How to get back into exercise after giving birth!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health physician in any way, shape or form. I am writing about my own experience of exercising after birth. What I have done may not be right for you. Every single persons health, birth, experience, strength and readiness is completely different. Do not compare yourself to me or anyone else. I personally know mother’s who have started running 3 weeks PP (postpartum) while others do not feel ready to begin exercising at 1 year PP. we are all different. Please consult a doctor before starting any exercise program or do your own research like I have! 💗

On the 14th of September I gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Isla via cesarean (birth story can be found under the ‘Pregnancy’ drop down box). If you have read my experience you’ll know I had a few complications during Islas birth including her head being stuck for 8 minutes. Due to this the doctor had to cut my uterus upwards as well as transverse. My recovery ahead was (and still is!) going to be long and slow.

Before pregnancy I was a very active person. I loved high intensity workouts, running and hiking and all kinds of sports. During pregnancy, naturally, I slowed down and by the end of pregnancy I was doing 1-2 low impact workouts a week if that. I felt good up until Islas birth, however, the day I got home from the hospital I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a weak skinny body. I had lost all my fluid retention within 6 days of being in hospital where I was mostly bed ridden and it looked as though I had lost all my muscle. My booty was a pancake and my arms and legs looked like all skin and bone. It was bizarre. I didn’t recognise myself.

Exactly one week postpartum I tried to go on a short walk to see how far I could get. Well, I made it to the end of my street before I felt extremely dizzy and faint. This had a lot to do with losing 3 litres of blood during my cesarean. At the time this was really disheartening. Although it had only been one week my hormones were still running very high and I felt like I was never going to feel back to my old self again. I have always been very good at down playing my own problems. I never give myself grace which is sad and definitely not healthy. If this was my best friend I would remind them that their body has gone through a HUGE change during pregnancy (in fact it grew another life!) and then went through a massive ordeal during birth and basically was dying on the operating table (I was just in the right place to be helped). I’ve now had major abdominal surgery and I still put so much pressure on myself and think I will be fine.

So my first piece of advice that I didn’t listen to at first is that you need to rest! Don’t even consider exercising, especially for the first 6 weeks, and focus all your energy on your newborn. After my first walk attempt I did exactly that. I didn’t rest as much as I should but I rested a lot in comparison to my normal. I usually can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes. Allowing your body to rest and recover is crucial, particularly if you want to eventually start exercising again!

When leaving the hospital I was given a bunch of information about when to begin exercising again and what to avoid. Basically I was told only to take walks for the first 6 weeks and after getting clearance from a doctor at the 6 week check up can I start exercising. My doctor cleared me instantly but I had to take the initiative to ask about my ab separation. If you don’t know how to safely check for ab separation I highly recommend you ask your doctor or women’s physiotherapist in which they can give you advice on what to do next.

Abdominal separation AKA diastasis recti

Is basically when your abs separate during pregnancy. This usually resolves within 8 weeks after giving birth however some times it does not heal on its own and can take longer. Again I am not a physiotherapist, this is my own research and understanding. At 6 weeks PP my ab separation was 2 finger widths apart. By doing specific exercises and avoiding those that can make the separation worse like crutches and oblique work I have managed to heal it slightly. At 12 weeks PP my abs were just over 1 finger width apart.

KAYLA ITSINES POSTPARTUM WORKOUTS

I use to follow kayla Itsines BBG guide a few years ago and it was the only program I’ve personally ever seen results from. A friend of mine told me about Kaylas postpartum program on the sweat app and I had to check it out. It has been created alongside exercise scientists and is suitable for women with ab separation. It is a 12 week program with an additional 4 foundation weeks for women who have had a c-section or complicated birth which make it 16 weeks in total.

Upon starting this program I felt kinda frustrated at how slow and easy the workouts felt. I was use to high intensity workouts and was not use to such a slow pace. I soon realised that the workouts focused on rebuilding core and pelvic floor strength before progressing to more complex movements. Before pregnancy I had little to no core strength and this program has taught me to activate my lower abdominal muscles and strengthen my entire core. Something I’ve never learned to do before. The exercises are designed to rebuild strength and confidence. I have finished the 4 foundation weeks and have now started the next 12 weeks. I can’t wait to see how my body and mind transform during this time. I HIGHLY recommend the sweat app and Kaylas program only after being cleared from a doctor.

I will document my progress and update you at the end of the 12 weeks. I am so excited to be back into exercising. It has boosted my energy levels and mood. I have claimed half of our double garage and turned it into my own gym! My husband built a wall to close off an area for me! I am so excited to make it a place that I can go to work on myself and feel good! I am so keen for 2021. Watch this space!

Until next time,

Brooklyn xx

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