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Childbirth and returning to running

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Getting back into running after my baby was born is something I thought about quite a lot while I was pregnant.

Like a lot of mums who are runners, I was keen to start back as soon as I could. I may have even been thinking about a few races I’d love to do, depending on how I felt post birth.

While I was obviously hoping I would be able to return to my normal routine, I knew there was no way to know how my body would respond or how much it had changed during pregnancy until my baby had arrived.

With 8 weeks to think about it, I’d say my birth experience probably falls somewhere between not the most straightforward and also not the hardest.

On one hand, it wasn’t particularly long or drawn out. I was induced at 37 weeks because my waters broke, and the contractions came on hard and fast. My daughter was born about 11 hours after the oxytocin drip was started.

On the other hand, I had expected a slow build up and struggled to deal with the speed, intensity and frequency of the contractions. And after about 90 minutes of pushing, the doctors decided to intervene with vacuum (and a small cut) because of the position my baby was in. I also lost a litre of blood delivering the placenta.

So it was a bit of a mixed bag!

Which might have been why I actually wasn’t fussed about not running for the first four weeks or so post birth.

I got the standard instructions when I left hospital about waiting until the six week check before returning to exercise, which I was happy to do. In the scheme of things, it didn’t seem like very long and I had no idea how I was going to feel.

They did however say that I could start walking straight away, and start pelvic floor exercises after a week.

There was no provisions around the walking, so being me, I took that to mean I could do any kind of walking I wanted.

I started off easy, just doing a couple of kilometres around the block to get outside. But when my husband went back to work after three weeks, I started to increase the distance to keep myself occupied during the day and included as many hills as I could find to get my heart rate up and start to rebuild some fitness.

My goal was to get in about 5km each day, which I managed to do most days, sometimes we went 7 or even 9km. In the earlier days, a stop to feed was pretty common, but that just meant we got to spend a bit longer outside. In what has been a sunny Sydney winter, that definitely wasn’t a bad thing!

Winter walk

I got my weekly total up to about 45km, just through walking. It was definitely different for me, but it was something to look forward to each day, and adding hills helped to convince me I was doing some good exercise!

I also started on pelvic floor exercises and some light ab exercises (I had about 2cm separation).

Funnily enough, it took about four weeks until I started to feel the urge to run. I thought I’d be itching to get out straight away, but I guess because there were a few things that I wasn’t expecting during the birth, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to do any damage. I think the blood loss contributed to mindset as well, I didn’t want to run until it had completely stopped post birth.

When it did come though, it came pretty strongly, and it wasn’t long before I was starting to work out my plan to ease back into it. That will be continued in the next post.

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