Losing weight after a Cesarean section may be more difficult due to the restriction on some types of exercise and the recovery period required after any type of surgery. Women who are obese or have had gestational diabetes may have a more difficult time losing weight. However, in order to lose excess "baby" weight after a C-section, the tried-and-true combination of exercise and diet is still the best way to get back into your skinny jeans.
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What is a Cesarean Section?
A Cesarean section, or C-section, is a surgical procedure to take a baby out of its mother through her abdomen. Approximately one in four women in the U.S. deliver via C-section. The doctor makes an incision into the abdomen either horizontally, called a low transverse incision, or vertically, called a classic or low vertical incision. These incisions cut through skin, fat, muscle and nerves and may take weeks to heal.
Activity Restrictions After A C-Section
Because a C-section is considered major surgery, it carries a higher risk of complications than a vaginal birth. If complications arise, activity may be even more restricted than with an uncomplicated C-section. Normally, a C-section requires a longer hospital stay than a vaginal delivery. However, once you're discharged, your doctor may suggest that you start walking as soon as you feel comfortable. Walking can help prevent blood clots, a potentially life-threatening condition. Walking also helps burn calories and boosts metabolism, which helps lose weight. Your doctor may recommend waiting six to eight weeks before resuming your exercise routine. Because muscles atrophy and metabolism slows during periods of inactivity, it may take longer to regain what was lost and start losing weight.
Nutritional Needs After a C-Section
The increased needs for nutrients after surgery may be another reason losing weight after a C-section may be more difficult than after a vaginal birth. Nutritional needs increase after major surgery to help facilitate healing and prevent infection. Increasing protein intake after surgery can help repair tissues damaged during the procedure. Cutting calories may not be an option while recovering from a C-section and may make weight loss more difficult. Fortunately, protein is a dieter's friend and can help speed weight loss. Reducing your intake of fats and carbohydrates while increasing your intake of protein may help speed weight loss. Cutting calories while breastfeeding is also not recommended. The body requires additional calories to manufacture high-quality breast milk. Consult your doctor or lactation consultant before dieting while breastfeeding.
Best Exercises After a C-Section
Walking, jogging, swimming and biking are the best exercises to undertake after a C-section. Trying to spot-tone the tummy can result in toned abdominal muscles but doesn't contribute much to weight loss.
Moving, stretching and lifting too soon after a C-section can increase pain, delay healing, and at worst, tear open the incision. Consult your doctor for the best plan to lose weight and begin exercising after having a Cesarean section.