Most women are ready to lose extra weight soon after they deliver a baby. Following a cesarean delivery, or C-section, however, it may be more difficult to drop tummy weight due to a longer recovery time and restrictions on exercise. It's essential to give your body that time to heal before making it your mission to lose your baby belly.
While you might have movement restrictions after a C-section, eating healthy is something you can start doing right away. If you were already eating a well-balanced diet throughout your pregnancy, this won't be as difficult after delivery. When it comes to exercise, most doctors recommend waiting at least six to eight weeks after a C-section before resuming all your regular activities and starting an exercise program. You should always follow your doctor's advice and not start an exercise plan without her approval because you have to heal both inside and out before putting any strain on your body following your C-section.
Eating a healthy and low-calorie diet after a C-section will not only help you lose your tummy, it will also help your body heal and recover. However, if you're breastfeeding, Karen J. Carlson, co-author of "The New Harvard Guide to Women's Health" cautions against strict dieting because your body needs adequate calories and nutrients. Rather than focusing on counting your calories, focus on filling your plate with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy foods. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, but are still low in fat and calories.
Once you have your doctor's okay to start exercising after your C-section, increase your calorie burn to shed the belly fat. Keep in mind that spot exercise won't work; you'll need a combination of aerobic exercise and toning to lose the tummy weight. MayoClinic.com suggests aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, spread throughout the week. Start slowly, gradually building up your workout times, as this allows you to gain strength and endurance without compromising your incision. Many new mothers choose walking for exercise because the baby can come along. Swimming and mommy/baby exercise classes are other good options for an aerobic workout. For toning, consider yoga or lifting small hand weights. Once you gain strength, abdominal exercises and sit-ups are helpful, too, because they'll help tighten you muscles to give you a toned look as you strip away the belly fat.
If you choose not to breastfeed after a C-section, it may take longer to get rid of your extra belly weight. This is because a breastfeeding woman needs 200 to 500 calories more than a woman who isn't breastfeeding. Your doctor is a good resource for determining your specific needs. When exercising, if you feel pain at the incision sight, experience bleeding or feel sick, stop and contact your doctor. In most cases, it takes several months to a year to get rid of excess tummy weight following a C-section, so stick with the program and avoid getting discouraged.