I kind of think I’m invincible. I’m willing to guess many of you can relate to this feeling. I live an extremely active lifestyle, running about 50 miles per week, bike commuting 6 miles each way, and walking my dogs at least 3 miles a day. I was able to run (ok, waddle would be more accurate) throughout pregnancy thanks to encouragement from Salty’s pregnancy posts. I even ran 6 miles the day I went into labor!
So long story short, I was shocked when, at 38 weeks pregnant, my baby turned breech and I was told that unless she turned head-down by delivery day, I would need a C-section. Me? A C-section? There’s no way! I was going to have a perfect, natural, unmedicated birth and bounce right back into running without barely missing a step!
I tried every home remedy for turning a breech baby that I could think of. I did things like ice on my abdomen, a bunch of different yoga positions, handstands (with my husband supporting me), swimming V-shape in the pool, handstands in the pool, ”magic” creams, and that’s not even everything! I had an external cephalic version (ECV) attempt at 39 weeks which was unsuccessful, not to mention extremely uncomfortable. You name it, I tried it!
I spent a lot of time in the swimming pool that week, but definitely did not want photo documentation of my 39 week pregnant body in a swimsuit!
I ended up going into labor the day before the dreaded c-section. I was grateful for that, because I had held out hope she might turn during labor. Seven hours later, she still hadn’t turned and into surgery I went. And when I heard her sneeze, it was all worth it.
But back to running. My OBGYN didn’t give me a timeline for returning to running. He told me something along the lines of: I could return to running when I felt like it. And I took that liberally. But knowing my slightly obsessive self, I knew I had to set a few objective ground rules for when I could return. The goal of these ground rules was to keep me safe. Here is the list I came up with:
1. No running until you have been off Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Motrin (ibuprofen) for at least 2 days. And, knowing myself, I furthered the rule. You can’t be OFF them just because you’re too stubborn to take them! You have to be off both pain meds because you truly do not need them anymore. (This happened at day 12 for me).
2. No running until you have not bled for at least 2 whole days. (This happened early for me, I don’t remember the exact day, but it was somewhere around the 2 week mark).
3. If, at any time, bleeding starts again, STOP physical activity other than walking for 2 days and then try again.
4. No being crazy about pace or mileage. In other words, lose the pride about pace and be ok if it’s 20 minutes per mile; just be grateful to be putting one foot in front of the other.
5. Listen to your body and do not push it beyond its limits. No talking with anyone else or listening to music, so you can completely focus on your body and how you’re feeling.
6. Run alone. Why? So you won’t be tempted to keep up with anyone else. (The exception for me was going out with my husband, who is very patient with me and let me set the pace completely. I figured it was safer to have him around, so someone was there if I collapsed and died or something).
7. Any runs must be geared towards recovery, not training. Active recovery = OK. Training = NOT OK.
8. If you are more sore in the incision area after a run or workout, back off at least 2 days and then gently try again.
You’ll see when reading my training logs that I “mostly” obeyed my ground rules, although I ignored them on a couple occasions, which I certainly paid for! But for the most part, I think my ground rules worked well to keep me safe and enabled me to recover.
What about you, Salty readers? Did you return to running after a c-section? Did you follow these rules or have others?