In today’s blog post, I’m talking all about postnatal fitness! Specifically, how I’m getting back into exercise after a C section, and what I’ve been doing for fitness since Riese was born 6 weeks ago!
Just an FYI this post contains some affiliate links.
Exciting news, you guys: this weekend marked my official return to organized fitness classes! Hello again, yoga – I missed you!
It was definitely complicated logistically to get out for a class (the class wasn’t until 9 a.m. but it still involved waking up super early and pumping first because the timing didn’t work out right to feed Riese right before I left), but man was it nice to go to a class vs. doing fitness stuff solo in my basement. 🙂
Plus, I missed my workout buddies Chelsea and Kathleen – yay for the 3 workout musketeers being reunited. <3 I’m not ready to join them for our early morning boot camps yet (need to give my body a little more time – and to get a little more sleep first, too), but I was so glad we were able to do a weekend yoga class to kick off my return to fitness!
Exercise (especially social exercise!) is totally my happy place – I’m excited to be able to get back to it over the coming weeks and months.
I actually went to a yoga class on Friday, too – two classes in one weekend, wow! I don’t think that will happen again anytime soon, but it was pretty lovely.
Getting Back into Exercise After a C Section
Things that are awesome and also things that are weird about yoga now following my C section vs. yoga while I was pregnant:
- I can be on my back again, yay!
- I can twist again! Although I’m being mindful to not twist too far.
- Child’s pose is comfortable again without a huge belly in the way. 🙂
- Lying on my stomach feels fine… lying on my breasts does not. Ouch!
- Pigeon pose doesn’t feel good right now – it’s too intense of a stretch on my C section incision area, plus I’m SO tight it’s just a bit much. I’ve been doing a variation instead (#3 in this blog post).
I’m avoiding planks (I do tabletop instead) and any more advanced ab work right now as well per advice I’ve gotten that those sort of exercises can make postnatal ab separation worse and slow core recovery. I have an appointment next week with a PT that specializes in women’s health/postnatal care and I’m going to see what she says in terms of how long I need to keep modifying/avoiding core work.
I’m also avoiding anything high impact (jumping, running, etc.) for now, and will ask the PT about when it’s appropriate to slowly re-introduce that stuff, too.
What I’ve Been Doing for Fitness Since My Baby was Born
As of Friday I was 6 weeks postpartum.
As you guys know, my doctor cleared me for all exercise at my 4 weeks postpartum appointment, which reeeeally surprised me because I didn’t feel ready physically to jump back into fitness at all – and thankfully I learned from you guys that I should be smart and slow about my return to fitness, even though it was tempting to rush right out for a run or join the girls for a boot camp! I know that my body is still healing, and I need to respect that.
For those first 4 weeks, my fitness was outdoor walks – Matt and I took a walk almost every day with Riese and our dog in tow and it was a really nice way to get out of the house and do something together. Fresh air always lifts spirits, too, especially when we were spending the rest of the days at home and sleep deprived/overwhelmed!
Walking was also great because it was something that felt good physically, and it was easy for me to slowly scale up both in terms of speed and distance as my body recovered.
Our first walk, the day after we got home from the hospital, was really slow and only around the block, but each day we increased a little, and by one week out I was back up to nearly a mile if we went slowly. By another week later, we were up to 2 miles, and since then we have usually stuck around that distance, mostly because there are a bunch of Starbucks about a mile from us and we usually walk to one of them, get lattes, and walked back. 😉
So excited for the weather to warm up again this week – our walks haven’t been as frequent this past week given the extreme cold!
Even though the walking felt good, my body definitely felt really stiff and tight from all the sitting and awkward breastfeeding positions, and I was craving some stretching in particular by the time I was 4 weeks postpartum. So, after meeting with my doctor, I spent some time reading through your recommendations and doing my own research online about how to safely and gradually re-introduce exercise after pregnancy. I really appreciate those of you who shared advice – thank you!
Best Resources for Postpartum Fitness (C Section and otherwise)
One of the best resources I found (thanks to you guys!) was Jessie Mundell, an expert in prenatal and postnatal exercise who offers a number of different online fitness courses for pregnancy as well as postnatal recovery.
The program I was really interested in was her 8 week Core + Floor Restore Series, which comes in both an original variation and a C-section specific variation. Perfect – exactly what I was looking for!
I ended up purchasing the C section specific plan pretty much immediately after reading about it, and got started the next day.
The programs, which are meant to be started once you are cleared by your doctor for exercise, are 8 weeks long and include two month-long phases; the daily exercises change out when you switch phases. The program consists of a series of rehab-specific core and stretching moves to do that take no more than 10 minutes per day. I figured I could come up with 10 minutes, right?!
I’ve found the program to be really well organized – it includes a great calendar document to check off each day, there’s information about how to assess ab separation, and there’s a really easy to follow daily checklist with all the moves so you make sure you don’t forget any (plus, checking things off a list makes me feel really awesome and accomplished). It comes with pictures of each move, too, which you can see above.
If you’re looking for something intense, this program is not it, but it’s a really great way to do some rehab on your core and pelvic floor, which will help to get you ready to jump back into more advanced fitness later on. It will also help to teach you how to breathe and hold your core as you do more intense moves later on.
12-Week Postpartum Exercise Program
The other program that I’ve been incorporating into my routine to get me back up to speed without overdoing it is my personal trainer friend Gina’s 12 Week Post Baby Bod Program, which she kindly gifted me when she saw I was cleared for exercise by my doctor.
For my fellow postpartum mamas, I would highly recommend following both Jessie’s Core + Floor Restore rehab program and Gina’s Post Baby Bod program in tandem – they are a wonderful complement to each other as Jessie’s program is focused on rehab and stretching, and Gina’s program gets you started back with strength training (but in a low key, gentle way).
Gina’s program doesn’t have a C section specific option, but she does include modifications and tips for C section mamas throughout the program.
Gina’s program is also easy to follow and gives you a day-by-day exercise plan to follow with clear pictures and instructions, and it includes cardio recommendations in addition to strength. At the beginning the cardio is all walks/stroller walks, which is perfect since that’s what I was already doing!
Her program also includes some nutrition tips and recipes, and I’ve found it to be useful and non-diety with delicious sounding balanced recipes. The whole tone of the program in general is very warm and positive and all about self care and practicing kindness towards yourself, which I love.
Conclusion: My Post-C Section Fitness Journey
So there you have it! What I’ve been up to fitness-wise since Riese’s birth. I’ve missed a couple days of the programs here and there but for the most part I’ve done well making them a priority since starting them 2ish weeks ago. Matt has been good about helping me make them a priority, too – a couple times I’ve been like “Darn, it’s 8 p.m. and I didn’t do my rehab workout today.” And he’s like “The day isn’t over, is it?” 😉
It’s surprising how quickly the days go by, but I’m proud of myself for making these recovery workouts happen most days (and being gentle with myself on the couple of days I’ve missed them, too)!
Not including my cardio (our walks), these programs usually take me 10-20 minutes per day (10 minutes for the Core + Floor Restore rehab moves which I aim to do daily, and then a few times a week there’s an additional 10 minutes for the Post Baby Bod Program strength moves). Efficient – I like it!
More Resources for Exercise After C-Section
I will leave you with a few more resources that may be of interest if you are also getting back into fitness after having a baby:
- A short glute release foam rolling video which is great for combatting breastfeeding tightness.
- A pelvic floor release foam rolling video.
- A video on how to massage your C section scar, if applicable.
- More information about diastasis recti (ab separation), how to assess it in yourself, and a free exercise video appropriate for those with diastasis recti – via Jessica Valant Pilates, who a bunch of you recommended as a good postnatal resource. She also has a great post on postnatal exercise and why you should be avoiding planks after giving birth.
If you have any other postpartum fitness advice or resources worth a look, I’d love to hear them! Catch you guys tomorrow with some recent eats!