Cesarean Section: the lowdown, and did fitness really help?

Hi everyone – wow, two weeks since my last post. You can guess what happened recently: we had our baby! Baby B is now confirmed to be a little girl, and for the past three weeks we have learned that she loves bath time and cuddling, and hates changing her clothes and being put down anywhere. At all. She knows. And she’ll scream.

 

This post I thought I’d look at the process of the cesarean. When I found out I was having one, I was very nervous about the surgical element: I’d never had surgery that big before, and the recovery was really scaring me. I tried to find some info about the process that wasn’t vague, NHS guidelines (which were helpful, but I was after some actual insights and personal experience rather than general advice), or that wasn’t on a Netmums forum, where it seems you can’t post if you value punctuation and complete words instead of abbreviations.

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So here we go. Two days before the birth I was admitted into hospital for steroid injections to help Baby B’s lungs mature as she was coming out a little early. As a result, I had to have my blood sugar monitored every hour thanks to he gestational diabetes. Day and night. For 48 hours. So … that was fun. I only found out on the day that I’d have to be admitted that early, and was kind of tearful as I re-packed my bag from one night to potentially four, and said goodbye to all the nice things I’d planned for the last day without a child. No romantic dinner with SB, no final aqua class. Sounds silly, but I was pretty emotional when SB took me to the hospital and then eventually drove away and left me in my new ‘home’ for the next few days, which was a four bed ward with two other patients.

 

However, this soon wore off. By that stage I was getting some pretty severe braxton hicks, so it felt safer to be in the hospital. It was nice to know that all I had to do was chill in between getting my blood sugar monitored, and helped me to calm down and focus on what was coming up. I watched a lot of Suits (so many good looking humans and so many sports metaphors), and my first episode of the Great British Bake Off. And wrote an emotional blog post 😉

 

On the day itself, SB arrived at 8am, and I put on my awesome surgical gear. We were prepared for a long wait, but by 9am we were called in. It all happened so fast, and we were frantically texting our family as we walked to the theatre. There, we waited for the team to assemble: there were approximately 9 people in the room as well as SB and myself. Once my spinal bloc had been administered, they lay me down and checked that it had worked. Then they put in the catheter (lovely), and they began.

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It was a really weird sensation to lie there knowing that people were digging around inside you, and even more weird to know that in a few minutes our baby was going to arrive. In labour, I’m guessing that the process helps you prepare, plus you’re probably somewhere in your own zone just trying to get through the pain. And once the baby’s out, I’ve read your body is filled with hormones that help you forget the process and help you bond with the baby. My experience was nothing like that – I was conscious throughout and had nothing else to focus on apart from trying to imagine what would happen in the next few minutes. You can feel them rummaging around inside, but you can’t feel anything, and you can’t make sense of what’s happening because you know it’s such a big moment: how do you comprehend what’s going on? At one point, I saw the doctor’s hand above the screen holding two little purple feet, but she wasn’t completely out yet: that was the strangest experience of the whole thing, and really brought home what was happening!

 

Because she was breech, they had to push really hard to get her head out. Poor thing. I could feel a lot of pressure – it wasn’t painful but it was uncomfortable. When she came out, she was blue and in shock, so they took her over to a little bed to give her oxygen and warm her up. Here I should say a huge thank you to One Born Every Minute because I knew exactly what they were doing and that it was normal! Otherwise it would have been pretty scary. After a minute or two we heard a thin little cry and she was here.

 

They brought her over for SB and I to hold while they closed me up. This takes longer than getting her out, but you don’t realise because you’re looking at your baby and trying to work out what has just happened! Afterwards, they wheeled me into recovery where we (unsuccessfully) attempted the first feed. Then they took me back to the ward, where we were left with our baby, and where I waited out the anaesthetic.

 

Because of my diabetes, they were very strict in feeding her every three hours and make sure she ate. So she had formula for the first 48 hours in addition to me trying to feed, because it’s bloody hard work and they needed to make sure she ate. For the next two days, I stayed in the hospital while I tried to feed her, and the midwives topped her up with formula. The midwives were so patient and sat with me for an hour each time trying to help me: neither baby nor mother have any clue as to what to do, so it’s really tricky. By day 2 Baby B and I had kind of worked out what to do (thank god), so we were discharged, and SB and I were left to try and keep this small baby alive by ourselves!

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Sorry about the language. But this is what it’s like.

So. The recovery after the operation. Once the anaesthetic wears off, you are definitely very tender, and I was given pain killers every 3-4 hours, but nothing stronger than a powerful anti-inflammatory with paracetamol. The midwife took the catheter out and helped me to stand about 6 hours after the bub was born, and I was advised to walk around. So I did. It was a very ginger walk: I was hunched over, and moved very tenderly, like an old lady. This continued for about three days, but each day was better. I had a shower that night, and took the dressing off the wound. Going to the loo wasn’t painful (which is a concern!): I stayed very hydrated, and I tried to relax when I went which seemed to help. The muscles they sliced into seem to be used for everything: sitting up, going to the loo, twisting your torso, walking, and so everything was done very slowly to avoid pain. The day after she was born I was walking around the ward regularly, and the day after we were discharged, so much more walking that day. Each evening the wound was tender, and the hardest things were getting out of the bed and getting off the sofa. These were painful every time.

 

By the 5th day I was able to walk to our local pub for dinner with friends. I stopped feeling regular pain after about 6 days, and only if I moved the wrong way. The first two weeks were difficult: as well as no sleep, worrying about whether the child is eating enough, trying to get used to your new way of life where you can’t go anywhere and where your house looks like Mothercare threw up in your living room, you also have to be careful of not lifting things and taking care of how you move. But I think that’s the same for natural births too.

 

Now – 20 days after – I can walk my normal distances, however I can’t walk very fast still. I barely feel the wound, apart from in the evenings if I’ve had a particularly active day. Thanks to Baby B being a bit of a cling-on, we haven’t really gone very far, which is helpful as I’m pretty stubborn and not used to being immobile!

 

After she was born, my stomach was still pretty big. I looked 6 months pregnant still, but it was soft and there were marks and bruises from the surgery all over it. I went through a phase of missing my lovely bump, and feeling my little bub inside me. My legs swelled right up after the surgery – much more than anything I experienced when pregnant. They look like two tree trunks, with no definition at the knees or the ankles. This was fluid retention, and went away after three days. Now, my stomach has deflated somewhat and my legs are back to normal.

 

So was all that effort to stay fit during the pregnancy worth it? I think so. I think it really helped with my recovery: it made the first walk not to painful, and meant that I could walk more regularly a lot more quickly than some others (or so I heard from the midwives). I don’t think my core has been decimated as much as I thought, which helped once I was at home as walking up and down stairs wasn’t as problematic as I expected. Plus, I’m very fortunate that my stomach did deflate pretty quickly, and I’m sure this is because of the exercise I did when pregnant. So, even though it wasn’t in preparation for the ‘marathon’ that is labour, it still really helped me out and made the whole experience better.

 

 

I am itching to get out there in the fresh air and start walking regularly. The weather is still nice, and I know Winter is closing in soon. However, Baby B has other plans and hasn’t decided whether she likes the pram or not. If we go out and she’s in the wrong mood, she’ll just cry and cry, which is not nice. To be honest, I’m starting to feel panicked that I’m not getting out and about enough, and the being sat in my living room for hours on end feeding can result in some pretty severe cabin fever. But I have to remind myself that she’s not even three weeks old yet, and that these things will come with time. I should just enjoy these days when my main focus is sitting and feeding – I should watch more Suits. Because really, the cast is so attractive, and they love a quick, slick exchange of words. It’s like The O.C. for adults.

 

 

Sorry if an in-depth analysis of a cesarean isn’t what you wanted from a running blog, and sorry if it’s TMI. But I would have loved to read something like this when I was getting used to the idea, so I wanted to put it out there for others. The whole process was not as traumatic as I thought it would be, and on balance there are definite pros compared with a natural birth, such as:

 

  • You know when your child will arrive, and can mentally prepare
  • There is no long labour leaving you exhausted
  • I think my recovery would have been similar to that of a natural birth, particularly if the natural birth resulted in stitches
  • You get to stay in hospital for longer – this is a major advantage when learning to feed. How are new mothers expected to know what to do when they leave hospital after 5 hours?!

 

So… all I’m saying is that it’s not as bad as you think. And sorry again if you were hoping for a more running-oriented post.

 

 

Ellie B

Running with a Sidekick

Since I found out that we were having a bub, my running experience has changed dramatically. I’m not sure if it’s because my body was already changing, or if it was because I was out of practice, but the first run I went on once we knew was much harder!!

First run, and someone's excited!!

First run, and someone’s excited!!

SB came too for moral support, and we had reached about the first kilometre from our house when we came to a big hill. My chest was much tighter than normal, and it felt like I was going to get a stitch pretty soon. So, we walked up the hill. And thus began the run-walk that I have been practicing ever since. At first I would try to walk roughly after every kilometre, but these days I am more confident in going further before walking.  That was the first thing I noticed: I became out of breath much more quickly.

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The second thing I noticed was that it is generally much harder. My pace has slowed by about a minute, or more depending on the day. I used to feel light on my feet and really enjoyed pushing it. Now I feel like I’m trudging along, and I don’t think I could go much faster without getting one heck of a stitch.  Again – I’m not sure if this is to do with hormones or whatever, or simply because I have been eating a lot and not running as fast/far, so I’m just not as fit!!

 

So. I’m not trying to run fast any more, and am purely going on intuitive running: if it feels good I continue, and if I need to slow down or stop then I do. It’s a nice to run without any pressure at all. As you know, I’ve re-built my distance back up, and I’d like to maintain 10k as long as I can…. though I guess the day might come when I have to trade my sneakers for swimmers (the thought makes me want to literally burn my swimmers in an effigy. I hate swimming for exercise. I am not good at it, and it’s boring).

How can you prefer swimming when you can get views like this??

How can you prefer swimming when you can get views like this??

I definitely miss working towards a goal (I guess there’s just a different goal now), and planning which races will be next. Maybe I might try one more 10k event before I get too big – more for the experience than to try and get any kind of time, but sometimes you just gotta chill and see what happens.

 

Some people are very nervous about running when they’re pregnant. I did a lot of research before I decided to continue, and I also asked every single medical professional I came across, and they all give it the thumbs up. Different articles will tell you different things, but the main idea is that keeping fit is the best thing you can do during pregnancy, as long as you don’t push it. If your body is used to one particular exercise, then there’s no reason why you can’t continue when expecting.

Running in the snow actually has a lot of grip, if you're in the right shoes. I'd never run when its icy now though.

Running in the snow actually has a lot of grip, if you’re in the right shoes. I’d never run when its icy now though.

The exception to this is pole. I have stopped pole!!!!!!!!  :(  I can’t believe it. That was one thing I did think was too risky, and I cannot waitttttt to get upside down again! Apparently pregnancy can affect balance later on, and even though I’m not there yet, I didn’t want to risk falling off – there’s more at stake now (FYI, I have only really and truly ever stacked it twice in 7 years)!

 

It’s weird doing everything with a little sidekick now. Even though we can’t see it yet, it makes itself known: whether it’s the twinge in my stomach, or the head rush I get when I stand up every. single. time. Which isn’t annoying whatsoever. And when running, sometimes I can feel my stomach adjust, and I like to think it’s in there hopping around like I am.

 

Yep, so this post ended up being more informative and less fun than I thought! Bottom line: running with a sidekick is slower and harder. Has anyone else found this???? But still worth it and something I really look forward to. Except last night when it was windy and 2 degrees and pitch black, so I went to the supermarket. That was one time when grocery shopping was more appealing than running. But other than that, loving the running still.

 

Ellie B

The Truth About 2015

Well. I think it’s time to be completely honest with you guys. You’ll have to forgive me – for about 4 months now I’ve been keeping secrets from you all. Can you believe it? What a bad blogger.

 

But…. the truth is…. that I am going to have a little mini-B! Yep. Later on this year, we will welcome a new addition to our family, and we’re crossing our fingers that a) it won’t mind being put in a running stroller, and b) that it likes Nutella. Because if it has problems with either of those two, we’ll have to consider some serious lifestyle changes. I know that a baby usually brings a whole host of changes, but let’s be honest. These are the ones that will matter.

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So! Now hopefully it all makes sense as to why I mysteriously couldn’t run fast in December, and why I was ‘slowly building back up’ this year.

 

Next week I’ll fill you all in on how running has really been this year. It’s not very different to what I’ve written already, but I’ve had to re-work my expectations on what constitutes a good run, a fast run, and what are good running conditions. But I just wanted to quickly share the news with you as I’m well aware that the past three-four months have been somewhat running-lite compared to before!

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I hope you all have a great weekend. I am a bridesmaid at a family wedding, which will be fun and ANOTHER chance to tear up the dance floor. If nothing else, thanks to Beyonce workshops, Miami and this weekend, this bub should have good rhythm!

 

Ellie B

Moving countries, Motherhood and Motivation!

So today’s post is brought to you by one of my bestests buds called Annie. We have been friends for 20 years now (which is ridiculous), and she has recently gotten back into running after some pretty big life changes, such as moving to the other side of the world and having a baby.

She recently knocked 3 minutes off her Park run time – amazing!!! I thought it would be good to share the low down on how she combines running, motherhood and moving to the other side of the world….

 

Tell us about your running experience post-baby. 

 

Just before I got pregnant, I was running fairly regularly, but found it hard to stay motivated without a goal. So I decided to sign up for the Great South Run in Oct 2011 with my husband, but I discovered I was pregnant in the build up to the race! I gave my place to someone else, but it’s a race I’d still love to do.

 

I waited a few months after having my daughter to start running again. Living by the sea, I missed my weekly coastal runs, but time and energy were seriously lacking after having a baby. It took time to find a rhythm of life where running was a regular feature in my week: initially I felt restricted because I couldn’t just chuck on my running shoes and head out whenever I wanted. I overcame this by going out earlier – before everyone else woke up so no one missed me. In fact, the quietness of morning runs appeal to me anyway – they clear my head for the day ahead.

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To help me stay committed to running again, I joined a local park run, which is a Saturday 5k fun run led by volunteers who time you and cheer you on. Later in the day, you receive a text with your time and an occasional ‘Woohoo you beat your PB!’ I would totally recommend park runs! They happen every Saturday in most parks all over the UK and internationally.

 

After I was beginning to feel the thrill of running again, Ellie got in touch and suggested doing the Stubbington 10K in January 2014 with another school friend. The starting line was just down the road from our old school gates, where our running days began. I couldn’t wait – finally, a manageable race I could enter and complete with friends! It was a perfect day – the sun shone and the supporters were out in force. I felt so thrilled to have finally completed a race. 😀

 

So you had just found your groove (love that feeling!), and then you moved overseas… that’s huge. How did that impact everything?

 

Seven months later my husband and I moved with Evie to Vancouver, Canada for a career break and to study at post-grad level. We arrived in the peak of summer and for the first month explored the beautiful city of Vancouver. One thing stood out – this was a VERY active city. People were cycling, hiking, yoga-ing, swimming, SUP-ing, kayaking, skating, playing beach volleyball and of course, running.

 

The great thing about living where we live on the UBC campus is that there are active student societies, clubs and sports teams bursting with positive, can-do attitudes on our doorstep. In fact I have joined 2 running clubs that run 5K routes every week, and with my husband’s schedule being more flexible, it’s easier to get out there. I was nervous joining them, as they seemed so athletic, but I soon realised they are just like me: working towards their own goals.

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Each group has a markedly different standard; one being for beginners which is nice because I can run at a comfortable pace. The other group is full of undergraduate university athletes (most 10 years my junior!), all of whom are yet to have children! This group pushes me and forces me to run at a gut-busting pace. The way I see it, one group builds my confidence, and the other makes me a better runner.

 

The beauty of running is that you can be part of a group even if you are a different pace or different fitness level, because it’s not a race. If I let the fear of ‘everyone is a better, fitter, faster runner than me’ get the better of me, then I would never join a club and would definitely not be better, fitter or faster! 

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The UBC campus is probably one of the most beautiful university campuses in the world, located on a peninsula, and surrounded by stunning Canadian pine forests with undulating woodland trails. The views of the sea and mountains, the woodland trails and the dramatic, changing colours of the seasons all act as inspiration and motivation to get out and run in rain, sun or snow.

 

You seem to be in a strong place at the moment. Have you always been into running?

 

Actually, Ellie and I started our running days together way back in 1995 doing the school cross-country (Ellie: it totally hurts me to read this date and include it in the blog. I’m living in a world where I’m forever 26).

 

Baby faced 18 year olds at Sydney Tower

Baby faced 18 year olds at Sydney Tower

One particular highlight of the cross-country route was running parallel to an MoD naval training base where sailors would inevitably shout obscenities from their windows – it motivated us to quicken our pace! The best part of the route was the sneaky short cut we took across the farmers’ fields, with absolutely no thought for the crops (oh, to be carefree and young again).

 

I found I was naturally good at cross-country running, with medals to show for my exploits. I thought it easy to achieve top 5 finishes at the various levels I performed at. But in fact what I hadn’t fully appreciated, and now do, was the benefit of the three times a week 3-mile runs I used to do with my Dad. It was a ‘dad & daughter thing’ that we shared together. It was in these tri-weekly runs that I learnt how to pace myself and develop my sprint finish! So a shout out to my Dad for giving me a love of running and teaching me the essentials (pacing, posture etc…).

 

Sounds like you’re working towards your old standard, and doing really well! Any closing thoughts on running, or where you find motivation now?

 

Overall, running post baby has been a different experience for me, primarily from a priorities point of view – and with so many areas of life vying for my time and energy. Yet I have to say my Canada experience is massively assisting me motivationally. The lure of coastal runs with stunning sea and mountain views over Vancouver’s English Bay is a pull I simply cannot resist when planning my week. And to top it all off I haven’t been verbally abused by any sailors…yet!

 

Thanks for sharing your experience, Annie – there’s loads of great ideas here, like the Park Run and joining a running club. Joining a club when I moved to Durham was the best thing I did too, and really helped my speed and motivation.

You can find out more about UK based running clubs here, and Australian based running clubs here. And here are your park run sites: UK and Australia!

Just a quick aside – Annie’s 2 year old daughter has read Jane Eyre. Yep – I’m not joking. It’s been distilled down to 5 words….

Jane Eyre

As an English Lit grad, I am so proud of her. 

 

Ellie B

Pole Sports: The Great Debate Continues…

Hey everyone. I hope you had a good weekend. I did a 10k hill run in Durham on Saturday, which was hard, and then I had my first pole lesson in about 8 months yesterday!!

 

This year, I haven’t had any time to train pole myself. And when I have trained, I’ve looked like a little fish that’s out of water, flopping around all over the place as my guns skinny arms let me down. These bad boys have shrank!

 

So, sadly, I’ve stepped back from teaching, and yesterday – with all the nervousness of a new girl at school – I once more became the student in the hope of actually progressing. After all that hard work last year on my splits, I’m still where I was on January 1st! Don’t worry though, the splits won’t dominate this blog like they did this time last year. I’d feel like a fraud. Although I could just recycle all last year’s posts…

 

My teacher and I looked at some moves that were new for me, and worked out what the focus areas will be moving forward. There’ll be more strength training, more back and shoulder flexibility, and more ab work. My shoulders are sore today, but that’s only a good sign (I tell myself, as I grimace just trying to bring my coffee cup to my lips).

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And, if it wasn’t the biggest coincidence, when I was eating my recovery chocolate (an absolute must in my book), I read this article: Pole Dancing: Olympic sport or strip-club sleaze? . The basic arguments are:

  • This journo went to the World Pole Sports Championships with a number of preconceptions, including doubt as to whether it could be a sport
  • She found out that she was wrong

Ok, I admit, that’s a pretty basic summary….

 

What she discovered was that the world of pole is dominated by supportive women, not the ‘dirty mac brigade’. She learned that it was in the same family as gymnastics, but was less dangerous as the pole itself supports you (says a mother of a 13 year old competitor), and that it’s easier to actually do because you don’t need as much room. This skeptical journo closed the article on a positive note, and wondered if ‘anything could get (her) flying like a human flag’. And everyone was happy.

pole sport

 

What the article doesn’t do is apologise for the sport, or it’s background: the competitor she speaks with credit strippers for helping make today’s incarnation what it is, and in fact one girl believes that it’s empowering to have taken pole dance out of the strip clubs and developed it into a competitive sport.

 

I don’t want every post I write on this to have a slightly defensive tone, but when I write them, I can’t help it. Sorry guys! I am working to remove this huge chip from my shoulder. In August I wrote about pole dance vs pole fit, and said that as long as UK pole has a conservative view towards the sexier element of the sport, I would prefer the Aussie way (which is all sexiness). However, this article today pointed out that if it wants to be taken seriously as a sport, it needs to set certain limits. And apparently these limits lie with cleavage and actually taking clothes off on stage.

 

I can understand this. To conquer people’s preconceptions, the sport must be seen to differentiate itself from ‘titillation’. Even though the journo closes the article more positively, she still litters the article with phrases like ‘gyrating on a pole’ (twice) and ‘grinding prop’, when her quotes from the performers themselves make pains to show how the sport has actually progressed. Which proves the whole point.

 

So…. I guess I’m backtracking a little from my stance in August. While it’s not my personal preference, I do admire what these people are trying to do: bring down the conceptual barriers surrounding the sport, and which stop people from seeing it for what it actually is. If you see two people doing the same dance – but one is in a sports crop top and pants, and the other is in a glittery bikini – I wonder how your interpretations would differ. These little things do matter if it is to be taken seriously, even if they do eliminate a certain kind of art from the whole proceedings.

 

Although I can’t back track 100%:  it’s still not my personal preference to have such strict guidelines on what’s acceptable and what’s not, because if taken too far, I think they could actually bolster the same prejudices they’re trying to break down. I don’t mean to back track from my back track, but hey, I write these posts and so I can do that, people!!

 

The Winners of the NSW Heat for Miss Pole Dance Australia

The Winners of the NSW Heat for Miss Pole Dance Australia

And, for panache, extravagance and outrageous costumes, well thankfully we have the Aussies for that!! They  have just had their Miss Pole Dance Australia championships, with bikinis, cleavage and stilettos galore!! Thank God for the Aussies, who dance and strut and are proud. Aussie Aussie Aussie!

 

Ellie B