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 and you want to know how to get rid of that hanging belly after c section.

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 tricks on how to get rid of sagging lower belly at home after delivery. It’s time to beat that C-section pooch for good.

What is 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.

Why Do I Still Look Pregnant After My C-Section Delivery?

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

Mother Measuring Her Tummy after Giving Birth C-SectionThe uterus needs to shrink.

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.

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?

Woman Showing Her C Section Tummy And BabyYour 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.

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. Weight loss to get rid of your c-section pouch will not be easy.

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 post s-section.

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

Exercise Timeline

So, you want to know how to get rid of the c-section belly flap. Most doctors won’t approve a new mom to start doing anything other than very light post c-section workouts.

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!

Diet Timeline

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.

15 Home Remedies to Shrink Your Belly After a C-Section

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 for weight loss after cesarean section.

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.

Follow these tips and tricks and watch your belly shrink away:

5 Healthy Habits for the Tummy

1. Breastfeeding

Woman Breastfeeding Her Newborn BabyNo need to wait to start breastfeeding. As soon as your precious bundle of joy is born, you can start breastfeeding.

Believe it or not, breastfeeding can actually help flatten your belly. Not only does breastfeeding burn about 500 extra calories per day, but it also releases a hormone called oxytocin that stimulates uterine contractions, speeding up your uterus’s return journey to its pelvic home.

How does breastfeeding burn so many calories? Well, the American Pregnancy Association says a breastfeeding mom will secrete 425 and 700 calories into breast milk per day.

Because the body does not normally produce this highly specialized milk for baby, it has to work super hard to do so.

To burn roughly the same number of calories through exercise, a 140-pound woman would have to run a 10-minute mile pace for 45 to 60 minutes every day. Breastfeed to tighten up and lose weight!

2. Use a Postpartum Support Belt

Generally, within 12 hours of surgery, doctors encourage new moms to get up and move around. Some women find that not having any pressure on the site of the incision is uncomfortable.

Others find their abs feel loose and unsupported. To combat this discomfort, some OBs actually recommend wearing a postpartum support belt or girdle.

The jury is out in the medical community. While some OBs swear they help with postpartum discomfort and to compress the uterus, thereby helping it shrink, others think these waist trainers are nothing more than a gimmick.

Whether or not it helps shrink your waistline, doctors have been recommending similar belts for people with back pain due to weakened abdominal muscles (3).

Since your muscles have recently undergone trauma, it’s worthwhile to give yourself the extra support. In the process, you may even help your uterus shrink and find its normal spot, speeding up the process of reducing your tummy and getting rid of that c-section overhang.

3. Minimize Stretch Marks

While stretch marks don’t directly contribute to a loose tummy after a C-section, they can make you feel like the problem is magnified.

While there is no way to totally get stretch marks to disappear, using anti-stretch mark cream does show benefits on new and existing stretch marks (4). Plus, the act of massaging the lotion onto your belly can help with circulation in the abdominal region.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Mother And Her Baby Sleeping TogetherWith a newborn, you won’t be getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, but do try to make sleep a priority.

If your baby takes a nap, you take a nap! Sleep is not only good for getting rid of that baby weight, but also helps improve your emotional health, which is closely linked to your physical health.

Did you know that new moms who sleep less than 5 hours per night have a harder time getting rid of excess weight than those who sleep 7 hours?

This is likely because lack of sleep can cause systemic inflammation and a cortisol release. This hormone, known as the stress hormone, is often associated with weight gain, however, current research is inconclusive (5).

Regardless, do your best to get those zzz’s, even if it means you let some other areas slide such as cleaning or making elaborate meals.

5 Diet Tips for the Tummy

1. Keep a Food (and Exercise) Log

Write down everything you eat and drink including your portion sizes. Keeping a journal makes you more accountable with your dietary goals. You can also clearly see what you are eating and what easy dietary changes you can make.

There is a plethora of food logging apps, however, the old school pen and paper can work just as well. Choose a method that is easy for you and one you will stick to.

2. Hydrate Yourself

Mother-Keeping-Herself-Hydrated-Taking-Care-BabyNot only do breastfeeding moms need extra water to make milk, but drinking enough water and eating enough fruits and veggies with a high-water content may help you lose weight.

Water fills up your belly so you are less likely to mindlessly snack when you aren’t hungry.

Plus, studies show a correlation between hydration and weight loss (6). If water isn’t your favorite beverage, try jazzing it up by adding some citrus or fresh mint.

Cucumber water is another delicious option. You can also nosh on snacks with a high-water content like watermelon, cucumber, celery, and lettuce.

3. Try a Smart Cleanse

No this doesn’t mean try a fad diet or a lemon water cleanse. This simply means decrease the overall amount of junk food you are eating and fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Use your new mom lifestyle as motivation for changing your eating habits. Eating a diet rich in fiber and nutrients while drinking plenty of water will get your digestive system moving to promote regularity and feeling lighter.

Here are some simple tips you can do today:

  • Cut out sugar sweetened beverages (i.e. regular soda, sports drinks, loaded coffee and tea drinks)
  • Limit caffeinated beverages to 2-3 cups per day
  • Make all your grains and pastas whole grain
  • Make half of your plate fruit and vegetables
  • Do not skip meals

4. Choose to Snack Healthier

Mom Choosing Healthy SnacksAside from not skipping meals, new moms should also choose healthy snacks to curb hunger and get adequate nutrition.

When you hit the grocery store, remember to stock up on healthy, nutritious snacks rather than fatty and sugary items.

Snack sensibly by choosing some of these options:

  • 1/4 cup of nuts
  • 1 cup veggies (i.e. baby carrots) with hummus
  • 1 cup whole milk dairy
  • Apples and bananas
  • Whole grain crackers and nut butter
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • String cheese

With these healthy snacks on hand, you’ll have healthy options when the hunger bug bites. Keeping such snacks in your home can help you fight the temptations that make the tummy struggle even harder.

5. Optimize Your Milk Production (For Baby and Belly)

As we mentioned earlier, breastfeeding and milk production burns calories. In order to optimize your milk production abilities, here are some specific foods that may increase milk supply according to La Leche League. Do it for the baby and for yourself!

  • Barely
  • Oatmeal
  • Fennel
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Anise
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Chickpeas

5 Exercise Tips for the Tummy

1. Include Baby

Many new moms struggle to find the time to work out while tending to their new baby. Instead of trying to cram a workout in while your little one sleeps, do a workout you can do with baby.

Go on a walk with your baby, use your baby as resistance for weight training, or check out your local gym. Many gyms offer programs like Stroller Strides designed to get new moms back in tip top shape while including baby in the workout.

You can also check out some at-home workouts you can do with baby here.

2. Do Planks

While your abdominal muscles may be weak postpartum, try some planks! Unlike crunching exercises that repeatedly cause the split abdominal muscles to contract, planks offer constant resistance with minimal movement.

Planks are great for stabilizing the core and led to closure of diastasis recti in one study. Start out with 2 plank sets at 30 seconds each and work up from there.

3. Do Kegels

Kegels are a type of exercise that helps strengthen your pelvic floor.  Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on this muscle due to the added weight you were carrying around.

In this exercise, you tighten your pelvic floor for 5-10 seconds as you breath in and release as you breath out. Never done Kegels? Don’t worry.

All you have to do is tighten your muscles like you would if you were trying to hold in your pee.

4. Do Postpartum Exercises

Pelvic Tilts

For this exercise, lie on your back, with your knees bent. Slowly engage your deep core muscles to tilt your pelvis slightly up and back.

To pull in, you’ll flatten your back against the floor, tightening your abdominals and slightly raising your rear as you pull your pelvis up. Hold for 10 seconds. Then relax again.

Heel Slides

A heel slide is simple. You lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Leave about a hand’s length between your butt and the heel of your foot.

While pulling your belly button down towards your spine, slowly slide one heel down, so that your leg lies flat and then pull it back in slowly. Then do the other side. Repeat up to 10 times to start.

Remember to perform these exercises with proper posture and always keep the belly pulled in. Activating the core will build strength and pull your waistline in, beating the baby bulge.

You can make a routine out of these exercises by doing them in the morning when you get up, while your baby’s napping or even during TV commercials when you’re taking a bit of a break.

5. Get More Active When Not Working Out

While you won’t be cleared for heavier exercise until 8 weeks after your C-section, you can start by doing some light walking each day.

Don’t push yourself too hard, especially in the beginning. After the initial recovery period, you can begin to do some other exercises. Abs exercises after c section are a great way to target your abdomen, but be sure to take it easy.

Burn through that lingering belly fat by going on at least 3 brisk walks per week. Art Weltman, PhD, director of exercise physiology at the University of Virginia tells Health, “Fast-paced walking, when combined with healthy eating, is hugely effective for weight loss.”

Don’t forget the baby! You can carry your baby in a sling or push them in a stroller to increase the resistance and burn more calories. Overall, exercise after c section to reduce your tummy is very helpful.

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 post s-section belly! 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 weight loss after cesarean section? 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.