I have had two C-sections, and each time the tummy area above my incision has behaved differently. After my first pregnancy where I gained on the upper end of a normal amount of weight, my shelf was a puffy mound which settled immediately above the scar. After my second where I only put on a minimal amount of weight, I was lucky enough to end up with minimal puffiness. (it’s a shame since I’ve put on weight that it has become more pronounced!)
A C-section pooch can go away on it’s own! Sometimes it may need a little or a lot of medical help. C-section mothers are more likely to see their pooch go away on its own if they are generally fit and well, had minimal abdominal separation, and have only had one pregnancy.
There are actually lots of different types of C-section pooches and shelves; lots of different reasons as to why your jeans don’t fit like they used to. It could be because of:
- Abdominal separation (also known as diastasis recti)
- Skin laxity
- Fat accumulation
- Scar tissue which adheres to the muscle
The general consensus is that you need to allow your body enough time to recover from the trauma that it has endured during pregnancy, so “9 months in, 9 months out.” After a year or so if your body hasn’t returned to quite how you had hoped, I hope my below story and investigation helps you.
In my case I think I ended up with a combination of a few things, though I’ve been lucky enough to avoid extensive skin laxity on my tummy. Generally speaking if your skin has good elasticity, your C-section pooch may be able to be addressed by reducing the amount of fat on your body. While you can’t specifically target one area with diet and exercise, nonsurgical treatments like cryolipolysis (fat freezing) or minimally invasive surgeries like liposuction might be the thing you’re looking for.
First stop: Physiotherapy
Wendy Langshaw of Energy + Motion – Integrated Physiotherapy was my first port of call, being highly recommended by a number of other local mums online. The plan here was to target the foundation, if you will; the core muscles (below those abdominals) first to make sure my organs were safely held behind a core muscle wall.
“There is a difference between your abdominal muscles, and your core muscles. Doing sit ups in an attempt to make your tummy more flat is not something which will help a woman who is postpartum, in isolation. The best bet is to focus on your core muscles initially; your abdominals are the ones which are most affected by separation in pregnancy, but they are supported by your core.”
After following a treatment program and home training regime prescribed by Wendy I noticed a significant improvement in my tummy region. I felt more confident picking up my sons and when looking in the mirror, I really did notice a difference. I still had a problem though; I still suffered from an excess of “something” which made me feel self-conscious.
Your torso is quite a large area, and one of the key areas which impact the way the clothes fit on your body. It’s no wonder that for cosmetic purposes, your tummy is actually split up into two sections; your upper and lower abdomen.
Next stop: non surgical cryolypolisis
Just before my youngest son turned three, I picked up a voucher on Groupon for two sessions of cryolipolysis. My consultant was Pina, owner of Concept Hair, Skin and Beauty in Norwood, South Australia. Normally around $450AUD a session, my voucher got me two treatments for a single area for only $150.
“For best results, you really want to make sure that you’re treating the area you would like to target, and more generally the surrounding area.”
She was right; in my first session I only treated my lower abdomen, but I paid the extra to treat both my upper and lower in my second session. I do regret not treating both upper and lower in my first session; (each session is spaced 6 weeks apart) I noticed a significant difference between the areas…and it doesn’t seem ‘normal’ to have more fat sitting higher, rather than lower on my tummy.
It’s just that the placement of the liposculpture wands didn’t quite address the C-section pooch area; that little bit of tummy just before the scar. Eight weeks after my second treatment I still had a little bump just above my C-section scar.
The next stop: minimally invasive liposuction
Not being 100% satisfied with where I was at, I spoke to Kate at Cosmos Clinic in Adelaide about liposuction, specifically addressing the abdomen.
“Your abdomen is split into two liposuction areas; upper and lower. We wouldn’t generally only do lower area liposuction as it could lead to an uneven result. The surgeon will try and blend the liposuction areas to make things look more natural. You’re looking at about $6500 to target both upper and lower abdomen with liposuction, including an allowance for the compression garments you need to wear after surgery.”
Kate suggested that if my C-section bump was not as a result of lax abdominal or core muscles, nor from a complete access of fat in the area, (since I’d addressed both of these possibilities with physiotherapy and cryolipolisis) it was likely that I had some subtle scar adhesion; where the tissue surrounding my scar had adhered to the underlying muscle, which makes abdominal fat more pronounced. Her suggestion for me was some gentle liposuction, though many women who raise similar issues with their body end up undergoing a partial, or full tummy tuck.
“Ultimately you’ll want to see a surgeon in person who can assess your situation and discuss what you’re looking for as far as results.”
To be honest, i’m still fluctuating in weight more than I really should to be a suitable liposuction candidate. In any case, I’m looking forward to hearing what the team at Cosmos Clinic have to say about my situation.
I’m booked in for June 2021; unfortunately, COVID-19 has got in the way of timely bookings! I will update this post when I have more information! In the mean time – I’ve written more about c-sections; check out Can c-section scars be removed?