You know how it feels; the baby has had your body for nine months and now you want it back. For me childbirth was bittersweet, as I was glad to be back to ‘normal’ but I felt bereft and empty inside with no little person to keep me company. Once the immediate onslaught of caring for a newborn is over and routines are established thoughts turn to other matters, such as how soon can I start vigorous exercise and strap on my beloved snowboard?
The short answer is: it depends. Each woman and pregnancy is different and adjustments and expectations have to be made accordingly. Firstly, recovery from a c-section is different to that of a vaginal delivery. For the first six weeks after a caesarean it is unlikely any exercise will be undertaken as the operation site needs to heal. Those with a vaginal delivery may have swelling or bruising which makes it difficult and uncomfortable to do much exercise. Secondly, is snowboarding something you did before having children or is it a new sport that you are trying? In sports you have previously participated your muscles are used to this type of activity and muscle memory has already been established. If it is something new it will be more physically demanding and you need to be prepared for this. Thirdly, what are your levels of fitness? Did you continue to exercise throughout your pregnancy? I had a friend who was in the gym a week before giving birth but, for nine months, I did no training whatsoever. You may need to start back exercising gradually, and be patient in getting back your former fitness in preparation to go snowboarding. It is always worth listening to health professionals and your own body about what is possible.
Personally I did not snowboard until Freya was nine months old, but I was desperate to get back on a horse: another vigorous sporting activity. I was given the all-clear to start riding again three months after my c-section, and when Freya was five months old I had a fall whilst jumping. I hit the wing of a jump before I hit the ground, and ended up with a rotated pelvis which took a long time to heal. One friend, a seasoned snowboarder, got back on her snowboard four months after she had her son. On the second day she pulled the ligaments in her right knee and ended up in a helicopter being transported down the Chamonix valley. This illustrates the effect relaxin, a hormone produced during pregnancy which causes the pelvic ligaments to relax, can have. In some women the secretion of relaxin is systemic and this leads to excessive joint laxity. It does not affect all women but you need to be aware that vigorous exercise can have detrimental effects if you start back too soon.
So in summary you need to ask yourself the following:
- What type of delivery did I have?
- How much healing time do I need?
- Did I exercise during my pregnancy, for how long and how vigorously?
- Have I snowboarded before?
- What medical advice have I been given regarding vigorous exercise?
For more information about exercise after childbirth checkout the NHS Choices website.
Remember to be guided by your body, take your time and be patient with yourself. You will get back to your pre-pregnancy snowboarding self, but whilst on the way do not forget to enjoy life and your baby. I wish you many more happy snowboarding days.
Until later, TTFN