As a personal trainer and fitness instructor I have been very keen to get back into exercise and reclaim my pre-baby body.
Before having my gorgeous baby girl I had the notion I would be back up and running or at least walking and doing a little exercise within about three weeks; this is really optimistic for someone who has had a C-section.
It is normal for recovery to be six weeks long and I have to say this is definitely more along the lines of what happened.
I see it a lot in my clients and athletes: the desire to recover and heal much quicker than the body can do just so we can get back on track and get on with being busy again.
The advice I give to my clients always is to listen to the body and determine what you can and cannot do. I had to listen to my own advice and take it one day at a time as my attempt to be super woman didn't quite go as planned.
Here are my tips for working exercise back into your life after a C-section surgery and how to re-activate some of those muscles we will need for optimal tone, condition and performance.
1. Start with the foundations
Focus on the little things you can do around the house that will help correct or improve posture. This is key for anyone exercising as optimal posture allows for effective movement and, therefore, optimal results.
Wait two or three weeks and once the pain has subsided start with some gentle core or abdominal activation.
Simply lie flat on the bed or floor and place your hands over your lower abdominals, apply a little pressure so you can feel where your hands are and try gently to tighten the muscles under your hands. This can be challenging to begin with as the area can be a little numb from surgery.
Once gently tightened, relax and repeat for a couple of times and leave it at that until the next day to be sure it does not cause any pain or discomfort. This is a time for less is more and being gentle and patient.
All we wish to do is to begin turning on this area a little each day and build up slowly as you are comfortable.
Another great postural exercise or movement is a chair back stretch. Seated in a comfortable chair, reach your arms to the ceiling holding your hands together and stretch them towards the back while looking up at the ceiling. Hold this for a few seconds and relax and repeat.
2. Use your situation to your advantage
Having to get up and down from chairs and sofas with a baby in your arms can be challenging, but something we all do so let's use it to our advantage.
Try to use this time as a chance to work on your squats. They are great for toning and conditioning the legs, building our strength and taking some of the pressure of our backs which is a common problem with new mums.
Start with a wide stance as this is easier than having feet close together and the higher the chair or sofa, the easier it will be to start also. You may want to try a few without your baby to begin to ensure you are comfortable with the movement.
I started out with just trying to perform the squat whenever I got up and trying to keep a nice, tall posture every time.
3. Be kind to yourself and take it oh so slow
Keep everything slow and be very patient with yourself. Some days you will feel amazing and want to take over the world and other days you will feel like you are right back at the start again. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
Remember your body is recovering and healing and this takes time. Do what you can each day and don't force it if things are challenging. Let it go and try again the next day.
Sleep is not something we have an abundance of either and this is when we do a lot of our healing so again extra patience and time is needed.
4. Add a little weight resistance
Once you are through the first month or so, you can try adding a little weight in the form of baby to your movement. We do this often as new mums without realising it, anyway, so why not put it in as part of your routine?
I found a carry pack a great way to help baby drop off to sleep while I was able to go for a walk in the fresh air (which is great for both mum and baby) and work on my leg toning and conditioning at the same time due to the extra weight of the baby.
The walk does not need to be fast to be effective. Just nice and slow, focusing on a tall posture. As you improve, your baby's weight increases, which is a great way to keep improving and building strength.