Dear Fitness Expert,
I have a question on toning up your stomach after a c-section. I have had 3 c-sections and I have what I have heard a lot of c-section mothers refer to the 'belly flap'. Below my incision scar is thin but my stomach over the incision is my problem area. I have lost weight and toned up all over my body but nothing seems to get rid of this flap. My stomach actually hangs over the incision scar reminding me of a beer belly that hangs over a belt.
I have heard from other moms that it is not possible to tone this area. That plastic surgery is required to lose the 'belly flap'. That after a c-section those muscles can never be toned again and that scar tissue causes the flab. Is this true? Is there anyway to tone my stomach?
The reality is few women have those hard-looking six-packs we see on magazine covers, including the women who appear to have the hard-looking six packs. It's make-up, lights, cameras and touch-ups.
Still, one should never say never! Yes, it is possible for you to have incredible abs. By changing your diet, limiting sodium intake, extra carbs and fat, and committing yourself to an intense exercise regiment you can create a lean, hard stomach.
For the vast majority of women, this 'belly flap' (better known as 'mothers apron') is stored fat from the pregnancy. It is very stubborn and difficult to get rid of. Most women are unable, unwilling or unprepared to commit to the exercise and diet routine needed to blast the fat. But for those women who are willing and able to take the challenge, lean abs are possible.
I have worked with many clients who have had a c-section and now have fabulous abs. Unless there was muscle damage, this should not be an issue. However -- sorry, there is a however to consider -- for women who have more elastic skin and/or gained an excessive amount of weight, there is the issue of extra (stretched) skin. No matter how much you fight the fat, loose skin may still be a problem. The only way to rid yourself of this is cosmetic surgery. Again, this is less often the case. The vast majority of 'belly flaps' are fat that can be sculpted.
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!