Getting back on “track” postpartum

Mother running with baby in stroller on city waterfront

I was a tad upset when I first moved to Doha. I went from being a super busy surgical resident who worked anywhere between 40 to 80 hours a week and yet raked up at least 40 km a week on my pedometer; to a pregnant, home- bound nag whose spent endless nauseous hours curled up on the sofa.

Instead of wanting to run a marathon, I watched marathons of TV shows.

The first trimester was spent trying to keep some food down and figure out what could be eaten that would not come back up in violet, gut- wrenching retching episodes. Things started to ease up in the second trimester. But then at my 19 week appointment, my doctor asked me to take things easy. To rest more. A small concern. She said it wasn’t anything to worry about, yet.

Easy? Wasn’t laying supine in bed/ couch/ settee for almost four months easy enough? From being on my feet for 16 hours per day to lying flat on my back for 20, life had flipped upside down.

I was pissed. Frustrated. And borderline depressed.

I loved being pregnant. But hated being stagnant.

Thank God things got better in the last trimester. The worry passed. The OB said all was fine again. My scans looked alright. I started taking daily walks. And instantly, life looked up. The clouds cleared. My head cleared.

The short 20 minute strolls, turned into almost- vigorous, hour and a half long walks by week 38.

I felt good. As good as an enceinte woman can feel.

I walked even on the day of my delivery. And once labour started, my Mr H and I went up and down the stairs for almost an hour before the pain got bad enough for us to leave for the hospital.

My labour (at least in my head) lasted all of three hours! Yes. Three hours. I won’t claim it was easy or painless. But thankfully it was quick. My midwife barely had time to get her stuff ready. I was admitted at half past seven or so in the evening, and lil’ Ms Z arrived before half past nine!

I could be utterly wrong. It could have been chance. But I can’t help but wonder if all those old wives’ tales are true. About how walking and keeping active helps in having a easy/ quick delivery.

It was harder than I expected postpartum though. The first four- weeks were a blur; and exercise or for that matter even my recovery was the last thing on my mind. All the standing, walking, stress and not- resting took it’s toll though. I was a battered, tired, achy mess by week five. I couldn’t sit without pain, walked funny and couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep in. I wondered if I would even get better. If I would ever feel like myself again. If I can ever jog a hundred meters, forget running a marathon.

My back was knackered and my hips and pelvis felt wobbly and unstable. My gait was funny. But somehow, I managed to go for my first walk postpartum on week six. I wore my most -comfortable pair of tracks and my old, worn trainers and went out one early morning. I was huffing and puffing in five minutes. And compared to before, I was walking at a snail’s pace. I saw a lady run past me and shed a silent tear. Gone are those days I felt.

I was back home in less than 30 minutes. The lower half of my body felt like it belonged to someone else. It just would’t cooperate. I had a side- stitch. A side- stitch while walking! Wow, I hardly ever got one while running even.

I stuck with it. I would be lying if I told you if I made it to the track everyday though. Nope. That would be a luxury. I went when I could. Anytime. Anywhere.

I used to be a fussy runner. I had to wear a certain attire. I needed my favourite trainers. My music. The weather. The track. The time.

Not anymore. Okay. I admit, the quirks will never go away. But I have learned to compromise. That is the only way. To give in, a bit. So that I don’t have to give up.

Weeks 7 through 12 was spent holidaying and relaxing. I did go for he occasional walk but did not have any structured exercise plan. I did not worry about exercise or running. We, as a family decided to take a break from everything and enjoy ourselves. After all that we’d been through, we thought we deserved/ needed some downtime.

The weeks of rest and relaxation helped immensely. I recuperated. I was back in Doha by week 13, and I was a different woman. Not the tired, harried, ghost of a woman who took the flight out. But a re- energized, ready- for-life- again woman who resembled the crazy, impulsive one of yore.

I ran again for the first time, the day the little one turned five months. It felt awkward and alien. And I brought Mr Aches and Ms Pain home with me.

Fast- forward to a month, and I ran my first 1oK in almost a year. Things went uphill from then on…

I still have a long way to go before I catch- up with my old self, fitness- wise. I then want to better her. To run faster and longer. I would also love to weight- train and work on my core and upper body. All the baby- carrying and baby wearing would probably help as well.

I never had/ have any weight goals. I have never been even remotely over- weight. Even while pregnant I barely put on any extra weight. In fact, a few more kilos of extra lean- muscle would be welcome. So, fitness for me is purely about getting stronger, faster….. better.

It may sound pretentious and preachy, but having a fit body definitely makes you a better YOU. You feel great. You feel attractive. You seem to be better at everything.

Being at my physical peak, made me feel like a better surgeon. I could stand for longer without being tired. I could hold a retractor still for longer than my bigger/ “stronger” male peers. I could concentrate better.

Even now, Mr H tells me I am a perkier version of myself after a workout. Must be all the endorphins…

Hell, Lil Z probably thinks I am better Mum on my run-days!

So my lovely folks, the point of today’s jabber is to make all of you get off your backsides and get moving (myself included).

We are all prone to whining, excuse- mongering and complaining about the lack of time/ space/ resources/ motivation and everything else. I am in fact an expert in this department. On my bad day, I may cancel a run if someone pisses me off by spitting on the road. And on a good one, I may run in pouring rain! Argh..

Hope we all have a good day today….

Get off you holy arses people…

Come on…

Till the next run…

Dr J.

6 thoughts on “Getting back on “track” postpartum

Add yours

  1. Definitely not!! Once a slim girl who put on 12kg weight within 1.5 years of being a couch potato in Doha would never do that!!

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