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I never even heard of the phrases “c section shelf”, “c section flap”, c section pooch”, or “c section overhang” in my life until after I had an unexpected c section. I started googling why a part of my deflated postpartum belly was hanging over my c section incision.
That has never happened before and I was shook. I was self-conscious and worried that my midsection was never going to look the same ever again. And as much as I researched how to get rid of a c section shelf- all I could find were ab exercises.
After a whole year of working on my postpartum body and incorporating every piece of knowledge of my 9 years of experience in weight lifting and nutrition, I had to put together 10 crucial steps to get rid of your c section shelf (c section flap, pooch, overhang, or whatever the heck you want to call it).
Is my c section flap here to stay?
This is a difficult question to answer. The reason being is because not every one of our bodies is the same. We don’t have the same genetic makeup and there are so many variables like how many kids you’ve had, your lifestyle, and other things.
However, I do believe that if your skin did very well after your baby (or babies), you were an average weight prior to being pregnant, and you are highly motivated to get in shape and better your lifestyle- your c section flap is most definitely NOT here to stay.
I have seen some incredible transformations and this is why I believe that lifestyle modifications including both diet and exercise can be so powerful.
How To Get Rid Of Your C Section Shelf
Eeek. Let’s go over these core steps that got my deflated baby bump back where it needed to be and slowly but surely tightened up again. Don’t get me wrong, my belly skin is never going to be as tight as it was before I had my baby (unless I were to get a tummy tuck or something) but it is pretty dang close to where it was pre-pregnancy.
1. Fully recover
First of all, please sit your booty down and let your body heal. You can’t expect to see progress if you aren’t fully recovered. And the last thing you want to happen is for your incision to open back up and get infected.
I highly advise you to wait until your 6-week postpartum appointment to get the green light from your doctor to resume normal activities. Even when you do start going to the gym or working out, take it slow at first. You don’t want to push your body too far after a major abdominal surgery like a c section.
2. Eat healthy
This is no brainer. If you want the body you want, you can’t expect to wake up one morning with it if you’ve been binging on fried, sugary, and processed foods. Take the time to learn your macros so you can fit in one or two donuts each week. Or that 400-calorie Starbucks drink you’ve been craving. Read my other blog post about macros made simple here.
Along with learning nutrition, I highly recommend prepping your food throughout the week or for a few days at a time so you’re less likely to grab fast food. Prepping your food in advance and tracking your calories and macros play an important role in weight loss.
Ease back into working out. Take 20 to 30 minutes to work out the first week doing light bodyweight exercises. Then, increase your weight such as incorporating dumbbells as you gain more strength and feel like you’re ready to take up a notch.
The first few months after I had a c section, I did more cardio than weightlifting. As I healed more, I did about 50/50. And then I started weightlifting more than cardio. Lifting weights or strength training can help you build lean muscle which in turn burns fat. If you’re not much of a distance runner, I put together alternative cardio exercises you can do here.
4. Get sleep
You absolutely need sleep. According to Sleep Foundation, numerous studies have suggested that restricted sleep and poor sleep quality may lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and an increased risk of obesity and other chronic health conditions.
Your body recovers and restores during each sleep cycle. Not only will it aid in weight loss but it’s going to help your mental health, skin recovery (especially for our c section scars), and help minimize postpartum hair loss.
5. Drink water
Water has so many beneficial components. We honestly don’t take advantage of water as we should. It helps you lose weight, flush out built-up toxins, and your body soaks up water and its benefits. I go over several different ways you can increase your daily water intake.
6. Cut out sugar
Cutting out sugar is much harder to do than we expect. I know when I’m going on a sugar binge, it’s so addicting and so hard for me to stop cold turkey. The best way to cut out sugar is literally throwing away your cans or bottles of soda, throw away all of your sugar snacks in the fridge, freezer, or pantry, and just simply toss them out.
If you don’t have it easily accessible in the kitchen, you’re less likely to grab and munch. Cutting out sugary drinks might be your first step.
7. Massage your scar
You may or may not have heard to massage your scar from other c section moms. But massaging your c section scar helps break up the scar tissue so you have less of an overhang of skin appearance. And breaking up the scar tissue forming under your c section scar is going to help smooth that area out.
8. Do HIIT exercises
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. HIIT exercises help burn calories even after you’re done with your exercise. That’s the reason why they’re one of my favorites.
Read about my 11 favorite HIIT exercises to burn fat quick!
9. Eat foods that can tighten your skin
10. Wear a workout waist wrap
I love wearing a sweat waist wrap around my waist during my cardio sessions because it helps me sweat my stomach area out. This sort of wrap doesn’t squeeze your ribcage together as other corset-like waist trainers do. It’s mainly for when you work out so that your tummy gets a good sweat and ultimately helps you lose inches around your midsection.
Keep in mind that results aren’t going to happen overnight. Take it day by day, win by win, and let small accomplishments add up. And overtime after consistent effort and hard work, you’ll notice changes in your c section shelf. The skin around it will look tighter, the shelf will be less noticeable, and overall you’ll feel much better about yourself and have the energy to be increasingly active. This will ultimately transform your lifestyle into a healthy one.