So, you survived pregnancy and childbirth. Any mom will tell you: pregnancy and childbirth is no easy feat, especially if you have a C-section. While you are left recovering from the grueling task of growing and birthing a tiny human from your body, you are probably pretty surprised by the state of your tummy after baby. Don’t fear, Mama! You can get rid of that post-baby belly, even after a C-section.
But remember to be realistic. Just because all the celebrities have bikini bodies days after giving birth, doesn’t mean this is normal (or that you “should” be the same way). While it seems like every celebrity who gives birth is immediately bikini ready, the reality is different. Since celebrities make their living off of their image, they may use extreme weight loss methods that aren’t necessarily safe.
Chances are, the average woman will take much longer to reclaim her flat belly after a C-section, and that’s okay. No matter what, you and your baby’s health should come first. Just because it will take a little time and work, doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
Read on to discover tips and trick to shrink your tummy at home after delivery. It’s time to beat that C-section pooch for good.
Here is what you’ll discover in this article (Click any of the links below to jump to each section):
- What is a C-Section?
- Why Do I Still Look Pregnant After My C-Section Delivery?
- How Long Will It Take to Shrink My Belly After a C-Section?
- What if I Don’t Want to Wait to Shrink my Tummy?
- Tell Me When! Timeline for Starting to Diet and Exercise
- 15 HOME REMEDIES to Shrink Your Belly After a C-Section
If you’re reading this, you probably have personal experience with a C-section. Whether it was you, a friend or a family member who endured the procedure, you’re aware that a caesarean section, more commonly known as a C-section, is the surgical delivery of a baby. In this procedure, a horizontal cut is made through the mother’s abdomen and uterus to safely deliver the baby. Most of the time, C-sections are performed due to medical reasons. Sometimes C-sections can be scheduled ahead of time whereas in other cases, they are emergency operations. Common reasons for a C-section include:
- Stalled labor
- Lack of oxygen to the baby
- Baby’s position and size
- Problems with the umbilical cord
- Problems with the placenta
- Health concerns that require a speedy delivery
- A history of previous C-sections
- Multiple pregnancy (i.e. twins)
- Maternal diabetes or high blood pressure
- Maternal HIV or herpes
While as many as 1/3 of all American births occur via C-section, it’s still a major surgery. Before you even begin to think about losing the post C-section belly, you have to allow ample time to heal and recover. Undergoing a C-section means your abdominal muscles have been completely cut into, and you have a surgical wound to mend. This wound must be allowed to heal, and your muscles must start to repair before you begin making any efforts to reduce your tummy area.
Having dealt with 40 weeks of weight gain and a growing belly, you were probably pretty excited to not have a big belly bump anymore. Don’t pack your pre-baby jeans for the hospital though. Even though the baby is out, your belly might still look pregnant. Before you get upset or frustrated, remember this is perfectly normal. Your body went through an amazing transformation to grow a baby. The miracle of life will have some consequences that will take a while for your body to work through.
Why That Tummy is Still There
It takes the uterus 6 to 8 weeks to return to its pre-pregnancy size. Just after birth, your uterus is still stretched out from your pregnancy. It takes time for your uterus to shrink back to normal, so be patient. The shrinking of the uterus is called “involution.” During the time your uterus is undergoing involution, you will likely still look a little pregnant (and experience the joys of continued contractions as the uterus shrinks).
You may be retaining fluid from your delivery.
C-section patients are often pumped full of IV fluids during surgery. These fluids take time to get filtered out of the system. Some women even develop a condition known as edema, where they experience swelling of the ankles, in the face and other areas (1). Although this symptom is typically associated with pregnancy, it is also quite common postpartum as well. This is because pregnancy itself requires the body to hold greater amounts of water and blood to support your unborn child and yourself. In fact, during pregnancy, your body produces up to 50 percent more fluids than normal. Over the first few days after giving birth, you may notice that you’ll urinate more frequently, up to 3 quarts a day! You might sweat a lot too. This all helps your body return to its normal levels of water and blood.
You may hold on to extra weight.
In a healthy pregnancy, doctors urge women to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. While you do lose about 10 pounds during birth between a 7 to 8-pound baby and 2 to 3 pounds of amniotic fluid and blood, that still leaves you with an extra 15 to 25 pounds of added weight remaining. Once again, this is normal. In the past, it was important for women to have a bit of extra weight after birth to be able to nourish their newborn. Even though food supplies are more stable than they were for our ancestors, our bodies have retained this “body fat insurance” for our own preservation.
Your abdominal muscles are stretched.
Any pregnancy will stretch out your abdominal muscles, meaning your tummy area won’t be as tight as it was before you got pregnant, even if you were in pretty good shape. If this pregnancy was not your first, your abdominal muscles may stretch even further, especially if you didn’t work on your abdominal muscles after previous pregnancies. This is par for the course. With our suggested home remedies, however, you’ll be able to work on toning up your tummy area so that you can look and feel great again.
In addition to minor stretching of your abs, some new moms develop a more serious muscle problem called diastasis recti. This is a separation between the right and left side of the abdominal walls and can cause long term pain (2). In pregnancy, those abdominal muscles get stretched over a growing baby and can pull apart or thin significantly. After pregnancy, most women’s abdominal muscles close, but a whopping 30 percent are left with a gap wider than 2 finger widths apart. Some women may experience annoying health-related conditions like urinary incontinence and hernias from the weak abdominal wall. Plus, it can make a postpartum belly look worse than it would otherwise.
How Long Will It Take to Shrink My Belly After a C-Section?
Your belly will be doing some heavy duty shrinking in the first few weeks post-delivery. The excess fluid should work through your system within a couple weeks, and your uterus will begin to shrink, contributing to a thinning belly with little extra work on your part in the beginning.
Remember: It took 40 long weeks to grow your belly to the size it was to house your baby. After birth, whether you delivered vaginally or via C-section, it will take your uterus 6 to 8 weeks to shrink down to its pre-pregnancy size.
Prepare for the 4th Trimester
According to Baby Center, by the time you actually go into labor or deliver your bundle of joy via C-section, your uterus has expanded to be 15 times heavier and hold 500 times more capacity than it did prior to getting pregnant. Unfortunately, your uterus needs time, often referred to as the 4th trimester, to return to its normal size after all that growth.
Immediately post birth, a doctor or nurse can feel your uterus near your belly button. It takes an entire 2 weeks for your uterus to return completely into the pelvis and another several weeks for your uterus to reach pre-baby size.
During this time, your belly will continue to have a little bit of a bump.
After the initial 6 to 8 weeks is up, your uterus will have returned to normal. Phew! It is then you may obtain clearance from your doctor to begin losing the extra baby weight and toning up your belly.
Create Your Tummy Toning Plan
As you can imagine, there are more factors affecting your belly size than your uterus alone. Like most new moms, you’re probably carrying around extra weight. Be patient with yourself! It may take almost as long to flatten your belly as it did to grow it in the first place.
Develop a weight loss plan for toning that tummy. For healthy weight loss, aim to lose about a pound per week. At this rate, it will take you 15 weeks (about 4 months) to lose 15 pounds of baby weight.
In terms of calories, losing one pound per week needs a deficit of 500 calories per day (1 pound equals 3500 calories). If you’re breastfeeding, however, keep in mind that you will need about 500 extra calories to supply enough milk for your baby. Along with a healthy diet, breastfeeding can help you burn calories for weight loss.
Overall, developing a realistic and structured weight loss plan will help you reach your goals. After all, you are still adjusting to life with a newborn, so give yourself plenty of time. For a complete weight loss guide, click here.
What if I Don’t Want to Wait to Shrink my Tummy?
There are no quick fixes! Patience is key when getting your belly slim after a C-section. To convince you (hopefully) to postpone weight loss and toning efforts too soon after birth, here is a list of dangerous consequences for jumping in too quickly:
- Heavy postpartum bleeding
- Joint and muscle injuries
- Splitting of your surgical wounds (whether in the abdominal area or perineum)
It is crucial to get your doctor’s approval prior to exercising after your C-section. Besides, what’s the point of pushing yourself too soon, causing injury and then having a set back in your recovery?
Tell Me When! Timeline for Starting to Diet and Exercise
Most doctors won’t approve a new mom to start doing anything other than very light exercise for 6 weeks after delivery. Post C-section, some doctors recommend waiting 8 weeks or more to let yourself fully heal from your surgery. Regardless, respect your doctor’s recommendations!
According to What to Expect when You’re Expecting, dieting isn’t recommended for first 6 weeks post birth either. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery tax the body quite heavily. A new mom needs all the nutrition she can get to begin to replenish her vitamin and mineral stores.
You’re probably eager to get back on the road to recovery and enjoy your pre-pregnancy body again. While this urge is understandable, remember that before you try any of the suggested remedies below that you get approval from your doctor, especially when taking on exercise.
Although you may feel great, your doctor will be able to evaluate how your C-section wound is healing and the state of your overall health. Giving birth via C-section takes a major toll on the body, so make sure you’re being safe about your follow up plans.
Now, let’s get on to learning how you can safely get rid of that C-section pooch.
Take It Easy: Listen to Your Body
For any of these home remedies to flatten your tummy, make sure you are working closely with your doctor throughout the whole process. Not only are you battling the physical hardships postpartum, but you also may be enduring new emotional and mental stress. Make sure to build a support network of friends, family and your healthcare provider so that you can accomplish your responsibilities and reach your goals.
With time, patience, hard work and being realistic, you can create a personalized plan to get rid of your pregnancy pooch! Once you’ve recovered from the initial surgery, try these 15 home remedies to reduce your tummy after a C-section.
Have you already gotten started on your post-pregnancy weight loss plan? We’d love to hear about your progress and about other methods you’ve found helpful! Tell us all about your post-C-section weight loss journey in the comments below.