If you ask your doctor when you can resume exercise after delivery, the answer is invariably ‘after your 6-week check up’.
I was in the gym one week post C-section delivery taking it reeeaaaal easy. Apart from feeling quite tired and very unfit, I was very fortunate that the only discomfort I had was (1) Wound pain (2) Bouncing boulder boobs (those who know me know that I’ve never had this problem before!). For me, the light exercise helped boost my mood and (for a second) take my mind off the insane cry-feed-nappy-sleep-nervous-breakdown cycle of the early days.
So, where does this ‘6 weeks’ come from – reasoned or arbitrary? Well, a bit of both really.
They call the first 3 months the ‘4th trimester’ because for the bub it is essentially an extension of life in the womb. That’s why baby gets to eat-sleep-poop whenever-wherever he wants. Hence, this period is a time of dramatic change for the mother.
Of the first 3 months, they say (who are ‘they’?!) the first 6 weeks are usually the most hard core, because after that the baby (is meant to!) get more predictable (at least if you’re lucky he’ll know day vs. night) and Mum’s body is going through a lot of changes:
Here are some things poor mumma may be suffering from:
- Sore perineum
- Sore wound
- Sore tummy / abdominal cramps
- Tiredness – whether from lack of sleep, anaemia from blood loss, etc.
- Discharge (lochia)
- A whole host of breast issues – engorgement, nipple soreness/ cracking, a general feeling that someone has transplanted these weird painful big things on your chest and THEY’RE NOT MEANT TO BE THERE
- Limb swelling
- Haemorrhoids, constipation
- Urinary problems
- Mood problems
- (Feel free to insert any other issue/s here!)
Now, most of these issues have resolved (or are at least on their way to being resolved) by 6 weeks. That’s why you go for your post-natal check at 6 weeks, (hopefully) your healthcare provider gives you the all clear, and off you go.
My question here is ‘are there any guidelines regarding return to exercise post-delivery‘?
Yes there are – according to our friendly American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
- Pre-pregnancy exercise routines may be resumed gradually as soon as it is physically and medically safe;
- This will vary from one individual to another with some women able to resume an exercise routine within days of delivery;
- In the absence of medical complications, rapid resumption of activities will not result in adverse effects;
- Resumption of activities should be gradual;
- Moderate weight reduction while nursing is safe and does not compromise neonatal weight gain;
- Physical activity after pregnancy has been associated with decreased incidence of postpartum depression, but only if the exercise is stress relieving and not stress provoking.
I love that last line… so I guess if your Hitler-personal-trainer ties you to the back of a truck and screams ‘RUN FATSO, RUN!’ while you struggle to keep from falling and getting gravel burn on your bum-bum*, that would be stress provoking.
Read the full article here.
I welcome your comments as to when you returned to exercise post-delivery 🙂
* Bum-bum: one of the many new words in my vocabulary since having a kid. I used to question at what point parents used stupid baby words and called each other Mummy and Daddy. Now I know, it just happens insidiously…