Women who have Cesarean sections to give birth may struggle post-partum to get rid of C-section belly fat. This pooch of belly fat along the lower abdomen causes a good deal of concern, at least from an aesthetic standpoint. While some personal trainers may tell women who have had a C-section that the fat is impossible to lose and they will never have a flat tummy, this is not entirely true. The key for these women is in determining the source of the pooch and then dealing with it.
Belly Fat Considerations
Skin or Fat?
You first need to make sure that you what you have is actually fat. While most women assume that their bulge is fat, for some women it is skin. If the skin around the belly can be pinched and skin pulled away, then the problem is not fat. The loose skin cannot be controlled through diet or exercise. Instead, it must be removed surgically.
According to Pelvic Health and Rehab, nerve damage is a common problem following a C-section. Nerves that are cut or entrapped following a C-section can result in pain during transitionary movements, such as going from a seated to a standing position, notes Pelvic Health and Rehab. Unfortunately, this pain can make it more difficult to engage in regular physical activity, which is a must when it comes to losing body fat and toning lose skin.
If you want to lose weight, the premise is simple; burn more calories than you consume, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doing so is a little tougher, however, especially when you're a new mom.
Count Your Calories
When trying to lose weight, most people turn to major caloric restriction. And while this can be helpful in certain circumstances, it is a serious "no-no" for who are looking to shed C-section belly fat.
"Women who have had a C-section must eat at least 1,800 calories per day to fuel their bodies and provide adequate nutrition for their babies," says Brita Hansen, Registered Dietitian at Allina Health Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While this is an important recommendation for all women, states Hansen, it is especially crucial for those who are breastfeeding.
Follow a Balanced Diet
For optimal results when it comes to slimming down after a C-section, WebMD recommends following a diet that incorporates a wide variety of different types of foods. Superfoods - which are nutritionally dense and low in calories - may be especially helpful when it comes to providing you and your baby with important vitamins and minerals, yet keeping your 1800 calorie budget in check.
Be sure to eat plenty of milk, yogurt, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins, like fish, chicken, and beans, recommends WebMD, for optimal results when it comes to fueling up and slimming down.
According to Hansen, "drinking enough water each day can help prevent dehydration, and may aid in weight loss." In fact, Hansen reports that drinking plenty of water can help fill you up, and may make it less likely that you feel the need to snack on unhealthy junk foods like chips, pastries, and candy.
To ensure you are getting enough water each day, U.S. News and World Reports suggests drinking at least half of your body weight in fluid ounces. A woman who weighs 160 pounds after her C-section, for example, should aim for 80 ounces of fluids each day.
"Breastfeeding can increase your daily calorie burn and may be helpful for women who want to lose C-section belly fat," says Hansen.
In addition to aiding in weight loss, breastfeeding can also strengthen the baby's immune system and may provide other important health benefits.
Once you are working on reducing the fat in your belly and making steady progress, you should begin a regimen of exercises targeting this region. Pelvic Health and Rehab recommends waiting at least six to eight weeks after your C-section to start a structured exercise program.
In Exercise Testing and Prescription, the American College of Sports Medicine reports that women who have undergone a C-section should start with low-intensity cardiovascular exercise. Walking, swimming, or riding a bike for 30 minutes three times a week is a great place to start, notes the American College of Sports Medicine. As your body heals - and you feel better - you may be able to increase exercise intensity.
Remember that with all forms of cardiovascular exercise, these activities are unable to specifically target fat loss in the belly, but instead will result in overall weight loss. As weight loss become more substantial, however, you should be able to notice reductions in preferred areas.
While toning the lower abdominal region may not result in significant fat loss, it can make the area appear leaner by tightening loose muscles. For optimal results when choosing resistance training exercises following a C-section, look for those that target the lower abdomen, without requiring you to put weight or pressure on this body part.
Glute bridges are a great exercise that help tone the abdomen without applying pressure to the C-section incision site.
Bust Your Belly Fat
Getting rid of belly fat after a C-section is no easy task. Remember, however, that your pregnancy lasted nine months, and it may take just as long to get your body back to its pre-pregnancy shape.
Making changes to your diet and exercise can be helpful for those who want to tone their belly after a C-section. With some patience and hard work, you can reach your long-term goals.