C-Section Recovery: The First Six Weeks

C-Section Recovery: The First Six Weeks

Six weeks ago, I headed out for my final run of pregnancy on Monday morning – three miles at a 9:49/mile pace. After my run, I worked and then called my OB to schedule a version (a procedure to flip a breech baby) followed by either an induction or C-section for the following day. They had found out that Isla was breech just a few days ago and wanted to attempt the procedure before my due date.

Within two hours of scheduling this, I went into labor – but not just regular labor. My mom and I went out for lunch at 12:30 pm, and when we left at 1 pm, I told her that I felt weird. Little did I know that about two hours later, I would be meeting our baby girl!

I had rapid labor, with contractions starting at 4-5 minutes apart and quickly accelerating. I went into the hospital within an hour of my first contraction – and by then, my contractions were closer to 2-3 minutes apart. Once they confirmed the baby was still breech, they rushed me into the OR for my C-section. At that point, my contractions were so close together than they had no other option but to insert the spinal block during a contraction. The C-section itself was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life, but it was all worth it when Isla was born, a healthy 6 pound, 21-inch little girl. 

C-Section Recovery: The First Six Weeks

C-section recovery is no easy feat – it’s major abdominal surgery, with both internal and external stitches. When coupled with rapid labor, it took time to recover.

One day after my C-section, I shakily walked for five minutes in the hospital wing, with my stomach supported by an abdominal binder. The next day, I walked for about 10 minutes around the wing. On Thursday, we were discharged and I walked around the house and up and downstairs. 

On Friday, we started taking short walks with the stroller. The loop around our neighborhood is approximately 1/3 of a mile, so I began with one loop. From there, I gradually built up my distance. I often pushed the stroller to help rebuild core strength. By about 10 days postpartum, I stopped wearing the abdominal binder. 

C-Section Recovery: The First Six Weeks

At two weeks postpartum, I walked two miles one day and had to rest the next day – I had pushed a little too much. But within a few days after that, I was comfortably walking 1.5-1.6 miles with the stroller. 

C-Section Recovery: The First Six Weeks

By three weeks, I was comfortably walking over 2 miles at a time and taking multiple walks per day. By four weeks, I had done a few 2.5-3 mile walks. I still noticed my incision when I walked, but there was a pattern of gradual improvement. With each day, I felt more and more like myself. Four weeks was also when we settled into a routine with Isla and her sleep improved (either one wake-up per night or sleeping through the night until I woke her at 5 AM for a dream feed). We still have rough nights, especially when we encounter a growth spurt or a developmental leap. But overall, her sleeping well has made a significant difference in my recovery. (The SNOO, by the way, is worth every single penny!)

C-Section Recovery: The First Six Weeks

Last week (five weeks postpartum), I made it a priority to take a 40-60 minute walk almost every day. Most days, this meant pushing the stroller outside. On rainy days, I put her in the Ergobaby carrier and walked with her on the treadmill, with the belt set to an incline. At this point, my incision is well healed, with only some tightness on some days. The more I walk, the more I forget that it’s there. 

My OB anticipates that I can be cleared to run at six to eight weeks postpartum – which could mean that I start running this week. I’ll start with very short run-walk intervals; six to eight weeks off is a long time as it is. I plan on using the ReCore program to rehabilitate my core and then ease back into Pilates and strength training.

My biggest goal is to build back sustainably and safely, with first mileage and strength, then speed. I may do a short trail race in January, but my first goal postpartum race will be a spring 10K – past six months postpartum. I had a long layoff from racing and hard training: I broke my foot a year ago and found out I was pregnant right when I started running again. (And truly, in retrospect I believe that broken foot is what brought Isla into our lives, so I’m grateful for it!) With that long off, it takes time to build back – but I’m ready to put in the process of patient, hard work. 

Linking up with Weekly Rundown

If you had a C-section, how did you recover from it?
How have you built back after a long time off of running?

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8 Responses

  1. Congratulations on your healthy and beautiful baby girl! I did not have a C section w either of mine. So no advice there. I had to take off 3 months due to a stress fracture a few years back. I did lots of strength training and cycling to keep up my fitness. I have no doubt you will be back up and at it as soon as your DR gives you the ok. Glad to have you back!

  2. 6 weeks so far – wow! Time flies! I didn’t have a c-section so no advice on that. I do know that the first run back for me (and then some) felt like my insides were being tossed around like a washing machine. Definitely a weird feeling!

  3. I had a C-section with my second baby but compared to my first very traumatic vaginal delivery, the C-section was a breeze. It’s funny how that happens! I also had an abdominal hysterectomy about 10 years ago–using the same incision–and that was a tough recovery. Like you, I kept moving through recovery, did what I could, and by 8 weeks was back to running again. Grateful for fitness!

  4. Isla is so beautiful! With those long fingers she may be a pianist some day. I’m sure that going into your C-section as fit as you were helped with your recovery. I didn’t have a C-section but I had a total hysterectomy about 10 years ago and the recovery is similar (though without a baby as a prize 😉).

  5. Your postpartum recovery mimics my rally-back from the knee surgery (two years ago). I just took it one day at a time, then on a week-by-week basis…building up the distance I could walk, then the speed. I had three months off, as my minimum, but the endurance (from the marathon just prior to the surgery) was maintained by all of my walking, so when I finally could return to running, it was a pretty smooth transition.Good luck…looks like you’re doing well!

  6. You’re doing great! The sleep really does help. We were lucky with Grayson too and it really made such a difference. I think you already know all about my recovery process! Definitely just take it slow!

  7. I can’t believe it’s 6 weeks already! AND I had no idea that your labor went so fast! I’m really glad that everything ended up all right and that your recovery is going so well.

    I have had periods off running because of injury. 5 months the first time because of a knee injury. I did a lot of strength training and biking then. 3 times off for my foot surgeries, but the longest was this last time and that was 2 months. Strength, walking and core work was in order. Now that I am recovering from a herniated disc I am off (with a couple of runs in between) 4.5 months in total. I can start running again in January. So again, strength, pilates, walking, biking/spinning. This injury has thrown me for a loop though so it’s taken me a while to get my head in the “moving forward” game. No idea when I’ll race again. I hope the 10K at the Rotterdam marathon in April.

  8. First off – congratulations!! I love seeing all your baby posts and they bring back so many memories for me. I too had a c-section and I too overdid it in the first weeks after the boys were born – oops! But getting those walks with them were some of the best days ever and I always think about my double stroller when I walk through the neighborhood now 9 years later. Enjoy every single day my friend as it will fly by!

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