After a cesarean section, it might feel impossible to get your body back into pre-baby shape. But take heart, a little dedication and patience goes a long way in getting your body back. While pregnancy itself takes a toll on your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, c-sections cause even more stress to this area. Due to this, extra care and dedication is needed to rebuild and restore the belly. While it may take more work, it is not impossible to lose the post-c-section pooch.
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Always talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. This is especially important after a c-section as complications can arise. Be sure to wait at least six to eight weeks before beginning to ensure proper healing of your body. After you are given the all clear, begin slowly. Remember, your muscles have been cut and need extra care and work. Stop and consult your doctor if you feel any pain as a result of abdominal usage, as this may be an indication of undiagnosed complications.
You Are What You Eat
Eat a healthy diet to promote a flat stomach. Diet and exercise go hand in hand, especially when targeting the belly. Cut out as much processed foods as possible while increasing the amounts of produce, lean meats, and healthy fats. Focus on the quality of your food, not the quantity. If you are breastfeeding, dieting is a no-no. You need at least 1,800 to 2,000 calories each day to maintain a quality milk supply. This is because breastfeeding burns a ton of calories, helping you to lose weight. It may even tighten your pooch, as nursing contracts your uterus and helps it return to pre-baby size.
Grab Your Walking Shoes
One of the easiest ways to begin losing weight after baby is by walking. This is a low impact exercise that burns calories and helps rev up your metabolism. Walking, like most exercise, can help lift your mood and increase your energy, much needed with all those sleepless nights. It is easy to get baby involved in your walking routine too; all you need is a stroller. If you don't enjoy walking solo, grab a friend, your husband, or join a stroller walking club in your area.
In The Beginning...
If you had a c-section in the last six months, after your doctor's okay, begin with only one or two abdominal strengthening exercises before slowly building up to more. If it has been more than six months, begin abdominal strengthening at a beginner's level and progress slowly. Ensure you use proper form to help promote your healing and progress. Some women report that their abdomen feels differently afterwards, due to scar tissue and nerve damage. If this is you, it may take longer to find the ability to contract and utilize these areas of your abdomen.
Do not do sit-ups, curl ups, or crunches until after your doctor has given you approval. These can separate your abdominal muscles. Instead, begin with pelvic tilting exercises. Simply contract your abdominal muscles and use them to tilt your hips forward. These can be done sitting, standing, or laying down. Do these daily, or as often as you are physically able, to begin restoring your abdominal muscles and promote healing. Continue to restore your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles by utilizing Pilates or yoga exercises. These are low impact and focus on tightening the core. Always ensure you have proper form to prevent injury and maximize your workout.
The plank is excellent at engaging your abdominal muscles. Begin with a modified plank. Hold a pushup position with knees on the floor for as along as you can, making sure your abs are contracted the entire time and your back is straight. Once that is mastered and comfortable, try a standard plank. Hold a pushup position with your abs contracted and knees off the floor. Do this several times a week, or as often as you are physically able.
The bridge strengthens your pelvic floor, butt and hamstrings. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your feet hip-distance apart. Contract your abdominal muscles to press your back into the floor. Maintain your abdominals and spine in this position throughout the exercise. Lift your hips off the floor and toward the ceiling while pushing into your heels for stability. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds, lower your body, and repeat three to five times several times a week.
The modified cobra also helps with the pelvic floor. Begin on your stomach with your palms on the floor next to your shoulders and elbows tucked into your ribs. Lift up your head and neck, not so much that it strains your back, and suck in your abs as if you were trying to lift your pelvis off the floor. Repeat four to eight times several times a week.