I need some help please! I am 10 weeks post C-section and need help deciphering what I should be doing to get back in shape and shed this baby weight. I was cleared to workout at 6 weeks however, I have been battling an infection in my incision. I am on antibiotics and on the mend and very anxious to get back into shape. Before I was pregnant I would run a few miles every couple of days, do workout videos at home, and would walk, kayak, and just generally try to stay active while working full time. Since I began to feel physically able to, I have been walking 2-3 times a week for 20 -30 minutes and doing some light arm weight exercises (bicep curls, shoulder presses, triceps extensions etc. with 5 lb weights) while baby sleeps. But I feel lost as to what else to do and when; I was told it would be awhile before I should run or do ab workouts but wasn't told when I should start again. I am breastfeeding and keeping my calories around 2000-2100 a day to maintain my supply. During my pregnancy I gained 50 lbs and thus far have lost 25 lbs.
There just isn't a lot of good information out there and I would love to get your input on what types of exercises I can do at this point and what is a feasible time schedule for building up my endurance as I continue to heal. Thank you!
My first piece of advice for you is to listen to what your body is telling you. You have an infection in your incision, which is not something you should take lightly. Think about what had to happen to deliver your baby and how many layers of muscle had to be cut in the process. Important muscles. Muscle that one day may help you carry another child. They need rest and time to heal so give that to them.
I understand your anxiety about wanting to get back to the gym and work out, and although I do not have children myself, I have dealt with many injuries throughout my career that have kept me on the sidelines. The biggest lesson I learned is that you can’t control how fast your body heals. You can aide it in its healing process but you can’t demand it to get better. So, take a deep breath in and relax.
You are in a very special time right now, with a new little baby that depends on you for so much. Your life has changed, as has its needs, so while you heal take a moment, or two, to figure out what is most important to you. I am sure exercising and losing the baby weight is on the top of the list, which I get and commend, but it is not going to be as easy as you would like it to be. I am not saying that you won’t be back to where you were pre-baby, but allow yourself more time to get there than you think.
My advice on when to get back to running is this: Once you are walking for 60 minutes, 3-4 times per week, then start adding in running. Since you have taken a break from running you need to start back slowly, and build your running strength gradually. If you go out too quickly and try and run the distances you are used to, you will end up injured. Start by running for 1-2 minutes and then walking for 2-3 minutes, 10 times, and as you get stronger run for longer, and walk for less. Listen to how you feel, start slow with no expectations and then build from there. Also, once you have started to add running into your workout routine, add in some lunges and squats. Step-ups should wait a bit but if they feel good on your body go for it.
For your abdominal strength, I highly recommend you work with a professional for a few sessions to rebuild your core. A lot happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy and a lot needs to be done to rehabilitate it. Begin with gentle breathing exercises and then advance to more unstable exercises. I wrote an article a while back on this exact topic so click here for a refresher.
If you want to join a class, to get some “adult time” away from baby then I would suggest yoga, Pilates or a bar class. These are all great ways to help rebuild your body as well as spice up your current arm routine. I would say as soon as your incision is healed you can try out a class (and most studios let you try it for free which is a bonus). But trust me when I say give it time and take it slowly. If I had to give you a number I would say at least another 3 months until you feel like you are actually putting some intensity into your workouts. Just make sure you celebrate the small victories along the way.