Although I was longing for a run since early pregnancy I had told myself to be sensible about this all. Well, it was not only me who told myself that but I had the voices of a certain Women’s health physiotherapist and another certain Women’s health gynaecology nurse in the back of my head. They had both clearly made me understand that running was not the best activity to do considering the prolapse. However the physio had also said that if I slowly and progressivly get the muscles used to the impact of running they may react in a positive way and actually work a bit better – eventually. And when I say muscles I dont mean the quads, the calves or any of the ‘usual’ running muscles. I mean the pelvic floor muscles.
Many of us are aware of that pelvic floor strength is important and we often get prompted in for exempel pilates classes that we should engage the pelvic floor when we exercise. That’s good stuff, very good stuff. But what happens when the pelvic floor fails you?!
I had been pretty decent with my pelvic floor homework already before pregnancy but during those months and especially leading up to the labour I turned up the gear even higher and really worked those exercises. Therefore it came as a major disappointment that the first few weeks post-birth my pelvic floor was literally non-existing. It was a horrible realisation that when I tried to activate it I felt NOTHING. Nothing happened at all! No wonder I thought things were going to ‘fall out’ from me any second. The physio assured me that the sensation will come back, that this is normal after giving birth. And luckliy she was right – slowly I started to feel the pelvic floor engaging and although initially it was extremely weak it was there! At first I only had strength to do short activations whilst lying down, the muscles were way too weak to engage while I was standing and definitely not possible while walking. But as they got stronger again I slowly and progressivley improved to being able to do them whilst walking. Which was something very important in order to be able to increase the walking itself! To begin with I walked for 5 minutes, then 10, then 15… you get it.
If I walked too long one day I would suffer afterwards so there was no point in overdoing it. With suffer I mean that my prolapse would be much worse that evening (my coccyx pain would also take a toll if I did too much). So quite early on I realised that if I really want to get back to some sort of shape I needed to simply listen to my body and be sensible with my progression. If I would go out and run straight away and just ignore the problem I would risk to only make the prolapse worse and ultimately make it harder to ever get back to running at all. So I forced myself to accept that I was not in a position to go running six weeks post birth (definitely not!) and maybe I was not going to run 3 months post-birth either. The months passed by while I instead worked on increasing my walks progressively, saw the physio regularly, I went mad with my pelvic floor exercises and worked on general core strength. As I got stronger and got up to 30-40 minutes decent pace walks my target eventually took its shape.
I wanted to try and run before my baby reached six months.