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You’ve just had a C-section. You feel ecstatic, exhausted and every emotion in between. Now that you’re home, you’re ready to get back to your pre-baby weight. You may even be ready to get into even better shape than you were before baby.
Not so fast. Recovery can take up to six weeks. And during that time, strenuous activity is off limits.
Once those six weeks are up (or your doctor gives you the go-ahead), you can start shedding those pregnancy pounds.
Be patient and be prepared for hard work
Hard work may be two words you don’t want to hear after pregnancy and birth, but there’s no getting around the fact that losing weight does take some work.
And you should know that women who have a C-section usually have a harder time losing the baby weight.
Don’t let this discourage you. Use this as motivation to prove everyone wrong.
So, why does a C-section make it harder to lose weight?
There are several reasons why this method of delivery makes it difficult to drop those baby pounds.
For starters, the trauma of labor puts your body in a stressed state. A C-section is a major operation. Doctors literally slice through your abdominal muscles. You lose a lot of blood, and you stay inactive for longer because the recovery time is longer.
- Your abdominals need to recover
- Your wound may take months to heal
- The surgery may change the shape of your belly
That longer recovery time may setback your weight loss efforts a little bit, but don’t worry – you’ll be ready to get back in the game before you know it.
4 Top tips for losing weight after a C-section
Now that you know what to expect, you can go into your weight loss journey with the tenacity and ferocity you need to kick those extra pounds to the curb.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
One of the simplest ways to start losing weight is to breastfeed. I know that breastfeeding isn’t for every mom, but if you can and want to nurse, it will help you drop a few pounds.
Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories – between 300 and 500 per day.
The good news: breastfeeding burns extra calories. The bad news: breastfeeding can make you ferociously hungry.
And when a new mom gets hungry, she reaches for the fastest, most-satisfying snack she can find.
2. Make smart snack and food choices
Eating healthy is the key to losing weight, but with so much temptation everywhere, it can be difficult to make smart food choices.
One way to resist temptation is to fill your home with healthy snacks that are easy to pick up and eat, such as:
- Yogurt (plain – flavored yogurt is filled with sugar)
- Fruit (apples, bananas, berries, grapes, etc.)
- Meat roll-ups
These snacks are easy to pick up and eat without too much prep work, which can help you stay on the right track even when everything is chaos around you.
If you have some help around the kitchen, you may ask your partner, friend or family member to make and pack some snacks for you ahead of time. This way, you can just reach in the refrigerator and grab a pack whenever your cravings strike.
3. Wear a post-pregnancy belt or girdle
Doctors often recommend wearing a post-pregnancy girdle or belt to help protect the incision wound. But these belts and girdles also help you maintain proper posture (which helps with pain) and keeps everything in place (i.e. your belly).
These devices can help to start reshaping your tummy and will help make your recovery a little less painful.
4. Start moving
Exercise will help you burn more calories and start to lose weight, but don’t be overzealous. Start with gentle exercises that will help strengthen your core muscles and get you on the path to a full recovery.
Here are some exercises to try:
The bridge will work your core muscles as well as your glutes, but it won’t put any strain on your stitches.
- Lay down with your feet flat on the floor.
- Position your legs so that they’re hip-width apart, place your arms at your sides, palm-side down.
- Using your abdominal muscles, lift your buttocks, then your stomach, and then the middle of your back. Your body should look like a bridge.
- Keep your shoulders on the ground.
- Hold the position for ten seconds.
- Slowly lower to the ground.
Repeat this exercise six to eight times (or however many times you can).
The pelvic tilt exercise is a simple one that you can start doing fairly early on in the recovery process. It’s not too strenuous, and it will help build strength in the midsection.
- Contract your abdominal muscles.
- Use these muscles to tilt your pelvis forward.
The great thing about this exercise is that it can be done anywhere – laying down, sitting down and even standing.
Perform a dozen pelvic tilts daily (or as many as you’re physically able) to help restore your core muscles.
Walking is a simple and effective way to start losing weight after your C-section. Start slowly and only walk on flat surfaces, like paved walkways.
Begin by walking just a short distance and gradually work your way up to longer distances as you gain stamina and strength.
Once you’ve regained some strength, you can try interval training with your walking. Start out by walking at a medium pace for a few minutes, and then walk briskly for a few minutes before slowing down to a relaxing stroll. Repeat this cycle a three or four times.
It may be some time before you can start doing strenuous exercises. In the meantime, swimming exercises can help you burn those extra calories without putting too much of a strain your body.
Make sure that your doctor gives you the green light to do water exercises before you even attempt to start a routine.
The great thing about aquatic exercises is that you can burn a good amount of calories and strengthen muscles without putting your recovery at risk.
Work on your diet
We talked about healthy snacks earlier, which are a must for new moms. But it’s equally important to make sure that you’re eating a healthy diet overall.
Trade in unhealthy processed foods for fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Opt for whole grains instead of their refined counterparts. Limit your sugar intake, and be mindful of how much carbs you’re eating.
Many new moms find that meal planning and prepping is the easiest way to stay on track. Just like with the snack idea, if you have your meals prepped and ready to go, it’s much easier to resist temptation.
Meal planning and prepping will take a little extra time, but it will help jumpstart your weight loss efforts.
Don’t push yourself too hard
One of the biggest mistakes new moms make is pushing themselves too hard after their C-section.
If you overwhelm yourself, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
Start out with small changes, and continue making these small changes a little at a time. Eventually, your efforts snowball into big, lasting changes that will help you lose the baby weight – and keep it off.