If you’re worried that having a C-section will increase your likelihood of postpartum belly flab, you may be relieved to know that your post-surgery body may have less of a belly pouch than the body of a woman who delivered vaginally. The reason is that a good surgeon will stitch your abdominal muscles back together completely, creating a girdle effect, explains OB-GYN Sean Daneshmand, a maternal-fetal specialist at San Diego Perinatal Center, in “Fit Pregnancy” magazine. Unfortunately, less belly pouch doesn’t mean no belly pouch, and you’ll probably still need to put in a little effort to get a flat belly after a C-section.
Wait until your doctor gives you the go-ahead to start exercising after your C-section. Your body will need at least six weeks — and probably even longer — to heal from childbirth and surgery, says exercise physiologist and postpartum-fitness expert Renee M. Jeffreys, in “Fit Pregnancy” magazine. If you try to push yourself too early, you could end up in serious pain.
Start by doing gentle exercises that will rebuild the core muscles in your abdomen and pelvic floor, recommends Laura Staton, dancer-choreographer, prenatal yoga instructor and co-author of “Baby Om: Yoga for Mothers and Babies,” in “Parents” magazine. Yoga bridges, modified cobras and forward bends are all good choices, says Staton.
Pay attention to your diet, and choose a mix of healthy whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables. You don’t need to diet, especially if you’re breastfeeding, but you should avoid empty calories and high-fat, high-calorie foods, recommends MayoClinic.com.
Walk 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, increasing the pace and intensity of your workout as you’re able, recommends “Fit Pregnancy.” Walking is an aerobic workout, which helps your body burn fat.
Do exercises that work your abdominal muscles every other day to tighten and tone your tummy, recommends “Fit Pregnancy.” Crunches and bicycle exercises are classic ab-tightening exercises that work well post-pregnancy.