How I Regained My Core Strength After Having a C-Section

I was never big on planks and crunches. But damn, I had no idea how often I used my core in everyday life-standing on the subway, getting out of the bathtub, picking up objects-until I had my first child. That’s when everything changed. I delivered via an emergency C-section, and let’s just say I couldn’t even sit up to feed my newborn afterward.

Pregnancy is hard on your core to begin with, but C-sections are a very real surgery. It requires cutting or moving the fascia and separating your abdominal muscles in order to get to the uterus (and ultimately the baby). When you injure these muscles it decreases their strength and their range of motion.

“All the layers need time to heal,” says Emily Prouse, M.D., of Metropolitan OBGYN in Denver, who recommends about six to eight weeks of recovery time (no heavy lifting, light walking). “After the six-week mark, you can increase the intensity of exercise and start lifting a little weight.”

For me, walking was the first step to getting those muscles going again. And once I had healed from the incision, I knew it was time to work at regaining my core in a more targeted way. But when your belly is like Jell-O and your midsection is weak from the stress of pregnancy and surgery, it can be hard to get back into the groove.

Here’s what I learned from losing-and regaining-my core strength.

Weakness isn’t forever.

I know it feels like you’ll never be strong again, but you will recover. By the time my incision healed, I was already getting stronger and started to be able to walk more easily, pick up lighter things, and stand for longer periods of time to rock my baby. And in a way, because I needed a lot of help, it taught me to have more patience with myself. That, in turn, allowed me to have more patience with motherhood in general. Slow and steady is just fine.

Don’t judge that belly.

Your post-pregnancy belly probably won’t bounce back right away. I was surprised that I still looked pregnant a few weeks after giving birth. The uterus takes time to return to its pre-pregnancy size, but what’s cute with a baby in it doesn’t feel so sexy once your child is born. I get it. I’ve been there. But it’s important not to compare yourself to other moms or what you see in Hollywood. (Singer Pink totally agrees.)

Work your way up.

I started with the “easy” Core 1 class at my local CorePower studio, which involves a lot of plank variations. I took about three classes a week, then worked on a series of planks, mild crunches, and balance exercises at home the other two or three days. Eventually, I started doing barre too, which made my core even stronger.

“First and foremost, be patient and honor your body as you return to exercise, and of course, only do so with the recommendation of your doctor,” says Kathleen Sand, who has a Ph.D. in biomechanics and is the senior director of operations for CorePower Yoga’s western studios.

No time for a studio? Sand suggests these exercises to strengthen your core at home.

Plank Pose: Plant palms firmly in the mat (think “jazz hands” on the ground), stack shoulders vertically over wrists, with full extension of the elbow joint (while being mindful to avoid hyperextension of the elbow joint). Ground down through the balls of your feet, and reach heels back while you draw kneecaps up toward hips. Draw belly-button in and up. Gaze down toward the mat between palms to lengthen neck. (You can also try these plank variations when you’re ready.)

Half Moon: From a standing pose, extend arms overhead, connect palms and interlace thumbs. Inhale to reach up, exhale, and then bend to the right. Anchor down through both feet, maintain hips and chest square to the front and lengthen left side as you bend spine to the right. Maintain strength in both arms as you reach to the top-right corner of the room and hold for 3 to 5 breaths on each side.

High Halfway Lift: With a soft bend in knees, align spine parallel to the floor. Place fingertips or palms on the front of the thighs. Engage anterior core muscles by pulling belly in and up and lengthening the space between the hip joint and armpits. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths before folding over or reaching fingers to the ceiling.

  • By By Linnea Covington

15 Ways to Get Rid of Belly Fat After C-Section Delivery

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

The 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?

Your 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

No 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

With 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

Not 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

Aside 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.

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.

Exercise after a C-Section

Is a bikini cut c-section really unnoticeable? How is a c-section performed?

Many women spend most of their pregnancies assuming that they will be giving birth vaginally. But sometimes, surgery is necessary to give you and your baby the procedure that is the most efficient and safe for your situation. You might deliberately choose a C-section, or be surprised by the need for one.

About 1/3 of the pregnancies in the United States are delivered by c-section (cesarean section).

A C-section is a surgical procedure, but unlike what most women think, your doctor will not be cutting through muscle with the exception of the uterus. When a C-section is performed the fascia is cut horizontally, this is a layer of soft, flexible connective tissue that acts as a sheath over these muscles. Then the abdominal rectus muscles are separated from one another and moved to the side. These muscles are very rarely cut, and if they are they are usually put back together.

According to Dr. Kent Snowden, within six weeks, the fascia usually claims back 90% of its original strength; within a year, it recovers fully. Sometimes stitches are used to reattach the muscles to the fascia, after the baby is out. A transverse (horizontal) cut—the so-called Bikini Cut C-Section—actually causes fewer complications. Since it is below your bikini line it will be far less noticeable than a longitudinal (vertical) incision.

If you want to get a full picture of this 40-50 minute procedure you can read it here. It’s a play by play of a c-section procedure, without getting too scientific, while still providing the steps involved in a c-section.

Following a c-section, you will find certain movements can bother your incision site, so back off until you are ready. And only do things you are completely comfortable doing. You can add a support to your abdominal area with a pillow for more comfort.

You should be able to exercise around the 6 week postpartum appointment when your doctor releases you at your postpartum check up. You will just need to start out a little slower than if you had a vaginal delivery.

To find our more about exercise after C-Sections, read C-Section Recovery

And you will enjoy the Truth about C-Sections…everything from your husband coming into the operating room through 5 days post-op.

When can I exercise after a caesarean?

A caesarean is a major operation, so don’t push yourself too soon. The first six weeks after the operation is a time for healing.
However, you can safely start doing your pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel up to it after your baby’s birth. Pregnancy puts a strain on your pelvic floor, so strengthening it is important.
Every time you pick up your baby, practise tightening your pelvic floor muscles and try to correct your posture.
You may have got into the habit of stooping, particularly if the stitches in your scar feel sore. It’s natural to feel vulnerable about your belly after such a major operation, but stooping can lead to back pain, and can make your tummy stick out.
Practise standing up properly as much and as often as possible. This will also strengthen your stomach muscles and protect your back. Don’t lift anything heavy for at least the first two months.
Once you feel comfortable with pelvic floor exercises, you can begin to work on your tummy.
You’re safe to do gentle toning exercises in the first six weeks. Pelvic tilts, bridges and leg slides are all suitable. If you don’t know how to do these, watch our exercise videos, which show you how to do them.
Gentle exercises won’t put too much pressure on your stitches, or damage your scar, even if you feel them twinge a little. However, stop exercising if you feel pain, and ask your health visitor or GP to check your wound.

Don’t do exercises that make your tummy dome out, such as sit-ups, planks and straight-leg raises. These put a strain on the muscles that were stretched by your growing bump during pregnancy. The stretching may have left a gap in your abdominal muscles, called diastasis recti, which will bulge out if you put pressure on it.
You may have a bit of an overhang on your belly, where the skin around and below your scar is tighter than the skin above it.
Slowly losing weight, doing your pelvic floor exercises, and gentle tummy exercises can help to reduce this. This may take months, so keep going, even if you don’t notice any difference at first.
The tissues around your scar will benefit from being gently flexed. Standing up straight, and keeping up your gentle tummy exercises, will help your scar to knit together more strongly.
Once your wound has healed, you can massage the scar tissue. This will help with sensitivity, and make it more comfortable for you to move around.
During the first six weeks after having your baby, you can gradually increase activity at a pace that suits you. You could start with a five-minute walk, and gradually extend this time when you feel able. Ask your midwife or health visitor if you’re unsure about what’s best to do.
Exercise that works your heart and lungs (aerobic) will also help you return to fitness and build strength. Ease yourself back into this type of exercise after your postnatal check, if your GP says it’s OK.
Brisk walking, swimming, or cycling, will help you to shed some baby weight. You may only be able to do 10 minutes of exercise to begin with, but you will gradually get stronger.
The effects of pregnancy hormones can affect your joints for up to six months after birth, so wait before doing any high-impact activities such as running, aerobics classes, and similar. Pregnancy lasts nine months, so allow yourself at least the same length of time to get back to normal.
After four months to six months, you should be able to begin exercises that strengthen your core abdominal muscles. These could include exercises such as body squats, adopting the superman pose, or kneeling on all fours and drawing up your stomach muscles against gravity.
Start slowly and gradually increase how hard you work and how long you exercise for. Always listen to your body. Your scar and your stomach muscles react best to consistent, regular exercise – not training to exhaustion.
You could join a postnatal exercise group, or do a gentle, low-impact class once you have fully recovered. It’s too soon for a general exercise class if you are still:

  • struggling with walking
  • finding it hard to do pelvic floor or lower tummy muscle exercises
  • have pain 12 weeks after giving birth

It’s crucial that you tell your instructor that you’ve had a caesarean. The Guild of Pregnancy and Postnatal Instructors has a list of specially trained teachers, or ask your health visitor about classes near you.
If you had any complications after your caesarean, such as an infection, talk to your GP, and wait until you feel better before you exercise again.
Watch our video to discover the healthiest way to lose weight. Last reviewed: August 2017

Returning to Exercise After C-Section Recovery (for Trainers)


I‘ll be honest. Talking about C-sections gets me angry. Not because of the C-section itself, very appreciative for them, but because of the atrocious lack of post-surgery education and resources for women.

If you’re lucky, your client might be told not to lift anything, drive, or exercise for 6 weeks after their c-section delivery. They had major abdominal and pelvic surgery. That’s it? That’s all the information they get?

No what-to-do’s, no physiotherapy, no follow-ups, no guidelines for recovery, no specific post c-section exercise protocol. Just “good luck, and go home.”

C-section rates are on the rise, and likely, many of your clients likely have had or will have one. I want you to be confident in your ability to facilitate their recovery and help them return to exercise safely and strongly.

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What is a C-Section?

C-section is short for Caesarean section. These deliveries can be planned or un-planned. During the C-section, the doctor makes an incision into the skin, through the fat cells and connective tissue, and into the abdominal cavity.

The abdominal muscles are then spread apart, and the bladder is moved down and out of the way in order to reach the uterus. An incision is made into the uterus, and the baby is guided out. The placenta is taken out shortly after.

The uterus is then stitched up, the bladder put back in place, and the connective tissue, abdominals, and skin stitched up, to varying degrees. There are a lot of layers of sutures, and thus, scar tissue will form.

Cleared for Post C-Section and Healed in 6 Weeks?

Not so fast. As you can tell from this description, a C-section is not the gentlest of procedures on the body and organs, so adequate rest and recovery are essential. Your client will need to be patient with the process and not push through it. You cannot out-train the healing process. Encourage clients to heal well now, and save themselves issues down the road in the short and long term.

Think of a C-section as you would a surgery, such as an ACL repair in the knee. Rehabilitation for it is a 9 to 12 month process. There are steps and checks along the way with the surgeon and physiotherapist and a set timeline of when it is safe to return to certain activities. In my opinion, this is how C-sections should be treated.

Although the doctor might clear your client for post c-section exercise 6 weeks after surgery, be certain that this means light, gentle exercise. Exercises beneficial at this time include breathing, walking, core restoration, and bodyweight exercises. Exercises not beneficial at this time are, for example, running, jumping, heavy weight training, crunches, leg raises, and other traditional ab exercises. We’ll chat about the specifics of the return to exercise in a bit.

The healing process is not done at 6 weeks. Not even close. From the outside, your client’s scar might appear healed, but the deeper layers inside the body still need time. The scar alone might not be that deep, but the deeper layers are still recovering.

“I Didn’t Have a Vaginal Birth, So My Pelvic Floor Is Fine.”

Although a vaginal birth increases the post-birth risk of pelvic floor dysfunction, your client who had a C-section still went through a pregnancy, which itself heightens risk of pelvic floor dysfunction. We still must reprogram the core, which is intimately integrated with the pelvic floor.

Here are some reasons why we still need to focus on the health of the pelvic floor after a C-section:

  • The downward pressure of the baby can stretch the pelvic floor muscles and their connective tissues, leaving them more lax than normal.
  • The expanding uterus puts pressure on other pelvic organs, including the bladder and rectum, and can disrupt their normal function.
  • C-section scars can play tricks with pelvic nerve function, leading to such side-effects as urethral burning, the feeling of needing to pee all the time, and pain in the clitoris and labia.
  • The alignment changes that happen during pregnancy and postpartum””for example, standing with the bum tucked under””can affect the tone of your pelvic floor muscles, leaving them tight and short.

Recovery in the Early Weeks After C-Section

In the early days and weeks after a C-section, you should encourage your client to focus on resting and relaxing with the new baby as much as possible. These are the main things your client should be doing in the first 6 weeks postpartum:

1). Ask for help. Clients likely will want to do everything themselves and need to be reined in. Communicate to your clients how important it is to allow help and take up offers from friends and family. If possible, your client should have people bring the baby to her at feeding time to avoid twisting, bending, and crunching. Her job as a mama is to love, feed, and cuddle her baby and to get sleep herself.

2). Roll over. Hopefully, your client has been doing this throughout pregnancy and is in the rolling routine. Every time your client goes to lie down or to move from her back to a seated position, she lies on her side first. This avoids big crunching and sit-up type movements that put a ton of pressure on the abdominals and scar region.

An example of this exercise is getting in and out of bed. Getting into bed, she sits down, carefully lies on her side, and then slowly rolls onto her back, keeping the head relaxed and down throughout the roll. Getting out of bed, she rolls to her side, keeping the head relaxed and down, then slowly lowers the legs off the bed, and uses upper body strength to push up to a seated position. If possible, have her get someone to help with this whole process.

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3). Restorative breathing. Core restoration can start within the first few days postpartum. Encouraging the client to pay attention to their breath, we want to start reprogramming the core to function from the diaphragm down through the trunk to the pelvic floor muscles. Have your clients practice core breathing from a supine position in the early days and, when comfortable, in a seated position.

In the initial days and weeks post-surgery, have clients use a gentle amount of contraction. On the inhale breath, they’ll want to feel the ribcage, belly, and pelvic floor gently expand and relax. On the exhale breath, they should purse their lips (like blowing through a straw) and gently exhale to encourage activation through the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. Have the client practice their core breathing before doing any exertion, say getting out of bed or picking up the baby. Start the exhale breath, get deep tension and support through the pelvic floor, and then begin the movement or lift.

4). Walking. In the first few days, your clients will want to stay off their feet as much as possible. As they begin to heal, slowly increase the amount of walking they do around the house. Monitor their energy levels that day and the next, and if they’re feeling good, let them slowly increase their movement. Start with short, leisurely outdoor walks, and gradually increase their length. Use this as a time to breathe, relax, and move.

5). See a pelvic floor physical therapist. Within the first 6 weeks (or earlier) after the baby arrives, your clients should see a therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor, even if they have no discomfort and the doctor has given them clearance for exercise after a c-section. The therapist can ensure everything is healing well and that there’s no prolapse and start some extremely important scar mobilization work. Scar mobilization is not often talked about, but it can change the course of healing and deeply impact how the core functions long term.

Depending on the healing process, you may begin core restoration exercises with your client, in addition to the core breathing, before the 6-week check-up:

There really is no magical date for when you should begin adding more activity, as everyone heals at their own pace. Some of my clients have begun adding in exercises within the first few weeks postpartum. Beneficial core restoration exercises include:

1. Glute Bridges

2. Clamshells

3. Heel Slides

The core breathing can be integrated into each of these exercises. You’ll want the client to exhale on the toughest part of the exercise, just before moving. For example, in the glute bridge, the client will start exhaling before lifting the pelvis and then inhale to return down.

Return to Strength Training After a C-Section Birth

In the return to more traditional strength training (after your client’s 6-week clearance and check-in with the pelvic floor physical therapist), you’ll want to allow your client’s body plenty of time to adapt to the increased movement and a good deal of recovery time between exercise sessions. If clients have any bleeding or pain (scar, pelvic, back) at all during or after exercise, decrease the intensity.

Try starting with 2 workout sessions per week with 15-20 minutes of work (not including your restoration activities). If all goes well, gradually increase the workout duration by 5 minutes biweekly. You can slowly build up to an amount that works for the clients’ lifestyle and needs.

When returning to strength training, you’ll want to be conservative in loading of exercises. In terms of resistance, prioritize bodyweight, resistance bands, suspension trainers, and light weights. Examples of beneficial exercises include:

  • Side plank
  • Squats
  • Split squats
  • Band pull-aparts
  • TRX inverted row

Band Pull-Aparts

Again, integrate breathing into each of these exercises. Clients should exhale during the toughest part of the exercise, just before the movement. For example, in the squat, clients should inhale as they squat down and then exhale to stand back up.

You’ll notice that, in each of these exercises, you keep the body in neutral alignment. This means that the spine is kept in a long, straight line. We want a small arch in the lower back and a tall upper back, growing up into the crown of the head, just as in our other postnatal clients.

On the exercises to avoid list, you’ll find:

  • Crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, and front planks
  • Running, jumping, step-ups
  • Heavy overhead presses
  • Heavily weighted exercises
  • Anything that places direct downward pressure on the pelvic floor, such as a barbell back squat

Returning to exercise after C-section recovery is very similar to the return to postnatal exercise after a vaginal birth. Pay extra attention to how the body feels during exercise and its recovery after exercise sessions. Above all, program in ways that make your client feel safe, stable, and energized during and after exercise.


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The Author

Jessie Mundell is a personal trainer in Calgary, Alberta and also runs an trains clients online. Her specialities lie in prenatal and postnatal exercise and female training. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter ,or read more of her work on her website.

How to Safely Strengthen Your Core After a C-Section

“While many moms get cleared by their doctor for exercise after six weeks, in my own body, I found that I needed eight weeks to get back into an actual workout—and I do this for a living!” says Amy Jordan, CEO of WundaBar Pilates and a mother of two. “Because the abdominal muscles are cut, the healing and scar tissue can cause numbness and general loss of feeling in your lower abdomen. But, stay the course. In about a year, it’s back to a relatively normal state of being, except on the scar line.”

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Are there any core exercises that I should avoid completely?

“Avoid sit-ups, twisting movements, and push-ups on flat ground in the first six weeks after starting to work out again,” says Cunningham. “You have to wait until your core is healed. I never advise crunches or planks until I can see no clear sign of diastasis recti or any pressure on the abdomen when doing core work. This can be anywhere from eight to 12 weeks after being cleared to work out from your doctor. Everything except twisting movements can be done elevated, and then progress to the ground as your core strengthens. But in the beginning, it’s advised not to so that nothing is damaged long term.”

Other core exercises to avoid during the first six months of your postpartum recovery:

  • Twisting or crunching movements that put strain on abdominal tissues
  • Lifting heavy objects, such as overhead presses
  • Leg raises
  • Jumping
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups, especially from a supine position

Instead, says Moncourtois, let your body get its strength back and completely heal first. It’s understandably tempting to want to strengthen your core after a C-section and “get your abs back,” notes Jordan. However, he adds that curling the front of your body only encourages further separation of the abs and won’t help you fully recover.

“You need to build your core stability and control up before progressing to more challenging exercises,” says Hirst. “Strength needs to be developed from the inside out.”

Rebuild your core stability with these Aaptiv fitness routines.

What are some safe core exercises that I can do after a C-section?

“Start with static activation of the transverse abdominus, the deepest tummy muscle,” says Jordan. “The best way to practice this is to lay on your back with your knees bent, spine in a neutral position, and draw the area between your tummy button and pubic bone towards your spine without moving your back. Then, challenge your core stability with control-based exercises, such as a hip twist. In the same position as described above, keep your pelvis level and slowly drop one knee away from the other and back. Repeat on both sides. This will start to activate other areas of the abdominals without putting too much pressure on the scar.”

Cunningham recommends two specific core exercises, called “dead bugs” and alternate toe taps. For the first one, lay on your back and bend your knees over your hips. Shoulders stay off the ground with hands pressing into your thighs and arms locked out. Hold and plant your lower back into the ground, then breathe deeply to engage your deep inner core muscles. With the second one, lay on your back with knees bent and stacked over hips. Alternate taking one toe to the ground while focusing on keeping your back flat and pulling in from the lower part of your core to bring your leg back up.

Additional suggestions from Moncourtois, Arndt, and Jordan include:

  • Modified side planks or planks from knees
  • Inverted rows
  • Bodyweight squats and/or lunges
  • Resistance band movements
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Bridges

“Bridges are a great way to get started. Even though it looks like a leg exercise, the length on all sides of your waistline during the lift and lower engages your deep abdominals and encourages the abs to knit back up,” says Jordan.

Positional Breathing Exercises

Cooper also suggests positional breathing exercises to practice regaining proper movement of your diaphragm. Aaptiv trainer Jaime McFaden echoes this as a great exercise to rehab your core and strengthen your abdominal wall. McFaden explains how to do it: Start on your back and relax your body on the floor. Take a big breath in through the nose and expand all sides of the body. Hold the breath for three seconds, and then slowly release as you draw your belly towards the floor and contract your abdominal muscles. Perform this exercise for one to two minutes daily to strengthen your deep core muscles.

Two more ways to strengthen your core after a C-section: Wall sits and heel slides. These are both ideal body toning exercises that can be done every day.

Wall Sits

“Stand one to two feet away from the wall. Bend your knees and press back against the wall to come to a position as if you are sitting in a chair. Knees are at a 90-degree angle. Inhale, and as you exhale, draw your tummy towards the wall. Repeat this for 30-60 seconds,” says McFaden.

Heel Slides

“Lay on your back and bend your knees, pressing your feet into the floor (using socks or a towel under feet will help to slide your heels). Inhale and slightly elevate your hips off the ground (to modify, keep your hips on the ground). Exhale and push one heel away from your body. Inhale and slowly drag your heel back to starting position. Do ten on each side. Focus on your breath and pulling your belly button towards your spine without changing the shape of your spine as you breathe.”

What is the most important thing for postpartum moms to keep in mind about core strength?

Let your body completely heal, and then prioritize rebuilding your pelvic floor with low-impact exercises, says Moncourtois. And, be patient, because if you want your core to heal correctly, it is going to take time. Even though a slow approach may not be what you’re looking for, says Cooper, it’s the approach that you’ll need for long-term health.

“Jumping into workouts like you did before pregnancy or HIIT-style stuff will only make things worse because you could potentially make a diastasis worse if you have it or impair your pelvis,” says Cunningham.

Similar to pregnancy, listen to your body, encourages McFaden. “Remember, it takes almost a year to grow your baby, so give your body time to recover. Even if your scar has healed on top of your skin, you still have lots healing under the skin. So be kind to yourself and don’t rush into any exercise routine too fast. Show your body love and embrace the changes that your body has gone through to have your precious baby.”

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Losing Baby Weight: How to Tone Your Tummy after a C-section

If you are reading this article, chances are you’ve had a cesarean section, also known as a C-section. You are one of the 30% of women in America who have C-sections, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control.

As you might already know, C-sections are very hard on your body. They take a pretty large toll on your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Your body loses a lot of blood during this process as well.

Sick Of The Excess Weight?

If you’ve endured a c-section, you gave birth to a miracle. While it’s totally understandable that you want to go back to your pre-pregnancy body right away, it’s important to realize that your body had to change and transform in order for you to give birth to your precious baby. Before being hard on yourself and potentially disgusted with the weight you’ve gained, take a moment to remember that it all happened for a reason.

The women who lose weight the easiest after having a c-section realize that the weight gain was entirely necessary in order for them to have a healthy baby, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Losing the weight after giving birth is just part of the process, and it’s completely natural.

Every time you catch yourself criticizing yourself and being hard on your body, remember that the outcome of this was your child. After all, you’d rather be a mother and have your child (along with a few extra pounds on your belly) compared to having a flat stomach and not having a child at all, right?

Patience Is Key

When it comes to losing baby weight, patience is key. It takes time for your body to recover after giving birth, especially your belly.

Here’s a good way to look at it – imagine that your abdomen is a balloon. The balloon slowly inflates, and the more your baby grows. Once you give birth, it doesn’t just pop the balloon. It simply creates a small hole for the air to leak through. Even though the leak is slow, it’s still steady. All the air will come out of the balloon eventually, it will just take a bit of time.

Give Your Body Time

As soon as you give birth, the hormones in your body start to change. Your uterus contracts and slowly begins to go back to how it was before pregnancy. It can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks for your uterus to go back to its normal size.

During pregnancy, all of the cells in your body swelled up to retain fluid. After giving birth, they start to release that extra fluid. This extra fluid gets released through sweating, through your urine, and through vaginal secretions. The reason why your body put on extra fat during pregnancy is to nourish your baby. After the baby is no longer inside your body, your body will work to naturally get rid of that extra fat, but it might take a few weeks before you see results.

Think of it this way – it took a full nine months for your stomach to stretch enough to accommodate your baby’s growth. Therefore, it makes sense that it would take around that same amount of time to fully tighten back up to pre-pregnancy size. Even though it seems like an extremely long time, if you focus on your baby and keep yourself busy, the months will go by before you know it.

It doesn’t necessarily take 9 months for everyone’s tummy to slim down – this amount of time will depend on your normal body size, the amount of weight that you gained during your pregnancy, your activity level, and also your genes. If you only gained 30 pounds during pregnancy, you are likely to lose the weight much quicker than someone who gained 60 pounds during pregnancy.

Despite the fact that everything takes time, there are certain things you can do to speed up the process of tightening and toning your abdomen. Here are some tips on how to lose weight after pregnancy.

Before You Start

If you are determined to tone your stomach after a c-section, it’s absolutely vital that you talk to your doctor beforehand. Every woman has a different body, and all bodies take a different amount of time to heal. Some women might just need a few short weeks to recover from a c-section, while others will need a few months. Generally speaking, it’s best to wait at least 6-8 weeks before you start to exercise or diet.

As eager as you might be to lose the weight right away, this will only cause complications. It can have a negative effect on your recovery. Talking to your doctor will give you a better idea of how long you personally need to wait before you can begin to make any lifestyle changes.

The Importance of Breastfeeding

If you breastfeed your baby, you will automatically lose weight faster than mothers who don’t do this. When you breastfeed, your body has to burn calories to do so. It takes up a lot of energy, and your body has to work hard in order to produce the milk. On average, breastfeeding mothers burn anywhere from 250-500 calories a day, just from nursing! This number can be higher depending on the mother’s weight and how often they breastfeed.

In addition to burning calories, breastfeeding also triggers contractions in your body that aids with shrinking the uterus. This makes breastfeeding a workout for the entire body.

Breastfeeding isn’t just great for losing weight and burning calories – it’s also a beautiful moment that is shared between you and your child. You are nurturing them and forming a bond with them that no one else will be able to do. It’s truly a magical experience.

RELATED POST: How to Increase Breastmilk Supply & Know If You’re Making Enough Milk

Avoid Processed Food & Eat Healthier

While it’s recommended to wait at least 6-8 weeks before you start exercising and dieting, that doesn’t mean that you can’t change your diet now! It is never too late, or too early, to change your diet and start eating healthier.
Eating healthier does not mean going on a diet. It simply means cutting out the junk food and replacing it with healthier options, such as whole foods. Avoiding all processed foods (chips, baked goods, fried foods, etc) will have a major effect on your weight loss. Processed foods are higher in calories so it’s much easier to eat more of without even realizing.
If you switch to whole foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, etc), these foods are naturally lower in calories. This means that you can actually eat a larger volume of them, while still losing weight.

Eating healthier won’t just benefit your body – it also benefits your child. The more nutrients you consume through your diet, the more nutrients your baby will receive through your breastmilk. If you constantly consume junk food full of artificial flavors, colorings, and chemicals, it only makes sense that your body will be ingesting those chemicals as well. The healthier you eat, the healthier your child will be.

Everyone benefits from choosing whole foods. The people who are successful at sticking to a healthy diet with ease are the ones who look at it as a way to nurture themselves and their families. It’s a form of self-care. If you eat food that provides your body with all the nutrients that it needs, you will be able to perform your best, look your best, and be the overall best version of yourself.

Walking to Lose Weight

Walking is one of the best exercises that you can do after a C-section. It is a very light and easy exercise, yet it still gets your heart rate up and your blood circulating. Walking is an amazing activity because you can do it with your friends and your family. It’s easy to talk when you walk, compared to running, where it can be a struggle to keep a conversation going.

Walking can improve your mood, and it’s always good to fill your lungs with fresh air. If you don’t want to walk with friends or family, you can always walk alone, or push your baby in a stroller. This will help your body to burn even more calories because of the weight of the stroller, without it being too hard on your body.

Start With Gentle Exercises

Whenever it is time to safely exercise, it’s best to start with gentle exercises. Slow and steady always wins the race in terms of postpartum fitness. In addition to walking, stretching is a great easy exercise. Stretching is beneficial because it can break up any scar tissue that contributes to a belly pouch.

Here are three popular and easy gentle exercises that you can do:

Plow pose – Lie on the floor with your back down. Slowly and carefully reach your arms and legs above your head.

Sphinx pose – Lay on your stomach, and then try to lift your chest and head just a few inches from the floor.

Bridge pose – Laying on your back, bend your knees down and press through your heels. This will lift your lower body and back off the ground. Try to hold the pose for a couple seconds.

Each of the above moves works to stretch your stomach while strengthening your pelvic floor. They aren’t aggressive, however, if you notice any pain, it’s important to stop immediately.


To conclude, the weight will come off, you just need to be patient. Once you accept the weight gain and understand why it happened, it becomes easier to deal with and easier to get your pre baby body back.

Even though you can’t start exercising right away, you can change your diet to eat healthier foods at any point. Nourishing your body will also nourish your baby. Breastfeeding is another thing that you do right away that aids in weight loss. It’s a workout that will soon become second nature.

Be patient, enjoy your first few months with your baby, and before you know it, you’ll have your pre-pregnancy belly back. If you follow the above tips and recommendations, it will make the weight loss process easier as well.

Last Updated on January 4, 2020

Although motherhood is a beautiful and fulfilling phase, most new mothers are constantly anxious about the external changes that happen to their body after pregnancy and try to get back that trim and lean look. However, you need to give your body a break to heal after delivery, especially if you’ve had a caesarean. Forcing yourself to lose those extra kilos after a C-section can be harmful to your body and may cause unnecessary complications. There are plenty of effective and safe ways to reduce your tummy after a C-section delivery. We’ll discuss how below.

Also Read: Recovering After a C-section Delivery

Getting Back in Shape and Reducing Tummy Post C-Section

Having a baby through C-section is much more complicated than a normal delivery, and so, post-operative recovery is very important. Don’t push your body to heal after a C-section; it will happen gradually. Wait for the stitches to dissolve and the incision to heal before doing any cardiac or weight-lifting activity. Tummy reduction is not easy even on its own and becomes all the more difficult if you have had a C-section delivery. This is because, during your recovery period, you may not be allowed to do abdominal exercises for some time. There are a few non-strenuous ways you can employ to get a flatter tummy.

How Long Should You Wait to Start Exercising and Why?

Doctors advise moms who have had a C-section to wait for 6-8 weeks before starting exercises to reduce belly fat. Not waiting for your body to recover fully can have disastrous consequences on your health such as:

  • Heavy postpartum bleeding
  • Muscle and joint injuries
  • Opening up of surgical incisions

So, get a first-hand opinion from your doctor before you hit the gym again.

Also Read: Bleeding After Cesarean Delivery

Tips for Reducing Stomach After a Caesarean Delivery

Tummy reduction after C-section may seem daunting, but we assure you, it is easily achievable with the following home remedies:

1. Massage

The first two weeks after your C-section is when any complication associated with surgery will most likely arise. There is no problem in getting a post-pregnancy massage after those two weeks. These massages break up belly fat and also help to lose fluids from the lymph nodes, thereby reducing your waistline. However, avoid the abdominal area during the initial days, and focus only on the back, hands, and legs. Four weeks after delivery, scar tissue will start to form and your abdominal area can be massaged without pain.

2. Move Your Body

A C-section cuts through some of your stomach muscles, resulting in a pouch of fat on your tummy. This causes stress on your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. So, it is important to wait for 6-8 weeks after a C-section delivery before you attempt any heavy exercises. Walking is a low impact exercise and burns calories safely. Go for a walk with your baby at least thrice a week This will keep both you and your baby happy.

3. Eat Healthy

All new mothers need high energy when they are lactating. So, make sure your diet is rich in carbohydrates, low in fat and is loaded with sufficient vitamins and minerals. Avoid foods like sweets and items which have saturated fats like ghee, fried foods, butter and aerated drinks. Eat more fruits, vegetables and lean protein. Keep a food log and record what you eat in a day and the calories it contains. This will help you stick to your defined portion size.

4. Tummy Binding

This is a method which you can do only 2 months post your C-section delivery, when the incision has fully healed. In this, the tummy is tied up with a muslin cloth which looks like a bandage. Tummy binding is believed to push the stomach in.

5. Breastfeeding

This is one of the easiest ways to lose belly fat. Breastfeed your baby exclusively for 6 months after your C-section delivery. Not only does breastfeeding burn about 500 extra calories a day, but it also releases a hormone called oxytocin that stimulates uterine contractions, and helps your uterus get back to its pre-pregnancy size.

6. Drink Lots Of Water and Fluids

Drink plenty of water post-delivery. This will not only maintain fluid balance in your body but also burn the excess fat around your waist. Lemon water is a good home remedy to detox and reduce your weight post a C-section. You can mix lemon juice and honey in lukewarm water and drink it once a day, preferably in the morning.

7. Get Adequate Sleep

One of the ways you can achieve your sleep and tummy goals is by getting a minimum 5 hours of sleep. It’s difficult to achieve but a trick is to sleep when your baby sleeps. This will not only help you get reduce your waistline but also improve your emotional health.

Also Read: Yoga After Delivery

Yoga to Reduce Tummy Fat

You can practice yoga after C-section to reduce tummy fat. Yoga helps to tone and strengthen the stomach muscles. Yoga also helps new mothers deal with the stress of having a newborn. But make sure to start it only 6-8 weeks after your C-section delivery. It is better to consult your doctor once before starting.

If you are a beginner, take the help of a certified yoga instructor so that you don’t accidentally hurt yourself. Begin with simple breathing exercises. Some yoga poses you can try to reduce your tummy fat include:

  • Bhujanga Asana: This snake pose will help to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
  • Pranayama: Pranayama will tuck in the tummy and help to tighten your stomach muscles.
  • Suryanamaskar: Once you learn the normal asanas, you can proceed with suryanamaskar which will stretch your abdominal muscles and help to lose the flab around your tummy.

Exercises to Reduce Tummy After Caesarean

There are a number of exercises to reduce belly fat after a C-section. You can follow a routine once you recover and your doctor gives the green light to exercise. Exercise will help to reduce tummy fat by strengthening the abdominal muscles and burning the excess fat around the hips and core. You can start with mild exercises and gradually move on to complex ones with gudiance from a physical trainer. Wear a compression garment over the C-section wound to prevent the pressure hurting it. Some exercises you can try doing are:

1. Pelvic Tilts

Contract your stomach muscles and tilt your hips forward. You can do this while sitting, standing or lying down. Doing it daily will help to strengthen your abdominal muscles and speed up the healing process.

2. Planks

Hold your body in a push-up position, while bearing all your weight down on the forearms, elbows, and toes. Hold for at least 30 seconds and repeat thrice. This is a good exercise as it strengthens the abdominal muscles and also puts zero pressure on your C-section wound.

3. Kegels

Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold for five seconds and then release. Remember to not hold your breath while doing this exercise. Try it 4-5 times in a row, with a 10-seconds break in between each. This strengthens your pelvic floor muscles.

4. Bridges

Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Spread your hands, keeping your palms facing downwards. Tuck in your stomach muscles and slowly lift your buttocks off the floor, followed by your stomach and middle back. Keep your shoulders on the ground. Hold for ten seconds and gently lower your body back onto the ground. Repeat this exercise around 4-6 times to strengthen your hips and tone the stomach.

5. Lower Abdominal Slide

This exercise targets the lower abdominal muscles which are affected by the C-section surgery. Lie down with your feet flat on the ground, knees bent and arms straight at your sides; let your palms face downwards. Keep your stomach tucked in and contract your abdominal muscles to slowly slide your right leg straight out. Bring the leg back to its starting position slowly. Repeat with the opposite leg. Do this 3-5 times with the right and left leg alternately.

6. Forward Bends

Stand straight and slowly bend downwards with your arms at your side till your head is level with your knees. Hold the position for ten seconds and straighten your body again. Repeat this 4-5 times to strengthen your lower back and burn calories off your middle.

Abdominal Belt to Flatten your Stomach after a C-Section

One of the methods you can employ is wearing a tummy reducing belt after C-section. It gives the dual advantage of supporting your body and regaining firmness of your belly post-delivery. But it may also hurt the incision wound if the mother is overweight. You must remember that a C-section is a complicated delivery and any wrongly applied pressure to the wound post-delivery can interfere with the healing process. Therefore, consult a doctor before trying on any such belt. Some more benefits of wearing an abdominal belt are:

  • Movements like standing up or sitting down can be very painful while recovering from a C-section delivery. An abdominal belt will hold your tummy in and ease the pain.
  • Your back muscles tend to become soft and weak during pregnancy. An abdominal belt will support your back and strengthen it.
  • The abdominal belt will keep your stomach in place and allowthe stitches to heal quickly.

Never exert yourself or continue exercising if you feel pain in your abdomen. If you’re planning to start working out after a C-section delivery, consult your doctor first so that you don’t risk your health in the process. Follow the tips above to safely get a flat tummy in no time.

Also Read:

Exercises to do After Delivery
Best Exercises to Reduce Your Tummy After Childbirth
Kegel (Pelvic floor) Exercise after Delivery

Returning To Exercise After A C-Section

I’ll be honest. Talking about C-sections makes me kind of angry. Not at all because of the C-section itself (thanks, doc!), but because of the atrocious lack of education and resources for women post-surgery.

If you’re lucky, you might be told not to lift anything, not to drive, and not to exercise for six weeks. This is major abdominal and pelvic surgery. That’s it?! That’s all the information you get? No “what-to-do’s”, no physiotherapy, no guidelines for recovery, no specific exercise protocol. Just a, “good luck and go home.”

C-sections may be common, but they are not a “small procedure.”

C-section rates are on the rise, and if you birth your babe(s) via C-section I want you to be confident in your recovery and in your ability to return to exercise safely and strongly.

What is a C-Section?

C-section is short for Caesarean Section. Section deliveries can be planned or un-planned. During the C-section, the doc makes an incision into your skin, through the fat cells, connective tissue, and into the abdominal cavity.

The abdominal muscles are then spread apart and the bladder is moved down and out of the way in order to get to the uterus. There is an incision made into the uterus and the baby is guided out. The placenta is taken out shortly after.

The uterus is then stitched up, the bladder put back in place, then connective tissue, the abdominals, and the skin stitched up, to varying degrees. We have a lot of layers of sutures and thus, scar tissue that will form.

Cleared for Exercise and Healed in six Weeks?

Not so fast, ladies. As you can tell by the description above, a C-section is not the gentlest of procedures on your body and organs, making adequate rest and recovery essential. You’re going to need to be patient with the process and not “push through”. There is no rush. Heal well now and save yourself issues down the road in the short and long term.

Think of a C-section as you would a surgery such as an ACL repair in the knee. The rehabilitation for this is a nine to 12 month process. There are steps and checks along the way with the surgeon, the physiotherapist, and a set timeline of when it is safe to return to certain activities. In my opinion, this should be how C-sections are treated as well.

Although your doctor may “clear you for exercise” at six-weeks post, be certain that this means light and gentle exercise. The types of exercise that will be beneficial at this time are, for example, breathing, walking, core restoration, and bodyweight exercises. The types of exercise that will not be beneficial at this time are, for example, running, jumping, heavy weight training, crunches, leg raises, and other traditional “ab” exercises.

We’ll chat about the specifics of the return to exercise below.

Keep in mind, the healing process is not done at six weeks. From the outside, your scar might appear healed, but the deeper layers inside still need time. Just the scar alone is many, many layers deep – the tissues that you can’t see are still recovering. Just because my client’s scar (pictured above) appears healed from the outside, doesn’t necessarily mean the tissue on the inside is healed.

“I Didn’t Have a Vaginal Birth, So My Pelvic Floor Is Fine.”

Although a vaginal birth can increase the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction post-birth, you still went through a pregnancy, regardless of the C-section delivery. Pregnancy in itself heightens your risk of pelvic floor dysfunction. We still must reprogram the core, which involves integration with the pelvic floor.

Here are some of the reasons why we still need to focus on the health of the pelvic floor after having a C-section:

  • The downward pressure of your babe on your pelvic floor muscles can stretch these muscles and their connective tissues, leaving them more lax than normal.
  • Your expanding uterus puts pressure against your other pelvic organs, including the bladder and rectum, and can disrupt their normal function.
  • C-section scars can be tricky for pelvic nerve function, leading to such things as urethral burning, feeling like you need to pee all the time, and pain in the clitoris and labia.
  • The alignment changes that happen during pregnancy and postpartum (for example standing with your bum tucked under) can affect the tone of your pelvic floor muscles, leaving them tight and short.

Recovery in The Early Weeks After C-Section

In the early days and weeks following your C-section you’re going to be focused on resting and relaxing as much as possible with your new baby. These are the main things you will want to do in the first 6 weeks postpartum:

1. Ask for help.

You’re going to want to do things yourself, but try to reign yourself in. Allow yourself to receive help and offers from your friends and family – they really want to! Your job as mama is to love, feed, cuddle, and sleep. If possible, even get people to bring your baby to you at feeding time.

2. Rolling over.

Every time you go to lie down or to move from your back to a seated position, you’re going to lie to your side first. This is so we can avoid big crunching and sit-up type movements that put a ton of pressure on the abdominals and scar. An example of this is getting into and out of bed. Get into the habit of lying on your side and then slowly rolling to your back when getting into bed. Getting out of bed, roll to your side, lower the legs off the bed, then use your upper body strength to push yourself up to seated. If you can, get someone to help you with this, as well.

3. Restorative breathing.

Core restoration can start within the first few days postpartum. You are going to start reprogramming your core to function from your diaphragm down to your pelvic floor muscles, with the Connection Breath.

On your inhale breath, feel your ribcage and your belly gently expand and relax. On your exhale breath, gently exhale to encourage gentle activation through your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles. Before you do any exertion, say getting out of bed or picking up the baby, practice your Connection Breath. Start your exhale breath and then begin your movement or lift.

4. Walking.

In the first few days, you’ll want to stay off your feet as much as possible. As you begin to heal, slowly increase the amount of walking you’re doing around the house. Monitor your energy levels that day and the next, and if you’re feeling good, you can keep slowly increasing your movement. Start with short outdoor leisurely walking and gradually increase your time. Use this as a time to breathe, relax, and move.

5. See a Women’s Health Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist.

Within the first six weeks (or earlier) after baby arrives you should see a women’s health physio, even if you’re not having any discomfort, and assuming that your doc has given you clearance. They can make sure you’re healing well, your pelvic floor is functioning on point, and start doing some really important scar mobilization.

Depending on your healing process, you may begin core restoration exercises, in addition to the Connection Breath, prior to your 6-week check up. There really is no magic date of when you should begin adding in more activity, as everyone heals at their own pace. Some of my clients have begun adding in the exercises below within the first few weeks postpartum.

Examples of beneficial core restoration exercises are:

  • Glute Bridges
  • Clamshells
  • Side Lying Knee Abduction

The Connection Breath can be integrated into each of these exercises. You’ll want to exhale on the toughest part of the exercise, just before you move. As an example, in the glute bridge, you’ll start your exhale breath to lift up and inhale as you return down.

Returning to Strength Training After C-Section

In your return to more traditional strength training (after your six-week clearance and a check-in with the pelvic floor physio) you’ll want to allow your body plenty of time to adapt to the increase in movement and a good deal of recovery time between bouts of exercise. If you have any bleeding or pain (scar, pelvic, back) at all during or after exercise, keep your intensity more mild.

Try starting with two workout sessions per week of 15 minutes duration, and if you’d like, slowly increase from there. Increase your workout duration by five minutes biweekly. Just for reference, most of the women I work with will keep their workouts between 30 to 40 minutes in length and aim for three to four sessions per week. You can slowly build up to this amount if that works for your lifestyle and needs.

In your return to strength training you’ll want to use your bodyweight as resistance, resistance bands, suspension trainers, and light weights. Examples of beneficial exercises are:

  • Modified side planks
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Bodyweight split squats (keeping the depth small to begin)
  • Band pull-aparts (pictured)
  • Inverted row

Again, the Connection Breath can be integrated into each of these exercises. You’ll want to exhale on the toughest part of the exercise, just before you move. For example, in your squat, inhale as you squat down and then exhale to stand back up.

You’ll notice that in each of the exercises above, you’re keeping your body in “neutral alignment”. This means that your spine is kept in a long, straight line. We want to have a small arch in the lower back and a tall upper back, growing “up” out of the crown of the head. I always cue to have the, “ribs over the hips”, as you want your ribcage stacked right over your pelvis.

On the “exercises to avoid list” you’ll find:

  • Crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, and front planks
  • Running, jumping, step ups
  • Heavy overhead presses
  • Heavily weighted exercises
  • Anything with direct downward pressure on the pelvic floor, such as a barbell back squat.

The return to exercise post C-section is very much similar to the return to postnatal exercise after a vaginal birth. Really pay attention to how your body feels during and especially after exercise. Above all, move in ways that make you feel safe, amazing, and energized during and after exercise.

C-Section Recovery: Restorative Sequences for New Moms

Phase 1: Week 1, Day 1

Phase 1: Supine Exercise and Walking Focus
This two-week phase focuses on reconnecting with the transverse abdominal muscles with simple supine exercises you can do in bed. You will also work up to twenty minutes of walking each day. In meditation the focus is processing your birth experience and addressing any fears or anxiety you might have about your birth experience and life with a newborn.

A. Supine Exercises

  • Belly Breathing x 10 breaths: Breathe deeply and focus on expanding through the diaphragm. When you exhale, draw your navel in toward your spine.
  • Leg Slides x 5 per side – Lie in bed with your knees bent. Slowly slide one leg out until it is fully extended, then draw it back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
  • Pelvic Tilt x 10 – With your knees bent, raise your pelvis off the bed and lower right away. Repeat.

B. Walking

Walk for 3 minutes, then rest for 2 minutes. Walk for 3 more minutes. Repeat at least once more later in the day.

C. Meditation
As a mom, doula, and pre/postnatal trainer I’ve found that processing your birth experience goes a long way in gaining peace and acceptance after having a baby. Women who have had c-sections sometimes feel regret or a lack of involvement in their birth, and meditation can help heal those feelings.

For this meditation find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and count ten slow breaths, in and out. Quiet your mind and prepare to ask yourself these questions:

  • What emotions do I feel when I think about my child’s birth
  • Do I feel any guilt or regret about any aspects of the birth?
  • Have I accepted these aspects?

From here, complete the Shifting Perspectives Meditation.

Week 1, Day 2

A. Supine Exercises

  • Belly Breathing x 12 breaths: Breathe deeply and focus on expanding through the diaphragm. When you exhale, draw your navel in toward your spine.
  • Leg Slides x 8 per side: Lie in bed with your knees bent. Slowly slide one leg out until it is fully extended, then draw it back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
  • Pelvic Tilt x 12: With your knees bent, raise your pelvis off the bed and lower. Repeat.
  • Rolling Over x 3 per side: You want to avoid the jackknife movement after a c-section to get out of bed. Instead, practice rolling from side to side. Lie on your back and place a pillow over your incision site. Slowly shift your weight to the right and stack your legs on top of each other. Push your upper body up with your lower elbow, then relax. Rest here for a minute, then repeat on the left side.

B. Walking

Walk for 3 minutes, then rest for 2 minutes. Walk for 3 more minutes. Repeat at least once more later in the day.

C. Meditation
Repeat the meditation from Day 1, but focus this time on any anxieties you have about raising a baby and transitioning into motherhood. Maybe you feel anxious about going to work, lack of sleep, or regaining your strength. Whatever it is, focus on accepting the challenge and working through it during your meditation practice.

Getting Back into Fitness After a C Section


Exciting news, you guys: this weekend marked my official return to organized fitness classes! Hello again, yoga – I missed you! In today’s blog post, I’m talking all about postnatal fitness – specifically how I’m getting back into fitness after my C section, and what I’ve been doing for exercise since Riese was born 6 weeks ago! Just an FYI this post contains some affiliate links.

It was definitely complicated logistically to get out for a class (the class wasn’t until 9 a.m. but it still involved waking up super early and pumping first because the timing didn’t work out right to feed Riese right before I left), but man was it nice to go to a class vs. doing fitness stuff solo in my basement. 🙂 Plus, I missed my workout buddies Chelsea and Kathleen – yay for the 3 workout musketeers being reunited.

I actually went to a yoga class on Friday, too – two classes in one weekend, wow! I don’t think that will happen again anytime soon, but it was pretty lovely. Things that are awesome and also things that are weird about yoga now following my C section vs. yoga while I was pregnant:

  • I can be on my back again, yay!
  • I can twist again! Although I’m being mindful to not twist too far.
  • Child’s pose is comfortable again without a huge belly in the way. 🙂
  • Lying on my stomach feels fine… lying on my breasts does not. Ouch!
  • Pigeon pose doesn’t feel good right now – it’s too intense of a stretch on my C section incision area, plus I’m SO tight it’s just a bit much. I’ve been doing a variation instead (#3 in this blog post).

I’m avoiding planks (I do tabletop instead) and any more advanced ab work right now as well per advice I’ve gotten that those sort of exercises can make postnatal ab separation worse and slow core recovery. I have an appointment next week with a PT that specializes in women’s health/postnatal care and I’m going to see what she says in terms of how long I need to keep modifying/avoiding core work. I’m also avoiding anything high impact (jumping, running, etc.) for now, and will ask the PT about when it’s appropriate to slowly re-introduce that stuff, too.

As of Friday I was 6 weeks postpartum. As you guys know, my doctor cleared me for all exercise at my 4 weeks postpartum appointment, which reeeeally surprised me because I didn’t feel ready physically to jump back into fitness at all – and thankfully I learned from you guys that I should be smart and slow about my return to fitness, even though it was tempting to rush right out for a run or join the girls for a boot camp! I know that my body is still healing, and I need to respect that.

For those first 4 weeks, my fitness was outdoor walks – Matt and I took a walk almost every day with Riese and our dog in tow and it was a really nice way to get out of the house and do something together. Fresh air always lifts spirits, too, especially when we were spending the rest of the days at home and sleep deprived/overwhelmed! Walking was also great because it was something that felt good physically, and it was easy for me to slowly scale up both in terms of speed and distance as my body recovered. Our first walk, the day after we got home from the hospital, was really slow and only around the block, but each day we increased a little, and by one week out I was back up to nearly a mile if we went slowly. By another week later, we were up to 2 miles, and since then we have usually stuck around that distance, mostly because there are a bunch of Starbucks about a mile from us and we usually walk to one of them, get lattes, and walked back. 😉 So excited for the weather to warm up again this week – our walks haven’t been as frequent this past week given the extreme cold!

Even though the walking felt good, my body definitely felt really stiff and tight from all the sitting and awkward breastfeeding positions, and I was craving some stretching in particular by the time I was 4 weeks postpartum. So, after meeting with my doctor, I spent some time reading through your recommendations and doing my own research online about how to safely and gradually re-introduce exercise after pregnancy. I really appreciate those of you who shared advice – thank you!

One of the best resources I found (thanks to you guys!) was Jessie Mundell, an expert in prenatal and postnatal exercise who offers a number of different online fitness courses for pregnancy as well as postnatal recovery. The program I was really interested in was her 8 week Core + Floor Restore Series, which comes in both an original variation and a C-section specific variation. Perfect – exactly what I was looking for! I ended up purchasing the C section specific plan pretty much immediately after reading about it, and got started the next day.

The programs, which are meant to be started once you are cleared by your doctor for exercise, are 8 weeks long and include two month-long phases; the daily exercises change out when you switch phases. The program consists of a series of rehab-specific core and stretching moves to do that take no more than 10 minutes per day. I figured I could come up with 10 minutes, right?! I’ve found the program to be really well organized – it includes a great calendar document to check off each day, there’s information about how to assess ab separation, and there’s a really easy to follow daily checklist with all the moves so you make sure you don’t forget any (plus, checking things off a list makes me feel really awesome and accomplished). It comes with pictures of each move, too, which you can see above.

If you’re looking for something intense, this program is not it, but it’s a really great way to do some rehab on your core and pelvic floor, which will help to get you ready to jump back into more advanced fitness later on. It will also help to teach you how to breathe and hold your core as you do more intense moves later on.

The other program that I’ve been incorporating into my routine to get me back up to speed without overdoing it is my personal trainer friend Gina’s 12 Week Post Baby Bod Program, which she kindly gifted me when she saw I was cleared for exercise by my doctor.

For my fellow postpartum mamas, I would highly recommend following both Jessie’s Core + Floor Restore rehab program and Gina’s Post Baby Bod program in tandem – they are a wonderful complement to each other as Jessie’s program is focused on rehab and stretching, and Gina’s program gets you started back with strength training (but in a low key, gentle way). Gina’s program doesn’t have a C section specific option, but she does include modifications and tips for C section mamas throughout the program.

Gina’s program is also easy to follow and gives you a day-by-day exercise plan to follow with clear pictures and instructions, and it includes cardio recommendations in addition to strength. At the beginning the cardio is all walks/stroller walks, which is perfect since that’s what I was already doing! Her program also includes some nutrition tips and recipes, and I’ve found it to be useful and non-diety with delicious sounding balanced recipes. The whole tone of the program in general is very warm and positive and all about self care and practicing kindness towards yourself, which I love.

So there you have it! What I’ve been up to fitness-wise since Riese’s birth. I’ve missed a couple days of the programs here and there but for the most part I’ve done well making them a priority since starting them 2ish weeks ago. Matt has been good about helping me make them a priority, too – a couple times I’ve been like “Darn, it’s 8 p.m. and I didn’t do my rehab workout today.” And he’s like “The day isn’t over, is it?” 😉 It’s surprising how quickly the days go by, but I’m proud of myself for making these recovery workouts happen most days (and being gentle with myself on the couple of days I’ve missed them, too)! Not including my cardio (our walks), these programs usually take me 10-20 minutes per day (10 minutes for the Core + Floor Restore rehab moves which I aim to do daily, and then a few times a week there’s an additional 10 minutes for the Post Baby Bod Program strength moves). Efficient – I like it!

I’ll be talking more later this week about how I’m going to start to re-introduce more fitness classes and stuff outside of the house (because working out at home by myself is not my fave, although right now it’s what makes sense, especially as I’m rehabbing). My ClassPass is currently frozen/on hold (I emailed their customer support right before my C section and let them know the situation and they kindly froze it for me for free so I wasn’t getting charged; it will reactive at the end of this month, two months after I froze it). So any classes I do between now and then I’ll just pay for through the studios directly – I was tempted to start my ClassPass up again sooner, but I didn’t want to be stressed about getting in x classes per week, or pushing myself too hard. I’m also holding off on the running for now – as I said earlier, I want to wait until I meet with the PT to see what she thinks in terms of how soon I can start to slowly jog again. The weather is not exactly enticing for running right now, so that helps me to be more patient in the meantime. 😉

I will leave you with a few more resources that may be of interest if you are also getting back into fitness after having a baby:

  • A short glute release foam rolling video which is great for combatting breastfeeding tightness.
  • A pelvic floor release foam rolling video.
  • A video on how to massage your C section scar, if applicable.
  • More information about diastasis recti (ab separation), how to assess it in yourself, and a free exercise video appropriate for those with diastasis recti – via Jessica Valant Pilates, who a bunch of you recommended as a good postnatal resource. She also has a great post on postnatal exercise and why you should be avoiding planks after giving birth.

If you have any other postpartum fitness advice or resources worth a look, I’d love to hear them! Catch you guys tomorrow with some recent eats!


Your body needs time to heal after pregnancy (which is why the idea of “snapping back” is totally toxic). But that’s especially true for women who have had C-sections.

After a C-section, your body can take up to 12 weeks to fully recuperate (this is a bit different from the 6 to 8 weeks in standard deliveries), says Cristina Muñoz, MD, an associate professor in general obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina. A C-section is a major surgery, after all. In that time, your stitches will heal, your uterus will return to its regular size, and your body will release any extra fluid retained during pregnancy, she says. So yeah, it’s important to give it time.

Still, it can be uncomfortable (and annoying) waiting for your body to get back to its baseline. Here are a few things you can do to lose some extra baby weight in a healthy way.

1. First and foremost, be patient.

Again with the “snap back” thing—C-section recovery takes time. According to, Dr. Muñoz, total recovery will take about six to eight weeks and, until then, you shouldn’t overdo it. So, prioritize your health, eat smart meals, and hydrate.

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The most important thing to remember is that you cannot spot reduce and target only your midsection when it comes to weight loss—C-section or not. You’ll need to focus on your entire body, which will take time but is totally possible.

2. Breastfeed—but don’t restrict your calories.

“Typically, moms will notice that if they are fueling their body properly with a generally healthy diet and enough calories, some of the weight gained during pregnancy will naturally come off without any restrictions,” says Elizabeth Hurley, RD. That’s thanks, in large part, to breastfeeding, which can burn about 300 to 500 calories per day, producing and releasing milk to nourish your baby.

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But here’s the thing: While it might sound like a good idea to restrict calories during this time to create an even greater calorie deficit, it’s not. You need about 2,500 calories per day while breastfeeding, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Anything less could affect your milk supply, and in turn, affect your baby. Instead of cutting calories, focus on whole foods as part of healthy meals and the weight will start to come off on its own, says Hurley.

3. Don’t cut anything out and eat smart.

“This is not a time to deprive yourself and restrict foods unnecessarily, so try to consider ways to add nutrition into your day, rather than removing nutrition,” says Alyssa Lavy, RD. That means focusing on nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—and skipping any fad diets.

Plus, by adding more nutrient-dense foods to your diet, you’ll end up snacking less on things that are full of calories but lacking in nutrients, have fewer cravings, and manage your blood sugar levels—all important things for any weight-loss goals.

4. Try your best to get enough sleep.

You probably just rolled your heavy, tired eyes reading this, but sleep makes a difference. Lack of sleep will not only affect breast-milk production, but your metabolism, food choices, and hunger pangs, according to Hurley.

If you’re not sleeping enough, you’ll be tempted to reach for unhealthy and low-nutrient snacks for a quick boost of energy, especially since cooking takes time and energy—two things new moms don’t have a lot of.

5. Don’t forget to drink enough water.

Hydration is critical to your milk production, but also to resisting cravings. “Sometimes cravings are really signs that you need to drink because you’re getting dehydrated,” says Sonya Angelone, RD. Postpartum bodies require much more fluid—a few extra glasses per day—than others since so much of it goes to the baby. And while you’re at it, “avoid higher calorie beverages like juices that often have a lot of calories and little fiber,” she recommends.

6. Stay away from post pregnancy belts and girdles.

It’s important to do everything you can to allow your core muscles to work on their own, which means skipping any post-pregnancy belts or girdles, says Kat Ellis, a certified personal trainer who specializes in pre- and postnatal exercise.

You want your core muscles to heal and strengthen through exercise—post-pregnancy belts or corsets will only weaken them more, since your core will end up relying on something else to keep them in place.

7. Focus on stability exercises.

Moves like squats or planks—a.k.a. exercises that focus more on stability than rotation or extension—allow new moms who’ve had C-sections to rebuild and strengthen their cores and pelvic floors, says Ellis. Even though you didn’t deliver your baby vaginally, your pelvic floor will have still experienced trauma. Focus on exercises that bring your entire body, not just your stomach, to the healthiest state.

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These moves are also ideal for diastasis recti—when your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy—since they strengthen the muscles and tissue in the midsection without too much movement.

8. Keep your core protected at all times.

While diastasis recti can be a pain when it comes to the stomach “pooch,” it can also lead to other health issues down the road, like back pain, urinary stress incontinence, and pelvic floor dysfunction, says Leah Keller, a certified personal trainer and founder of Every Mother.

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That means being mindful about your core, even when you’re not exercising (keep a neutral spine and your shoulders relaxed). Eliminate crunches from your workout routine, along with any moves that make you push your abs forward (keep your hand on your stomach when working your core and watch yourself in the mirror).

Aryelle Siclait Assistant Editor Aryelle Siclait is an assistant editor at Women’s Health where she writes about relationship trends, sexual health, pop-culture news, food, and physical health for verticals across and the print magazine.

After c section exercises

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