5 Best Ways to Lose Weight After a C-Section (#3 is the Most Effective)
Figuring out how to regain your pre-pregnancy body is a common anxiety with new mothers.
Your body goes through significant changes during pregnancy and again after childbirth. Weight gain is an obvious hurdle to bounce back from. And it's no surprise that cesarean deliveries tend to be more demanding than natural births.
The former involves an incision to the abdominal wall and uterus, which is no walk in the park. Because of this, you can expect healing and getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight to take some time, but don't fret. Pregnancy weight loss after a c-section is within reach with the right mindset and these actionable tips.
While some of these pieces of advice can be implemented before the baby arrives, others will require some time. Once your incision wound has healed completely, and you feel physically stronger, don't wait for anything else — start losing that baby weight. Now is the right time to lose those extra kilos and feel fit again!
Let's get into these five tips.
5 Best Ways to Lose Weight After a C-Section
#1 Eat Healthy
It should come to no surprise that an effective weight loss plan will start with a healthy diet. You must eat wholesome foods that fuel your body, so you can begin losing weight after pregnancy.
Now is not the time to restrict your calories — your body needs the energy to recover from c-section surgery and nourish your baby. The basic idea here is to eat a wide variety of healthy foods that fill you up without over-consuming calories (which will depend on many factors).
Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, and fats, and avoid overly processed foods. Processed foods tend to lean high in unhealthy fats and sugars, and are difficult for the body to digest.
Reach for whole grains, dark leafy greens, eggs, lean meats, low-mercury seafood, and high-fat dairy products with no added sugar to help you with milk production and fuel you with energy for exercise.
Here's a shopping tip to making sure you go home with less processed junk — shop outside the grocery isles. The walls of the grocery store tend to stock fresh produce, meats, and dairy, while the isles have foods that require preservatives and extra processing to increase the shelf-life.
Need some meal advice to help you plan your day? We've got you covered.
- Avoid filling up on pastries (croissants, muffins, danishes) or cereals for breakfast. They tend to be high in sugar and carbs, which can spike your insulin levels, leading to an eventual energy crash and can perpetuate sugar cravings.
- Try to include unprocessed foods from the five food groups. If you're opting for yogurt (a favorite breakfast food), look for brands that don't add any extra sugar.
- If you need a bit of sweetness, use fresh or frozen fruit or sweeten with a bit of honey.
- Your lunch, like every meal, should be nutritionally balanced.
- Protein and fats are naturally satiating, meaning it will keep you feeling full for longer to avoid mindless snacking between meals.
- Healthy doesn't mean it needs to take a lot of time.
- Prepare your own nutritionally balanced freezer meals that are preservative-free — soups, casseroles, quiches, and side vegetables are all freezer-friendly and quick to serve.
- Salmon is one of the best sources of proteins for breastfeeding moms because it's chock-full of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a form of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 DHA is especially vital for breastfeeding mothers because it's critical for the growth and functional development of the brain and nervous system in infants.
We understand it's not always easy to mind your nutrition with a new baby, but it's one of the essential components of losing baby weight successfully.
Coincidentally, eating a healthy diet will help with the next "weight loss after baby" tip.
#2 Breastfeed the Baby
Did you know breastfeeding helps with weight loss after pregnancy?
This is because your body burns around 500 extra calories to produce milk with life-sustaining nutrients — vitamins, fats, proteins — for the baby.
How long does it take to lose weight after a c-section?
Regardless of whether you've had a natural birth or delivered via c-section, you can expect to lose weight in as little as a couple of months after delivery if you breastfeed. Most healthy newborn babies are ready to breastfeed as early as an hour after birth.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers shed more weight quicker than mothers who don't, especially during the first three postpartum months.
Breastfeeding also triggers the release of the hormone, oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract. This contraction helps the uterus shrink back to its pre-baby size, effectively making your belly look and feel smaller.
Of course, there are many other benefits of breastfeeding your baby, including strengthening your baby's immune system, aiding in growth and development, and it's easier for your child to digest over formula.
To go back to our first tip, make sure you're eating a balanced healthy diet so you can produce the best milk for your baby. What you eat directly affects the quality of the milk you produce, so limit your caffeine intake, avoid high-mercury seafood, and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol while breastfeeding.
#3 Start Exercising
Before we talk about exercising to lose weight after pregnancy, it's advisable to wear postpartum underwear — or, better yet, a supportive post-pregnancy girdle for your workouts.
A high-quality post-pregnancy girdle squeezes everything around your belly in tight to support your abdominal and back muscles during your exercises.
Now, let's get to the part about why this is the best tip for losing pregnancy weight after a c-section.
There's simply nothing better than physical movement and training as far as weight loss is concerned — but be mindful of how your body feels. C-section deliveries require more time to heal. Typically, exercise should be avoided in the first six to eight weeks after giving birth — but it doesn't mean you shouldn't get moving.
You can start by going for short walks. Walking after abdominal surgery prevents blood clots and speeds healing.
After speaking with your doctor, and you no longer have any pain from your c-section incisions, it's safe to start with low-impact exercises such as yoga, low-resistance bands, the elliptical, pilates, swimming, or light jogging.
What's the best exercise to lose weight after a c-section?
As you gradually rebuild your strength in your body over time, you may increase the intensity of your workouts. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are excellent for burning calories to lose extra belly fat after a c-section delivery, and HIIT workouts don't take much time out of your day (20 - 45 minutes). After all, you need to make the most out of your time with a new baby in the house.
Exercising with Diastasis Recti
Diastasis looks like a bulge or a pouch in your lower abdomen and can sometimes lead to lower back and pelvic pain.
Diastasis recti occurs when the abdominal muscles (the 6-pack muscles) separate from the center, weakening your core. This is very common among pregnant women, as the belly stretches to make space for the baby.
Sometimes, diastasis will correct itself after birth as you regain strength in your core —other times, it requires surgery.
Getting rid of this extra pouch on your stomach after a c-section can be challenging, since you may be dealing with stitches. Before you get back to exercising, get the green light from your doctor, and start with gentle core exercises.
Wearing a c-section corset immediately after surgery and during exercises can help mitigate pain from diastasis recti and help support the surrounding muscles in the core while you regain strength.
#4 Limit Unhealthy Eating
This may be an obvious tip — but sometimes unhealthy foods are hidden in plain sight and can be disguised as healthy options.
The goal is not to stop indulging in delectable desserts. Because that's unachievable and unrealistic. Instead, try to reduce consumption. Candy, ice-cream, cookies, and cake are obvious junk foods that are abundant in calories, sugar, and saturated fat.
Fruit juices, flavored yogurt, granola, diet foods are marketed as healthy, but they can contain a lot of hidden calories, extra sugar, carbs while offering minimal nutritional value.
Fruit juice, for example, is an excellent source of vitamin C — however, it's packed with sugar and lacks the fiber from the fruit. The fiber balances the fructose (sugar) by helping slow the absorption. Without it, you may as well eat spoonfuls of sugar.
When it comes to losing weight, being selective of where your calories come from is a must. You need to maintain a certain number of calories to fuel for your body for both breastfeeding and exercise — overconsumption will lead to weight gain.
Unfortunately, processed food and sugar perpetuate a vicious cycle.
The more you indulge in unhealthy food, the more often you crave it. To avoid sugar and carb cravings, reach for food high in healthy fats and protein. Fat and protein are naturally satiating, meaning it will keep your body feeling full for longer. When you feel full, you avoid snacking where you're more prone to give in to these unhealthy choices.
#5 Remain Hydrated
Regardless of whether you've just given birth or are only looking to lose weight, hydration is key to losing belly fat.
Dehydration is often behind the scenes when we feel food cravings emerge. The body often confuses thirst for hunger, making you reach for food over water. This can lead to consuming more calories than you need in a day, delaying your fat loss goals.
Hydration becomes so much more critical when you're breastfeeding to nourish the baby. One way to know that you're sufficiently hydrated is to have a peek at your urine when you use the washroom. If your pee is dark, you definitely aren't drinking enough water.
Use a water bottle with measurements, so you can track your progress throughout the day.
But not everybody likes to drink so much water. In that case, don't hesitate to jazz up your beverage with natural flavors.
You can add lemon, lime, or fresh mint to the glass of water — You won't believe how delicious cucumber water tastes! Other options include brewing tea or eating fruits and vegetables high in water like lettuce, celery, cucumber, and watermelon.
If you find you're not seeing the results you want with your c-section weight loss goals, try drinking more water and increasing your electrolytes to stay hydrated.
Electrolytes are essential salts and minerals that the body needs to maintain the balance of fluids in our system. If you don't replenish your electrolytes via a balanced diet or oral supplements, you can feel dehydrated or experience several other symptoms of electrolyte imbalance.
Coconut water, fruits like bananas and avocados, and dairy products contain high amounts of potassium that helps the body retain water and is involved with many other vital bodily functions.
Takeaways: How To Lose Weight After C-Section Deliveries
Many women struggle to lose weight post-pregnancy, especially if you've had a c-section delivery, which often has a longer recovery period. The best pieces of advice are about building healthier habits to sustain your weight goals, and it involves understanding what your body needs to heal and nurture your new baby.
Tips such as eating healthy, limiting junk foods, and staying hydrated are actionable before giving birth and can help you with fat loss success after delivery. However, you'll see the most results once you start exercising again. The key to all of these steps is consistency.
As soon as your doctor gives you the green light, stop thinking about losing weight and go out and do it.
Wearing a postpartum girdle that fits snugly around your core can help reduce pain during exercises by supporting your hard-working muscles. If you're experiencing diastasis recti, wearing a garment that hugs in the belly, like a Bellefit corset, will be your best weapon for a speedy recovery.
Although these tips may seem simple, they've been proven highly effective for helping women lose that stubborn baby weight.
We sincerely hope this post showed you ways to make these tips actionable and sustainable throughout the day as your schedule, post-delivery has drastically changed.
Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts and opinion below in the comments section.
Thank you for reading. Take care, mommies!
About the author:
Barbara Davis is the creator of Mom Trusted Choice. She started the blog to talk about the tears, laughter, struggle, and fun that are a part of motherhood. Her focus is to curate articles that provide a great deal of assistance in most practical aspects of pregnancy and parenting. There are plenty of posts revolving around common topics that to-be moms and moms search for online.