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 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 reduce your c-section pooch and also 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.
Here’s how to get your hanging belly to go away, once you are allowed to engage in rigorous exercise again.
Table of Content
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 saggy belly by breastfeeding. The American Pregnancy Association says breastfeeding burns off as many calories as 45 to 60-minute run!
Postpartum support belts help too, as does minimize your stretch marks. These both will keep saggy skin from starting.
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 with a proper position. Make your husband help out or have relatives and friends who want to help watch the baby while you get enough rest.
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.
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 you. 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, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.