How To Get Rid of Hanging Belly After C-Section (MD Explains)

Are you wondering how to get rid of your hanging belly after a c-section?

You are in the right place.

In this post, I will teach you:

  • How to get rid of your hanging belly naturally,
  • What causes the c-section pooch, and
  • The best types of exercises to target stubborn belly fat.

Let’s get started.

how to get rid of hanging belly after c-section cover image

Disclaimer

***READ FIRST***

Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. All kinds of exercise and dietary changes are potentially dangerous, and those who do not seek counsel from the appropriate health care authority assume the liability of any injury which may occur. Please read my full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning I may receive a commission if you use them.

Ok, moving on.



Is It Possible To Get Rid Of A Hanging Belly After A C-section Naturally (Without Surgery)?

Yes, it is possible to reduce the appearance of a hanging belly after a c-section without surgery. 

But it’s not easy and not always possible.

It requires a combination of good nutrition, proper hydration, regular exercise, and patience.

Good Nutrition

The first step in reducing your post-cesarean stomach overhang is improving your nutrition.

The only way to shed excess fat throughout your body is by decreasing your overall body fat percentage through a calorie deficit.

Without a calorie deficit, you cannot lose fat.

So this means that you need to eat healthy foods that are high in protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals but low in calories.

The best types of foods to include in your diet are:

  • plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • lean proteins like fish, chicken, turkey, edamame
  • healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados
  • whole grains like quinoa, oats, and brown rice

Plus, try to limit your intake of sugary foods and processed snacks, which are high in calories and low in nutrients.

Check out my 5 Step Postpartum Diet plan to learn more.

image saying : maximize nutrition with protein fiber rich foods and hydration

Proper Hydration

Staying hydrated is also vital when it comes to lowering your body fat percentage and losing belly fat.

Water can hydrate your body, help you feel full, and may prevent you from overeating. Plus, it can help you reduce your intake of other calorie-rich fluids like:

  • juices
  • sodas, and
  • coffees with milk and creamers

So, how much water should you drink?

Just take a look at your urine.

Are you urinating at least three times a day? Is it a pale yellow color?

If not, chances are you need more water.

image of water with a pale yellow color

Regular Exercise

The third component to achieving healthy weight loss is regular exercise. However, you must get clearance from your healthcare provider before doing any exercise post-c-section. They can assess your c-section scar and ensure that you are healing appropriately.

Once you get clearance, you can do traditional cardio exercises like:

  • brisk walking,
  • running,
  • swimming, and
  • cycling

Cardio is great for burning extra calories and contributing to your caloric deficit.

But you also don’t have to do cardio.

General physical activities like walking, cleaning, and playing with the kids can also help burn calories. This process is known as NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

Lastly, strength training can also be beneficial for building muscle and increasing your metabolism.

Bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and wall push-ups are a great place to start. You can also try resistance bands or free weights if you’re looking for more of a challenge.

dr. brittany showing a squat while holding a dumbbell

Patience and Consistency

Finally, you must be patient and consistent with your efforts to achieve a flatter stomach.

Be gentle with yourself and have grace. You had a baby, AND you had MAJOR abdominal surgery!

Give yourself at least 8-12 weeks to recover from the cesarean section before expecting to see any results.

Now, it’s important to note that even after following the steps above, you may still not be happy with the appearance of your postpartum belly.

More on that later.

Other Important Strategies

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet and increasing your physical activity, there are other strategies to help you reduce the appearance of a c-section pooch.

If you can, do your best to:

  • Breastfeed: (Breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories a day, which can help you lose weight post-baby)
  • Manage Stress Levels: (Stress increases the hormone cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain and fat storage in the abdominal area).
  • Get Adequate Sleep: (Sleep also helps reduce cortisol levels)

Obviously, these are all easier said than done with a newborn baby (I know, I’ve been there!) But try to make them a priority when you can.

I go over 13 more strategies for losing weight post-c-section in this post!

Are There Exercises To Target The Hanging Belly Fat?

Unfortunately, there are no exercises that specifically target hanging belly fat.

Studies show that spot reduction doesn’t work (i.e., doing abdominal exercises will not get you a flat belly).

However, it is still important to do core strengthening exercises to help you rebuild strength in the abdominal muscles.

This is especially true if you have diastasis recti (the separation of the abdominal wall muscles that can occur during pregnancy).

If you do, it is essential that you start with gentle abdominal exercises like diaphragmatic breathing and posterior pelvic tilts and avoid traditional ab exercises like planks and sit-ups.

Check out How to Tell if You Have Diastasis Recti to learn more.

Will I Have Loose Skin After?

It is possible that you will develop loose skin following weight loss, especially if you lose a significant amount of weight. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know if you will.

Factors that may affect the amount of extra skin you might have include:

  • Age (the older you are, the less resilient your skin will be)
  • Genetics (some people are genetically predisposed to having more or less elasticity in their skin)
  • Amount of weight lost (the more weight you lose, the more likely you are to have excess skin and stretch marks)
  • How quickly you lost the weight (the faster you lose it, the less time your skin has to adapt and “bounce back”)

Ideally, it would be best if you tried to lose weight slowly and steadily. Maintaining good skin elasticity through proper hydration and a healthy diet is also important.

In some cases, a surgical procedure is necessary to remove the stretched skin.

I discuss Skin Changes After Pregnancy in more detail in another post.

loose-skin-daily-checklist: did i drink 48 oz of water? did I consume 2 servings of fruit? did I consume 2 servings of vegetables? did I walk for 20 minutes or perform strength training? did I consume 1 serving of healthy fats? did I consume 1 serving of lean protein today?

How Long Does It Take To Go Away?

It will take approximately three months postpartum until your uterus shrinks back to normal size and for you to recover from the surgery. After that, it will likely take six to twelve months for your abdomen to return to its pre-pregnancy shape and size.

With that said, every woman is different.

Some women may find that their abdomen returns to its pre-pregnancy shape more quickly, while others may need more time to see significant improvements.

Remember, establishing healthy lifestyle habits like proper nutrition and regular exercise takes time.

Be patient and focus on making small, sustainable changes that you can maintain for the long term.

Other Related Questions

What Causes The C-Section Pooch (aka The C-Section Pouch)?

The “c-section pooch” is a term used to describe the appearance of a bulge or protrusion in the abdomen after a c-section.

This bulge is often caused by a combination of factors, including muscle separation (diastasis recti), poor posture, and excess body fat.

Do C-Sections Cause The Pooch?

C-sections do not directly cause the “c-section pooch,” but they can certainly contribute to it. During a c-section delivery, the abdominal muscles are separated in the midline to access the uterus and deliver the baby.

These muscles (the rectus adominis) may not always return to their pre-pregnancy position after delivery, leading to a bulge appearance.

It is important to note that other factors, such as weight gain during pregnancy and a sedentary lifestyle, can also contribute to a c-section pooch. 

Can Compression Garments Help?

Compression garments, such as girdles, belly bands, and abdominal binders, are helpful after surgery because they provide support to the stomach muscles and aid in postpartum recovery.

While they may provide a slimmer appearance temporarily, they do not help you lose belly fat or strengthen your core muscles.

Also, make sure that you take off the bands from time to time to allow your incision to get some air.

Check out my post on belly bands to learn more.

What About Massages?

Unfortunately, massage therapy will not make the c-section pouch or belly hang go away. However, massage may help relieve tension and improve circulation in other body parts, like the c-section scar.

When Should You Consider Surgery?

If healthy lifestyle habits and non-surgical methods are insufficient for achieving your postpartum goals, surgery may be your last resort.

Possible surgeries include:

  • A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) to remove excess skin and fat
  • An abdominal plication (to correct diastasis recti and tighten the connective tissue of your abdomen)
  • A panniculectomy (removal of excess fat from the lower abdomen, aka a pannus)

If you are considering cosmetic surgery, it is essential to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon who can assess your individual needs and discuss the risks and benefits of each procedure.

It is also important to remember that surgery cannot replace a healthy lifestyle. You must still eat a balanced diet and get regular physical activity for your overall health.

Do You Have An Exercise Routine to Follow?

Yes, I have an exercise routine that focuses on strengthening your core and pelvic floor muscles following cesarean delivery.

This workout was designed by me, an OBGYN and personal trainer :).

You can see the post-c-section workout here!

Post-C-Section-Workout-PDF-cover

Final Words On The Best Ways To Reduce The C-Section Overhang

In conclusion, losing the hanging belly after a c-section delivery is tough, but it may be possible. Focus on establishing healthy lifestyle habits like proper nutrition and regular exercise, and don’t forget to rebuild core strength with appropriate training.

Now I want to hear from you.

What have you tried to lose excess belly fat post c-section?

Have you been able to get a flatter stomach?

Comment below and let me know!

Other related posts:


Get Four Free Workouts To Help Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor & Heal Your Mommy Tummy!


brittany-robles

Brittany N Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN, a NASM certified personal trainer, and health & fitness, expert. She holds a Masters of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.



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References:

  1. Ramírez-Campillo R, Andrade DC, Campos-Jara C, Henríquez-Olguín C, Alvarez-Lepín C, Izquierdo M. Regional fat changes induced by localized muscle endurance resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):2219-24. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e8681. PMID: 23222084.