I have suffered quite a bit since having an emergency c-section, from pain across my abdomen and scar tissue to weakness in my muscles and the wound healing, that I have felt my body has not been my own since becoming pregnant. I assumed that pregnancy would be the biggest change to my body and I would snap straight back into shape once I had him. I, of course, had not banked on a difficult labour and having major surgery.
The problem is, no one tells you along the way exactly how pregnancy will affect you afterwards and nobody helps you whatsoever after a c-section. You are told not to lift a kettle, yet you have a newborn that you must pick up to feed and care for. You are told not to do very much, not to drive for 6 weeks and to take it easy – if you don’t have family or friends to help I really don’t know how this can happen. I was lucky to have family rallying around to help with housework and being my taxi drivers.
Once the checks are done by midwives and the staples/stitches are removed, you do not see any other medical professional. So you have just carried a baby for 9 months, had major surgery and are now left to recover whilst trying to look after a newborn. I can openly admit that I struggled. I felt weak and battered, bruised and exhausted from the whole traumatic experience. I chose not to drive for 10 weeks due to the feeling that it wouldn’t be safe for me to be on the road, especially with a baby in the car. Exercise was definitely out of the question and I didn’t know what to do for the best to get myself back on track.
I did attempt Pilates when Jake was 5 months old, but I decided to leave due to abdominal pain coming on for days after. I came to the conclusion that I obviously was not healed enough to be doing this type of exercise and chose not do any at all for the rest of the year (except walking and swimming when I took Jake). I felt I had no one to turn to or seek advice from as when I visited Doctors they simply said I was fine.
In January 2015 I began running and doing Zumba. I loved being active again and I was finally out of pain after exercising. In the February I even began to learn Salsa. But even from doing all of this I couldn’t see my body changing much. In the December I also discovered body combat and loved it – the fact that you burn loads of calories during each session was a huge motivator. I had hoped this was the answer to my toning issues. I even began learning how to stretch correctly, with the help and advice of my sister who is a fitness and stretching instructor.
Race for life 2015:
Unfortunately I started to injure myself and it was just a huge reminder that even after 2 years my body just wasn’t what it used to be and I had to face the fact that it may never be, after all I had grown a little person and given birth to him, then my body fed him for 8 months, so it is to be expected (whether I wanted to admit it or not!) After 7 weeks off exercise I returned to Zumba a little unfit and pretty stiff. I found it harder work and that my leg still hurt a little from the injury. I knew my body had changed and that it had not fully recovered from pregnancy and I needed a solution… but the solution found me!
One day on facebook a sponsored ad popped up for a lady called Fitmama. She offers courses to pregnant and post-pregnant women. She has 10 years knowledge of working with new Mums and is also a fitness instructor. She has her own methods to help with your post-pregnancy body and offers either a 6-week course or 1 on 1 training. I could not believe my luck when she messaged me to say it wasn’t too late and that she could help!
I booked in my free consultation and turned up wanting her to most importantly check if I still had my diastasis (the separating of your stomach muscles which happens during pregnancy to allow room for the baby). I was convinced they were still slightly separated due to my stomach having stubborn fat and I know that if your muscles do not work correctly you will not be able to lose the weight. Maybe I wanted to hear that this was why I couldn’t shift it, but it wasn’t the answer I got!! I had to laugh because she said it is just simply fat and I need to combat it through proper exercise and diet – well I got an answer at least!! Hahaha. However, she did discover a weakness in my pelvic floor which she said needed some work. She assured me she could look at my body closely and work out where other weaknesses may be and provide solutions on how to fix them. I was so excited that answers may be provided that I booked a one on one session to get the best results for me.
I had my first session and came away so positive that she could help me. It turns out I have other problems including my quads being too tight which are pulling my knees out of place which is then putting extra strain on my pelvis. This is leading to tightness, pain and a curve in my lower back. My gluteus maximus muscles (yeah, ok my bum!) are also not working correctly so when I exercise my legs are taking the brunt of it all and are quite clearly becoming injured. My diaphragm is also too tight which explains why I was so breathless during pregnancy and when I run…. I wish I had met her when I was pregnant, she could have helped with so much and I didn’t even realise.
The main part of the session was to work on the method called the hypopressive technique. It is, in short, a breathing exercise designed to expand the muscles around your rib cage which in turn pulls up your pelvic floor. Making it especially effective after giving birth and for those who suffer from uterine prolapse. It was a strange exercise to do to start with as all you are doing is breathing, but after a few attempts, I felt I was getting the idea and I could definitely feel the movement happening inside.
I came away with my homework for the week to do my bum squeezes, do my breathing exercises and to foam roll my legs to help with the tightness in my muscles. I’m sure I can keep up with it all if it means I get this poor body back to how it used to be.
If you are having any difficulties during your pregnancy or postpartum please do seek help. I really wish I had found some sooner.
You can read more about this technique here.
You can read all about Fitmama on her website here.