For many women it can seem impossible to get back to a pre-baby shapely figure after having a cesarean section, aka c-section.
C-sections are very hard on your body. They really take a toll on your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, and you lose a lot of blood during it.
Cesarean sections are more common than you might think- according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, around 30% of American women have a c-section delivery.
It might seem like it’s impossible to lose belly fat after this procedure, but it’s not! With enough patience and commitment, you can definitely get back to your pre-baby shape, size, and weight.
Before You Start
The most important part of beginning this weight loss journey is talking to your doctor.
Everyone’s body is different, and each body takes different amounts of time to heal. Some people might only need a few weeks to heal after the c-section, while others might need a few months.
Talking to your doctor will provide you with a clear understanding of how your body is doing and how long it will take to heal.
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On average, it’s recommended to wait anywhere from 6-8 weeks before beginning any change in diet or exercise. If you start trying to lose weight too soon, complications can arise.
To prevent any negative circumstances from happening, make sure to talk to your doctor about your plans and listen to what they recommend.
Using Diet to Lose Belly Fat After a C-Section
Diet is the most important part of losing weight. You might be familiar with the common ratio of weight loss which is 80% diet, and 20% exercise.
“You can lose weight without exercise, but you cannot lose weight if your nutrition counteracts your energy expenditure through exercise,” nutritionist Albert Matheny says.
It is important to focus on eating whole, healthy foods, which will autonomically lower your calorie intake, while still keeping you full.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meats, and healthy fats are all great foods to eat for weight loss.
Avoid heavily processed food, junk food, fast food, and foods high in sugar.
Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
If you are breastfeeding, it’s important not to calorie restrict!
Women breastfeeding need to be eating a minimum of 1800 calories a day. If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will have a difficult time producing enough milk for your child.
Eating a minimum of 1800 carries ensures that you will maintain a good and healthy milk supply for your infant.
Breastfeeding is amazing for weight loss. It burns a lot of calories throughout the day. It can even tighten your stomach, because nursing has been known to contract your uterus.
Breastfeeding is a natural way to help your belly return to pre-baby size.
Exercise to Lose Belly Fat
With exercise, it’s very important not to push too hard. Remember, weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise.
Exercise is an important part of this equation, but there is no need to work out for hours a day. It’s dangerous to do even moderate exercise for 30 or more minutes at a time in the beginning.
It can really affect your healing negatively. Instead of doing moderate exercise which can be harmful to your body at this stage, you can just do gentle exercises.
Walking to Lose Weight
Walking is one of the best ways to lose weight after a c-section. It is a light and easy exercise, but it still gets your blood pumping and heart rate up. It is much easier on your body than going running.
Walking is great because you can do it with friends, or family. It’s very easy to talk when you walk, unlike running where it’s harder to have a conversation.
Walking can boost your mood and give you some much needed fresh air. You can also include your baby when you walk, by pushing them in a stroller. This will help burn even more calories due to the weight of the stroller.
When to Introduce Other Exercises?
As mentioned above, doing moderate and intense exercises can be very detrimental to your body during your healing stage. It is vital to talk to your doctor to see when they recommend introducing more exercises into your lifestyle.
If it hasn’t been over 6 months since you had your c-section, you should take it easy and only try doing 1-2 abdominal exercises regularly. If it has been more than 6 months, you can gently add more types of exercises into your routine.
Form is extremely important with exercise. You must listen to your body, and take it slow. Patience will ensure that you will not hurt yourself.
The Bridge Exercise
This exercise is a great way to strengthen your abdominal muscles. It helps with core stability when done correctly.
In order to do this exercise, lay on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
Try to keep this pose for around 20 seconds. You might start with only being able to do 5 seconds at a time, but you will get better.
It is better to hold the correct position for a shorter amount of time, than to do it incorrectly for a longer period of time. If at any point you feel abdominal pain during an exercise, always stop immediately.
Mountain Yoga Pose
This pose is great for your whole body. It strengthens and tones your muscles, while improving blood flow and posture.
To do this pose, stand on your yoga mat, then gently reach down with your hands. Both hands should be touching the mat, along with both feet. Your body will form a mountain shape. Hold for a few seconds, then stand up. Repeat this process around 5 times.
Planking is an amazing exercise for strengthening your entire body and gaining muscle. In order to do a plank, get into a pushup position on the floor. Then, bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
Your elbows should be beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for as long as you can.
You can start with 20 seconds and then increase it each time. Try to plank just once a night and aim to plank for 5 seconds longer each time. This will really aid with losing belly fat.
This exercise is a great alternative to crunches and sit-ups.
Crunches and sit ups are not something you should do to lose weight. They will slow down the healing process, and can potentially hurt you.
Doing the pelvic tilt exercise is a much better option. It isn’t as harsh on your body, and it strengthens and tightens your abdomen.
In order to do this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your stomach muscles by pulling in your abdomen.
You should feel like your back is pressing to the floor, and your hips and pelvis are rocking back. Breathe in, hold for about 6 seconds, and then breathe out. Then repeat the process for around 5-10 times.
Also called the cobra pose, this simple exercise is great for losing belly fat. It increases flexibility and elevates your mood as well.
To do this pose, lay flat on your stomach. Use your back muscles to raise your head and upper torso, while pressing your elbows against the floor.
Arch the chest section of your backbone. Look straight, and breathe. Hold this pose for around 30 seconds. Try doing this pose once or twice a day.
If you follow the advice given above, you will reach your goals of losing belly fat after your c-section. Just be patient, and committed.
Always talk to your doctor first, and maybe find a support group of women who are trying to do the same thing as you. This will help keep you on track and it will make achieving your goals fun and easy.
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