How to Lose Weight and Get in Shape After a C-Section

Woman stretching arms in the gymnasium
A young woman doing easy sit-ups as part of her routine. (Image: jomoba/iStock/Getty Images)

After nine months of carrying around a heavy baby belly, you're likely more than ready to get your familiar old body back. Cesarean sections take more of a toll on your body than uncomplicated vaginal deliveries because you have a major surgery to recover from. With the right balance of healing, light exercise, muscle work and good eating, you'll be able to reach your goal weight and develop the strength and stamina you'll need to care for your new addition.

Step 1

Wait until you see your doctor for that first follow-up appointment. You may feel ready but your incision site and healing tissues may tell another story. It can take up to six weeks on average before you're ready to start an exercise routine, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Step 2

Start strengthening and tightening your abdominal muscles with some easy breathing exercises designed to work your abdominal muscles. You can perform these exercises from the first day after your C-section, according to The Ohio State University. Place your hands or a pillow over your incision site and breathe deeply, filling up your diaphragm with as much air as possible. Exhale slowly and repeat until your muscles feel tired. Repeat several times per day.

Step 3

Eat a diet high in nutrients and low in saturated fat and excess sugars. This will help you lose weight and will support healing and a robust milk supply. Choose whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and low fat protein sources, according to MayoClinic.com. Make sure you're only eating when you're hungry.

Step 4

Consider breastfeeding your baby. Researches in a study published in the April 1993 Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that breastfeeding moms lose more weight, more quickly than moms who formula feed. Breastfeeding calls on your body to burn additional calories as it creates and replenishes your milk supply.

Step 5

Start a cardio program that includes a low impact but heart-rate increasing activities like walking or swimming. Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward to avoid muscle strain or injury. Perform these exercises at least three times per week, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Perform muscle strengthening exercises on off-days as muscle increases fitness level and burns more calories. Stop exercising if you feel a tearing sensation at your incision site or if you develop nausea, dizziness or any type of pain. Start slowly and build back up to your pre-pregnancy workout routines.

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