Losing Baby Weight: How to Tone Your Tummy after a C-section
If you are reading this article, chances are you’ve had a cesarean section, also known as a C-section. You are one of the 30% of women in America who have C-sections, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control.
As you might already know, C-sections are very hard on your body. They take a pretty large toll on your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Your body loses a lot of blood during this process as well.
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Sick Of The Excess Weight?
If you’ve endured a c-section, you gave birth to a miracle. While it’s totally understandable that you want to go back to your pre-pregnancy body right away, it’s important to realize that your body had to change and transform in order for you to give birth to your precious baby. Before being hard on yourself and potentially disgusted with the weight you’ve gained, take a moment to remember that it all happened for a reason.
The women who lose weight the easiest after having a c-section realize that the weight gain was entirely necessary in order for them to have a healthy baby, and they wouldn't have it any other way. Losing the weight after giving birth is just part of the process, and it’s completely natural.
Every time you catch yourself criticizing yourself and being hard on your body, remember that the outcome of this was your child. After all, you’d rather be a mother and have your child (along with a few extra pounds on your belly) compared to having a flat stomach and not having a child at all, right?
Patience Is Key
When it comes to losing baby weight, patience is key. It takes time for your body to recover after giving birth, especially your belly.
Here’s a good way to look at it - imagine that your abdomen is a balloon. The balloon slowly inflates, and the more your baby grows. Once you give birth, it doesn't just pop the balloon. It simply creates a small hole for the air to leak through. Even though the leak is slow, it’s still steady. All the air will come out of the balloon eventually, it will just take a bit of time.
Give Your Body Time
As soon as you give birth, the hormones in your body start to change. Your uterus contracts and slowly begins to go back to how it was before pregnancy. It can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks for your uterus to go back to its normal size.
During pregnancy, all of the cells in your body swelled up to retain fluid. After giving birth, they start to release that extra fluid. This extra fluid gets released through sweating, through your urine, and through vaginal secretions. The reason why your body put on extra fat during pregnancy is to nourish your baby. After the baby is no longer inside your body, your body will work to naturally get rid of that extra fat, but it might take a few weeks before you see results.
Think of it this way - it took a full nine months for your stomach to stretch enough to accommodate your baby’s growth. Therefore, it makes sense that it would take around that same amount of time to fully tighten back up to pre-pregnancy size. Even though it seems like an extremely long time, if you focus on your baby and keep yourself busy, the months will go by before you know it.
It doesn't necessarily take 9 months for everyone’s tummy to slim down - this amount of time will depend on your normal body size, the amount of weight that you gained during your pregnancy, your activity level, and also your genes. If you only gained 30 pounds during pregnancy, you are likely to lose the weight much quicker than someone who gained 60 pounds during pregnancy.
Despite the fact that everything takes time, there are certain things you can do to speed up the process of tightening and toning your abdomen. Here are some tips on how to lose weight after pregnancy.
Before You Start
If you are determined to tone your stomach after a c-section, it’s absolutely vital that you talk to your doctor beforehand. Every woman has a different body, and all bodies take a different amount of time to heal. Some women might just need a few short weeks to recover from a c-section, while others will need a few months. Generally speaking, it’s best to wait at least 6-8 weeks before you start to exercise or diet.
As eager as you might be to lose the weight right away, this will only cause complications. It can have a negative effect on your recovery. Talking to your doctor will give you a better idea of how long you personally need to wait before you can begin to make any lifestyle changes.
The Importance of Breastfeeding
If you breastfeed your baby, you will automatically lose weight faster than mothers who don’t do this. When you breastfeed, your body has to burn calories to do so. It takes up a lot of energy, and your body has to work hard in order to produce the milk. On average, breastfeeding mothers burn anywhere from 250-500 calories a day, just from nursing! This number can be higher depending on the mother’s weight and how often they breastfeed.
In addition to burning calories, breastfeeding also triggers contractions in your body that aids with shrinking the uterus. This makes breastfeeding a workout for the entire body.
Breastfeeding isn't just great for losing weight and burning calories - it’s also a beautiful moment that is shared between you and your child. You are nurturing them and forming a bond with them that no one else will be able to do. It’s truly a magical experience.
Avoid Processed Food & Eat Healthier
While it’s recommended to wait at least 6-8 weeks before you start exercising and dieting, that doesn't mean that you can’t change your diet now! It is never too late, or too early, to change your diet and start eating healthier.
Eating healthier does not mean going on a diet. It simply means cutting out the junk food and replacing it with healthier options, such as whole foods. Avoiding all processed foods (chips, baked goods, fried foods, etc) will have a major effect on your weight loss. Processed foods are higher in calories so it’s much easier to eat more of without even realizing.
If you switch to whole foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, etc), these foods are naturally lower in calories. This means that you can actually eat a larger volume of them, while still losing weight.
Eating healthier won’t just benefit your body - it also benefits your child. The more nutrients you consume through your diet, the more nutrients your baby will receive through your breastmilk. If you constantly consume junk food full of artificial flavors, colorings, and chemicals, it only makes sense that your body will be ingesting those chemicals as well. The healthier you eat, the healthier your child will be.
Everyone benefits from choosing whole foods. The people who are successful at sticking to a healthy diet with ease are the ones who look at it as a way to nurture themselves and their families. It’s a form of self-care. If you eat food that provides your body with all the nutrients that it needs, you will be able to perform your best, look your best, and be the overall best version of yourself.
Walking to Lose Weight
Walking is one of the best exercises that you can do after a C-section. It is a very light and easy exercise, yet it still gets your heart rate up and your blood circulating. Walking is an amazing activity because you can do it with your friends and your family. It’s easy to talk when you walk, compared to running, where it can be a struggle to keep a conversation going.
Walking can improve your mood, and it’s always good to fill your lungs with fresh air. If you don’t want to walk with friends or family, you can always walk alone, or push your baby in a stroller. This will help your body to burn even more calories because of the weight of the stroller, without it being too hard on your body.
Start With Gentle Exercises
Whenever it is time to safely exercise, it’s best to start with gentle exercises. Slow and steady always wins the race in terms of postpartum fitness. In addition to walking, stretching is a great easy exercise. Stretching is beneficial because it can break up any scar tissue that contributes to a belly pouch.
Here are three popular and easy gentle exercises that you can do:
Plow pose - Lie on the floor with your back down. Slowly and carefully reach your arms and legs above your head.
Sphinx pose - Lay on your stomach, and then try to lift your chest and head just a few inches from the floor.
Bridge pose - Laying on your back, bend your knees down and press through your heels. This will lift your lower body and back off the ground. Try to hold the pose for a couple seconds.
Each of the above moves works to stretch your stomach while strengthening your pelvic floor. They aren’t aggressive, however, if you notice any pain, it’s important to stop immediately.
To conclude, the weight will come off, you just need to be patient. Once you accept the weight gain and understand why it happened, it becomes easier to deal with and easier to get your pre baby body back.
Even though you can’t start exercising right away, you can change your diet to eat healthier foods at any point. Nourishing your body will also nourish your baby. Breastfeeding is another thing that you do right away that aids in weight loss. It’s a workout that will soon become second nature.
Be patient, enjoy your first few months with your baby, and before you know it, you’ll have your pre-pregnancy belly back. If you follow the above tips and recommendations, it will make the weight loss process easier as well.