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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

How do I get back into exercise after my C-section?

 

Hello fitness expert! I had my 2nd caesarean section 5 weeks ago. I've not suffered after, ie scar has healed really well/no back pain from the spinal etc and I'm allowed to drive again. I've been out doing lots of brisk walks and side leg raises and pelvic floor exercises. Can you recommend any further? I start back at gym come 1st Feb and I'm also a keen runner. Body wise I have over half a stone left to lose - I have been left with classic jelly belly and muffin top so any exercises for that area would be great? Thank you!

A.

Our expert says...

Hi,

Firstly, it is fantastic that you are recovering so well from the caesarean and congratulations on the birth of your baby.  For the first 6-8 weeks following birth it is recommended that you take things easy to make sure things heal internally as well as your scar. This will fall nicely in line with starting back at the gym on 1 February.

Maintain your pelvic floor exercises for at least a couple more months to make sure that your those muscles tighten back up (this will help avoid incontinence when running etc later on).  For the next couple of weeks I would stay away from running and just go for lots of brisk walks.  It’s not recommended that you start back running for a minimum of 6 weeks- usually once you’ve had your 6-week check up from the doctor and assuming all is ok.

Once you do start running:

– just increase it gradually and add no more than 10% distance/time per week as this will allow your joints and muscles to become used to the stress on the body and decrease any chance of injury.  It’s important to point out that your body still has traces of the relaxin hormone in it, which is responsible for making your tendons and ligaments more flexible than usual, so don’t overstretch more than necessary.

- Start back gradually by jogging for a couple of minutes followed by walking for a couple of minutes and repeat for about 20 minutes. Increase this by just a few minutes each week.

- As you increase the time, you can slowly increase the running portion in relation to the walking portion. 

- Over a few weeks, build yourself up to walking for about 5 mins, running for 10mins, walking for 5 mins and running for 10 mins again.

- Once you have achieved this, it’s fine to start jogging the whole 30 mins, but wait to get back in to any interval or hill sessions until you are feeling very comfortable jogging for at least 30-40 mins.

Before hitting the gym, it’s important to check that your abdominal muscles have started to come back together. This is quite hard to explain in writing, but here is a way that you can self-check them, and if you are unsure visit your GP or health visitor and they will happily check for you.

Self check:

Lie down on your back with knees bent.  Gently lift your head and shoulders off the ground about 10cm.  While maintaining this crunch position, use your finger tips to feel if there is a gap just above your belly button between the muscles.  There will most likely be at least a small gap.  If it is big enough to fit 2-3 finger widths in, then they are still separated a bit too much for crunches etc. If under 2-3 finger widths, you’re fine to hit the ground running.If they are not yet back together, avoid stomach flexion movements such as crunches until they are better.

Once you are in the gym, I would recommend you book a slot with a trainer to get a personal programme designed for you.  You can also use this time to get the trainer to check your technique which is important.

Avoid resistance machines as much as possible as when you sit down, you turn off your core muscles, and this is the time that you really need a good core workout.  If you are interested in lifting some weights (great for toning), stick to 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions. Do lots of squats and lunges as they will help lots around the lower body and core.  Swiss ball work is great as it forces your core to become activated to control your body position.  Lots of rotational work through the stomach (ab twists) helps flatten things out too (assuming your abdominal muscles have knitted back nicely).  Any upper body weights are safe to do, but if you are breast feeding, you may want to stay away from lots of chest press/chest flys for a few weeks in case they stimulate milk production.

Hope this helps,

Kelly

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