If you are here, there is a great chance that you have recently gone through a Caesarean delivery (C-section) and are now scouring the internet with the query – How to get rid of hanging belly after C Section?
But before we try to answer the “How“, let’s have a look at the “What” and the “Why“.
What is a C-section or a Caesarean delivery and why does it lead to a hanging belly?
What Is a C-section?
C-section is a surgical method of delivering a baby by making a cut around the mother’s abdomen. This procedure is preferred over a vaginal delivery when there are some possible health complications and the mother or the child could be at risk due to the vaginal delivery.
Some of the possible reasons to opt for a Caesarean delivery are twin pregnancy, obstructed labour, issues with the umbilical cord, etc. At times, a C-section is also performed upon request.
Why Does a C-section Lead to a Hanging Belly After Pregnancy?
During your pregnancy, it is highly likely that you would have gained some weight. One of the major reasons for this weight gain is the extra fluid that the body produces to accommodate the needs of the growing baby. Also, to make enough room for your growing baby in the belly, the muscles around your abdomen had to stretch.
You are aware that the body produces a lot of hormones during pregnancy and to prepare for childbirth, these hormones make the skin thinner and increase elasticity in the tissues around the abdomen and the uterus.
While the weight gain, expansion of the muscles, and loosening of the skin happen to almost every mother, a C-section delivery leads to a noticeable hanging belly after pregnancy.
The caesarean procedure in the C-section delivery, along with leaving a scar, creates an effect like that of a tight band being put at the bottom of the abdomen. This causes the already lax muscles around the abdomen to hang over this tight band around the scar.
How to Get Rid of Hanging Belly After C Section?
Before moving ahead, you need to understand that the delivery has left a surgical wound on your abdomen which first needs to heal. You should be really proud of what you have managed to achieve and not get disheartened by the loose overhang belly or the mommy pooch.
For the first 6-8 weeks after delivery, you should just allow the body to heal without undertaking any physical exercises. It runs the risk of the opening of the incision. There could also be muscle and joint injuries.
There are some effective methods that could help you get back to your pre-pregnancy state to a very large extent. Along with these methods, you just need to have a bit of patience and maintain a disciplined lifestyle. Also, just one method would not be very effective in achieving the end goal, we need to adopt a combination of the methods to get to the desired state.
Let’s look at some of these methods of how to get rid of hanging belly (Apron belly) after a C-section.
Breastfeeding is one of the easiest and the most natural processes to lose body weight/fat. The mother’s body requires energy to produce milk for the baby that leads to the burning of calories. As suggested by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a mother burns about 450 to 500 calories in a day in order to produce milk.
Breastfeeding also helps release a hormone called Oxytocin that aids in the contraction of the uterus. This is extremely beneficial for the health of your baby too.
2. Postpartum Massage
A few weeks after the delivery, mothers could consider taking a massage. A massage would help break the belly fat, release fluids from the nodes around the abdomen. This will help reduce abdominal swelling and help in weight loss.
A massage would also help boost the blood flow leading to an increase in immunity and thus fastening recovery.
Please note that the massage should be started only after the scar has healed to a certain extent or the abdominal area should be avoided in the initial few days.
3. Consider a Postpartum Girdle/Belt
Tying the tummy could be helpful in getting rid of the hanging belly after your C-section. It helps support your loosened and weak belly muscles and might help in the healing of the incision.
Although, it is better to lose the belt after you have lost a bit of the tummy and are in a position to take up regular exercises. You do not want your belly organs to get dependent on the support of a belt.
4. Consider Yoga
Taking up Yoga as a practice could be really helpful in reducing belly fat after the C-section. Yoga and meditation help strengthen the core muscles and handle the stress of both the body and the mind.
5. Healthy Diet & Nutrition
Since you have just given birth and are engaged in breastfeeding, you need to be extra cautious of what you are eating. Your body needs the essential nutrients for faster healing, and thus completely avoid the idea of starving yourself.
Start with recording your daily eating habits, what are you eating and how much are you eating. You can make use of calorie tracker apps for this, these apps also provide a nutrient breakup between proteins, carbs, fats, fibres, etc.
Progressing towards a healthy diet involves two steps, cutting out the bad stuff and substituting them with the good stuff. The aim is to eat lesser calories than what you are burning each day but also ensure that your body receives all the essential nutrients by what you are choosing to eat.
Let’s first look at some of the bad stuff that you must avoid.
- Fast food or Junk food
- Sugary foods/drinks
- Carbonated drinks
- Processed foods and fats
- Cookies, cakes, and pastries
- White bread
You can reduce this bad stuff by making slight lifestyle changes such as –
- Avoiding adding extra sauce on your meals
- Suppress the need to snack multiple times a day
- Avoiding drinking juice or soda with your meal
- Avoiding Adding extra cream to your coffee
Now let us look at the food items that must be added to our diet.
- Nuts & dry fruits
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.)
- Whole grains
Please ensure that your diet must be rich in proteins, fibres and iron. Also, avoid eating spicy foods, it is better to eat food that is easier on your stomach in terms of digestion.
6. Staying Hydrated
Drinking enough water should be one of the key answers to your search for how to get rid of hanging belly after a C section.
This will not only suppress your cravings for a juice or a soda but will also lessen the appetite as water takes up space in the stomach. Taking small sips of water during exercise will also help get the maximum outcome.
To lose weight and reduce body fat, our body needs to burn more calories than what we consume. Our human body burns calories to a large extent just by the natural courses of the day, but we know that it is not enough. So, we need to add more physical activities to our lifestyle.
But when a mother undergoes a caesarean delivery, the body needs more time to heal from the surgical incision. One cannot undertake strong physical exercises in the initial few weeks.
Thus, it is advisable that in the initial few weeks, a mother should only consider walking as one of the exercises to lose some calories. Walking will be easier on your body and your belly.
Post 6-8 weeks, once you feel that the wound has properly healed, you can indulge in an exercise routine with a mix of low and high-intensity workouts.
Please note that you should always focus on decreasing the overall body percentage. You cannot pick and target the fat on any specific body part.
You can start with some simple cardio workouts such as jogging, skipping, swimming, resistance training, cycling, lifting lighter weights, etc.
I would highly recommend HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts. HIIT exercises involve a set of physical activities alternating between some high-intense and some low-intense activities with very short breaks in between.
Here is one good link for a YouTube video on HIIT exercise from the channel, MomsIntoFitness.
Word of Caution – Never overdo your exercises in hopes of getting faster results. You are in a phase of recovery after childbirth especially through C-section and the body needs some time to get back to normal.
8. Take adequate sleep
Sleeping is no less than a superpower for us. Enough sleep helps us heal faster and also helps us stay calm and focused. So, a piece of practical advice would be to try and sleep when your baby sleeps.
In the end, I would like to wish you all the luck in this journey of getting rid of that hanging belly after pregnancy. If you do not have time to flatten your belly now, come back to this blog in a few months time and read How to lose baby belly after 1 year. And while you are at it, don’t forget, you are the most beautiful mother on this planet.