Hi, I recently had my a baby 3 weeks ago and like any mom anxious to start loosing weight, I only gained 2 stone in pregnancy and got just over a stone to loose , I am wondering if there is any gentle exercises you can do after having a caesarean or is there any foods you recommend I eat to help me loose weight as I know that exercise if off limits after having a caesarean any tips would be great.
Congratulations on the birth of your baby. It's great to hear that you're eager to start losing weight after having your baby but just remember to progress slowly and only when you feel ready - a caesarean is extremely traumatic on the abdominal muscles.
Following a caesarean a specific approach is necessary to help re-align scar tissue and re-activate abdominal muscles. The key, post-pregnancy is to re-establish the internal strength in the deep abdominal muscles. Just training the superficial abdominal muscles won't give you the flat, toned stomach you want, especially after a C section where they cut through the abdominal wall.
On a daily basis you need to be re-training your deepest abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals and pelvic floor) so practice the 'drawing-in manoeuvre' (pulling your belly button back towards your spine as you breathe). By strengthening your TVA and retraining it to automatically activate and hold, you can visibly reduce the size of your waist and protect your lumbar spine in the long-term.
In addition to training your deep abdominal muscles you also need to be retraining the more superficial muscles of the abdominal area including the rectus abdominals ('six-pack' muscles) - the muscle tissue that is cut into during a c-section. However, it’s important to check that your abdominal muscles have started to come back together before training these muscles. Here is a way that you can self-check them, and if you are unsure visit your GP or health visitor and they will happily check for you.
Lie down on your back with knees bent. Gently lift your head and shoulders off the ground about 10cm. While maintaining this crunch position, use your finger tips to feel if there is a gap just above your belly button between the muscles. There will most likely be at least a small gap. If it is big enough to fit 2-3 finger widths in, then they are still separated a bit too much for crunches and you should avoid this action. If under 2-3 finger widths, you’re fine to hit the ground running - try a basic crunch with your knees in a bent position, doing 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions.
Due to the scar tissue present, these need to be performed at a slow, controlled pace, with a full range of motion, and conscious attention given totally to the abdominal area you are trying to strengthen. At the top of each crunch movement pause and hold for 1 second while trying to consciously squeeze your abdominal muscles. You should really feel the muscles waking up, working and tiring out!
In terms of your nutrition try to ensure you are:
- eating a wide variety of different foods
- eating plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre (base meals around foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes)
- avoid too many fatty and sugary foods (try grilling or baking instead of frying or roasting, and when you do use oil, choose one that says it is high in polyunsaturates or monounsaturates)
- eat fruit and vegetables every day (all types count, including fresh, frozen, canned and fruit juices, the key is variety!)
- make sure you are rehydrating, drink little and often. If we are dehydrated our body's ability to burn fat is directly affected
Hope this helps,
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