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


If you are reading this article, it’s likely that  you are one of the approximately 40 percent1 of Singaporean women who have had a Caesarean section (C-section). Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

Having a C-section is no walk in the park. It is major surgery2 that may be hard on your body, especially taking a toll on your stomach muscles and pelvic floor. It is so important that you give your body the time it needs (and as advised by your ob-gyn) to heal after a C-section. But once you have recovered from the surgery, you may start to think about ways of losing your postpartum weight, especially around the tummy. 

Let’s take a look at some gentle and effective ways to manage your weight and tone your tummy area after a c-section, as well as important tips and information to keep in mind as you do so.

*According to HealthHub3, it takes at least six weeks for a C-section cut to heal. You should always check with your ob-gyn before attempting to lose weight. 

newborn

Patience is Key 

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

Here’s a good way to look at it: imagine that your abdomen is a balloon. The balloon slowly inflates as your baby grows. However, giving birth doesn’t simply “pop” this balloon. It only 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.

Keeping this analogy in mind, while it’s totally understandable that you may want to get back your pre-pregnancy body right away, it’s important to realize that your body went through many changes for you to give birth to your precious baby. Before being hard on yourself and potentially stressed out with the weight you’ve gained, take a moment to remember that it all happened for a beautiful reason.

First, Give Your Body Time

As soon as you give birth, the hormones4 in your body start to fluctuate and change. The pregnancy hormones are no longer needed, but others, like those needed for lactation5, increase. Your uterus contracts and slowly starts shrinking. It can take anywhere from six to eight weeks for your uterus to go back to its normal size6.

During pregnancy, your body holds more water than usual7. After giving birth, this extra fluid gradually gets released8 through sweating, urination, and vaginal secretions. You also gain weight in pregnancy–and this is required for your baby’s proper development. Pregnant women who do not gain enough weight risk9 premature birth, or low birth weight in their little one.

After your child is born, your body will work to naturally get rid of that extra fat, but it might take some time before you see results. How long it might take10 could depend on your normal body type, the amount of weight you gained during your pregnancy, your activity levels, 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.

Now that you understand the importance of giving your body time to readjust after giving birth, there are certain things you could do to help speed up the process of tightening and toning your abdomen area, while staying healthy.  

Before You Start

If you are determined to tone your stomach after a C-section, we’d like to remind you that it’s absolutely vital to talk to your doctor first. 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 six to eight weeks11 before you start to exercise or diet.

Five Tips To Help Tone Your Tummy And Promote Healthy Weight Loss After A C-section

1. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your baby12 is one of the most important functions you will perform after giving birth. While some women who’ve had a C-section may find it slightly more challenging to nurse their baby just after birth, it can be done with appropriate support from the hospital staff and your partner.

breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has an incredible range of benefits for your baby, ranging from bonding to providing antibodies and of course, tailor-made nourishment. But it also comes with an unexpected benefit for some mothers: weight loss. 

Milk production13 is fueled by the burning of calories in your diet, and fat cells stored in your body. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, exclusively breastfeeding mums could burn around 500 extra calories a day. For context14, this is equivalent to skipping one small meal, or engaging in around 45 minutes of medium-intensity exercise. 

In addition to burning calories, breastfeeding also triggers contractions in your uterus that help it shrink, helping to reduce the size of your belly.  

2. Healthy Eating 

Eating healthier does not mean going on a diet. It simply means cutting out the junk food and replacing it with a balanced diet. Going slow on processed foods (chips, baked goods, fried foods, etc.) or avoiding them altogether should let you regulate your weight in a healthy manner. Processed foods are higher in calories, so eating these could negatively impact your goal to get to a healthy weight.

However, whole foods15 (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, etc.) are naturally lower in calories. This means that you can actually eat a larger volume of them, while still losing weight in a healthy manner.  

3. Walking 

Walking is one of the best exercises16 that you can do after a C-section, of course after getting the green light to do so from your doctor. It is considered a low-impact exercise17, yet it still gets your heart rate up and your blood circulating, while assisting you to achieve a healthy weight.  You can also go walking with your friends, family and even your little one, either in a stroller or strapped to you.  

Breathing in fresh air while taking in the sights are also good ways to improve your mood and help you ward off those sometimes-overwhelming emotions of new motherhood. Remember to step outside in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat, and do bring a bottle of water, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent with you.  

4. Gentle Exercise

When you can safely recommence exercise, start with gentle activities. In addition to walking, stretching is an easy exercise, yet beneficial because it can help break up any scar tissue18 that contributes to a belly pouch.  

Here are three popular and easy gentle exercises that you could try 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. 

5. Belly Binding And Tummy Support

Belly or tummy binding is a popular postpartum practice in Asia. In Singapore, it is known by the Malay-Indonesian name Bengkung19, and is thought to promote shrinking of the uterus, help reduce water retention and swelling in the tummy area, and assist in pushing the uterus back into its original position. Abdominal wrapping is typically done by a specialist who may apply herbal pastes on the tummy area before wrapping. It is generally done daily until the confinement period ends.  

While traditional belly binding can be done almost immediately20 if you gave birth vaginally, C-section mums will need to wait until the cut is completely healed before using it. Given this, a good option to consider for C-section mums who still want to get the benefits of belly binding, is the C-Panty by UpSpring.

C-Panty C-Section Recovery Underwear High Waist

Designed especially for C-section recovery by a three time C-section mum and medical team, the C-Panty C-section underwear is a patented postpartum underwear. It’s created especially for C-section mums to provide incision care and postpartum slimming.  

c-panty

How does the C-Panty work? 

The C-Panty provides clinically determined, targeted and safe levels of compression directly over the incision area for new mums after a C-section. It helps protect the cut and keeps you more comfortable during your C-section recovery. The C-Panty also features a sewn-in medical-grade silicone panel that helps reduce itchiness and scarring. Medical grade silicone is non-toxic and does not irritate the skin or react to body fluids or other tissue. In fact, it has been shown to be therapeutic for scar treatment, and might help reduce the chances of infection around the cut, too. 

The C-Panty comes in two colours—nude and black. To learn more about how the C-Panty can support you through your C-section recovery process, and to purchase it, click here. 

*If you have any concerns, please contact your physician prior to wearing C-Panty.  

References 

  1. C-sections in Singapore: Implications for new moms. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from https://www.pacificprime.sg/blog/c-sections-in-singapore/

  2.  C-Section (Cesarean Birth): Procedure, Reasons, Recovery, and Complications. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from C-Section (Caesarean Section): Procedure, Reasons, Recovery, Risks & VBAC (medicinenet.com)

  3. Tips for Post C-Section Care. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1657/tips-for-post-c-section-care

  4. Hormones of pregnancy and labour. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Hormones of pregnancy and labour | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology

  5. World Health Organization, 2009. Infant and Young Child Feeding. Retrieved 1 June, 2021, from Infant and Young Child Feeding - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

  6. Your Guide to Postpartum Recovery. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Timeline of Postpartum Recovery (healthline.com)

  7. Swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

    8. What to Know About Postpartum Swelling. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Postpartum Swelling: What Is It and What To Do (webmd.com)

  8. Underweight during pregnancy. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Underweight during pregnancy | Tommy's (tommys.org)

  9. Losing weight after pregnancy. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Losing weight after pregnancy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

  10. Tips for Post C-Section Care. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Tips for Post C-Section Care (healthhub.sg)

  11. Breastfeeding: Health Benefits for Your Baby. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Breastfeeding: Health Benefits for Your Baby - HealthXchange

  12. I've heard that breast-feeding promotes weight loss. Is that true? Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Breast-feeding and weight loss: What really happens? - Mayo Clinic

  13. How Breastfeeding May Help You Shed Weight. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from Breastfeeding and Weight Loss: Know the Facts (healthline.com)

  14. The Whole Foods Diet. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from The Whole Foods Diet (webmd.com)

  15. When and how to exercise after a c-section. Retrieved 1 June 2021, from When and how to exercise after a c-section | Tommy's (tommys.org)

  16. High-impact Vs. Low-impact Exercises. Retrieved June 1 2021, from High-Impact vs. Low-Impact Exercises - ASFA (americansportandfitness.com)

  17. Why Scar Tissue Pain Occurs and What You Can Do About It. Retrieved June 1, 2021, from Scar Tissue Pain: Treatment, Symptoms, Starting Years Later, More (healthline.com)

  18. How Belly Binding Can Help With Recovery After Delivery. Retrieved June 1 2021, from Postpartum Belly Binding: Types, Benefits, How-To, DIY, More (healthline.com)

  19. How Belly Binding Can Help With Recovery After Delivery. Retrieved June 1 2021, from Postpartum Belly Binding: Types, Benefits, How-To, DIY, More (healthline.com)