Whether you chose to have your c-section or it chose you, once you’re out of the hospital, you’re most certainly wondering when you can get your body back. You wince at the pain, but don’t worry…it will go away soon (see my post on that!). And you hope that you can stop looking pregnant and saggy.
All in due time, my dear!
How long does it take for your belly to go down after a c-section?
It will take several weeks, at the very least. Your body took nine months to stretch out, so it’s only reasonable you need to wait it out.
That doesn’t mean pining for your perfect body every time you look in the mirror. You’re going to have to get used to how you look, for now.
Eating right and exercising will undoubtedly help you, but in the first six weeks postpartum, it’s crucial for you to follow your doctor’s orders. Do not exercise, save for light walking, until after your 6-week checkup once your doctor has given the all-clear.
What about that c-section pooch?
Every mom gets this after a c-section, but unfortunately, some of us are stuck with these mummy tummy shelves for a good while others will be slim and trim. There are many factors for this, such as genetics, leftover scar tissue development (I talked about that here), and how you take care of yourself.
Even if genetics are doing you a disservice, you can still get rid of the c-section belly flap and even make it disappear. There’s no guarantee, though, but it’s worth trying.
Just look at Victoria Beckham. She’s had multiple c-sections, and she looks flawless. Is it cosmetic surgery? She admits to breast augmentation, though I can’t find anything that confirms whether or not she had a tummy tuck. Even if she did, no shame. It is certainly an option you can pursue if you try and try and can’t get that bulge to go.
Alright, alright. So we’re not celebrities with access to dieticians and personal trainers every day, or the best plastic surgeons money can buy. But that doesn’t mean we need to suffer from the tummy shelf. That FUPA has got to go. In case you’re wondering, ‘FUPA’ is short for ‘Fat Upper Pubic Area.’ The technical word for it is panniculus.
Wondering how to get rid of c-section FUPA?
FUPA after a c-section can make you feel unhappy with yourself. Just look at this before and after the c-section overhang picture below. You can clearly see that belly and how it hangs over in a while in the woman’s hands. And in the after picture, you can see that it is flatter and smoother. That’s what you want, right?
Here’s how to get your hanging belly to go away, once you are allowed to engage in rigorous exercise again.
How to Reduce Tummy after C-section Naturally?
Lucky for you, there are many ways to reduce your belly naturally after having a c-section. I will cover every option you’ve got, so please read on!
First, I want to discuss why you get that hanging belly. It’s more common for c-section mamas though that doesn’t just cause it. Pregnancy and gaining weight, in general, can bring it on. Yup that means men can get a hanging belly too!
Building healthy habits after birth (ideally before, though) is ideal. As you go through these things below, keep in mind that you should keep this area clean and dry. I have some tips on that in another post, but if anything hurts or has a foul odor, it’s something you should discuss with your doctor.
Form Healthy Habits Right after the Birth
Ideally, you’re just fresh out of the hospital or about to go in for your c-section. You can minimize your saggy belly by breastfeeding. The American Pregnancy Association says breastfeeding burns off as many calories as a 45 to 60-minute run!
And while you might find this laughable considering how hard it is to sleep when you have a newborn, you really should get enough sleep in the proper position. Make your husband help out or have relatives and friends who want to help watch the baby while you get enough rest.
Knowing how to hide a c-section pouch is a great way to get through these tips while you work on getting your body back after birth. The right clothes will help conceal any remaining bulge. Postpartum support belts help too, as does minimize your stretch marks. These both will keep saggy skin from starting, which will keep your belly from looking even bigger. Another bonus is that support belts can help keep sweat and stench from building up in that flap to keep it healthier.
Go All-In with Your C-section Diet
I recently discussed this topic in-depth, so be sure to read what to eat after your c-section. It’s so essential for your health and your baby’s health too if you’re breastfeeding. Plus, it will help you accomplish your goal of getting rid of that overhang too.
- Keep a journal
I’m not sure who first said, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” Looking online, I find a million people using it. Even a friend of mine who once worked in HR and found her calling as a personal trainer has always told me this.
What it means is that what you eat is most important for getting that flat belly. If we keep a journal that logs what we eat, portion size, mood during eating, and what exercises we do, we can spot patterns.
Think about it…can you remember what you ate for lunch yesterday? Or the day before? You might forget you snagged a handful of nuts when you ran into the kitchen to start dinner. Your journal keeps you honest. Doing this was a game-changer for me.
- Water, water, water
I must admit I’m one of the worst with water, however water flushes away toxins from the body and helps improve circulation. If you feel like you’re forcing yourself, just do what I do and add some lemon or fresh fruit to it. A fruit infuser is the best gift you can give yourself, making all the water you drink taste like juice without anything unnatural!
- Eat the right stuff
Again, see my c-section diet post. It tells you what foods you should get more of and what to avoid. I should also mention you might want to avoid gassy foods for a bit, like broccoli or beans. They can make going to the bathroom a pain, quite literally!
Exercises to Help Bust the Bulge
Now that you’ve been cleared for more activity than simple walking, here are some tips you can use in tandem with eating right. Again, much of it is what you eat. If you’re cramming tacos and donuts in your mouth daily, guess what? You’re going to keep that shelf. I know, I was guilty of it too. Nothing really changed for me until I got strict with myself.
- No excuses…take the baby with
When both my girls were newborns, I had a devil of a time trying to work out in our little apartment in China. I would wait until they’d take a nap and I’d start my routine only to be interrupted in the middle of it a short time later.
So I started taking them out in the baby carrier, which is a workout in itself. On smoggy days, I’d put on tunes, put them in the baby carrier, and dance around. This helped me bond with my girls and soothed them. Plus, I got to look at those precious faces!
- Plank it up
Planks are still something I do in my day. I try to hold them as long as I can. I do them in my kitchen while dinner is cooking, I do them while I’m on the phone with friends, I just do them!
Try starting with 2 of them per day, holding them for 30 seconds each. Those planks can really make a difference.
- Strengthen the pelvic floor
Interestingly, getting the pelvic floor muscles back on track will help you out quite a bit. If you didn’t do your Kegel exercises before you gave birth, you should be doing them now. Just pretend like you’re going pee and then clench like you have to hold it. Then release.
Honestly, these are great for orgasms too. And I still do them every time I go pee.
Pelvic tilts are another way to come at it. This will help you get the strength back into your core. Slow and steady wins this race.
- Do your cardio
Even if you’re an avid exerciser, take it slow after your c-section. You should aim to do three vigorous cardio sessions per week. Start simply with three brisk walks, followed by strengthening exercises like the ones I mention above.
Do not try to push yourself. You could tear something and cause yourself to have to sit out and recover for longer. Go with walking, then step it up after two weeks. Then, step it up again until you’re back on top of your game. Even fast-paced walking is beneficial for weight loss, especially if you’re eating right.
Watch Out for Diastasis Recti
And before you do any of this, check for diastasis recti. This is when your abdominal muscles separate. It happens to EVERY pregnant woman on the planet; however, for some, these muscles do not merge back together.
Care must be taken to work those muscles to avoid widening the gap further. There are exercises you can do to handle it, and you shouldn’t do any other abdominal exercises until you do the ones that can help diastasis recti go away.
Symptoms of diastasis recti after c-section include a protruding belly and feeling weak in the core area. You may also have incontinence 8 weeks after giving birth and beyond. Because of the separated abs, it can lead to pelvic floor troubles that cause urinary leakage, painful sex, and constipation. You may have lower back pain and look like you’re pregnant for months or even years after birth.
How to Get Rid of Hanging Belly after C-section Years Later?
If you try the tips, I’ve mentioned above and still have a hanging belly after your c-section years later, you may want to consider c-section shelf removal.
However, I must tell you that excess fat and excess skin in the area are the reason you’re still battling this bulge. If you want to avoid having a hanging belly, you should enact the tips above as soon as possible after your postpartum checkup when your doctor says you can get back to regular activities.
Surgery is most definitely an option, though there’s always a risk which is why it is best to try to get rid of your belly overhang after your c-section naturally.
Get rid of hanging belly after second c-section (and successive ones)
You can very possibly get rid of a c-section shelf even after your second c-section. Or your third or more! All you need to do is eat right, exercise, and take care of your skin so it will tighten back up.
Unfortunately, not every mama does these things. This is why c-section shelf removal may be something you want to do. You can do a mini tummy tuck to help remove the excess skin and fat. However, if you don’t make lifestyle changes, all that money and recovery time will go to waste. You’ll only wind up with a pooch again.
Does Insurance Cover C-section Scar Removal?
No, your insurance won’t cover a c-section scar removal. Furthermore, c-section shelf removal covered by insurance never happens as it is entirely cosmetic. So if you decide to do any of these surgeries, you will be shouldering the burden of that expense on your own.
Additionally, plastic surgeons do not recommend c-section shelf removal if you have more children. You should wait until you’re confident you do not want to have more kids before performing this kind of procedure.
For many of you, if you follow these tips, your belly pouch will go away or at least subside to the degree that makes you more comfortable with your body. You can opt for surgery if you prefer, or you can be happy with yourself. Whatever you choose, I wish you nothing but the best!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.