Your C-Section Shelf: Scar Tissue, Lax Skin, And Body Fat


It’s hard to avoid the C-section shelf. It can happen with your first pregnancy, or it may not show up until you’re on your fourth baby. The causes of a C-section pooch are many and varied: The way your body heals the scar tissue, stretch marks from pregnancy that cause lax skin, and your fat distribution across different areas of the body. In this article, we will explore what causes a C-section shelf and how you can work on getting rid of it!

Why does my belly hang after C-section?

A C-section shelf is excess fat and loose skin that hangs after a woman has delivered her child via cesarean section.

Some women have raised scars from their surgery with puffy scar tissue while others can end up in much better shape: barely any evidence of having undergone such an invasive procedure at all! The lucky few will emerge looking like they never even gave birth to begin with; no visible signs of stretching or extra weight on them whatsoever.

Ultimately it is a combination of fat and skin that contributes to the shelf over your C-section scar. This type of belly protrusion differs between one mother to another’s body, where fat cells hang freely over the abdominal muscles instead of being connected by fibrous tissues (like muscle) for support – giving some moms more of a pooch than others.

Mothers everywhere know that postpartum fat is a pain to deal with. This baggage on your midsection can make you feel obese and self-conscious. While you may be able to exercise and change your diet to reduce the amount of fat you have on your body, it can often be that lax postpartum skin that creates the biggest problem of all.

During the last stages of a C-section, a mother’s skin is sutured, glued, or stapled together. However, fatty tissue underneath may not be – it all depends on how much that is on mom’s body in that area at the time, and what the obstetrician performing the C-section thinks is best.

My baby is one year old – why do I still have a C-section pooch?

It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who has ever had a paunch, or that your Mom bod is never going away. You’re back at it again and staying hydrated with all those healthy drinks- but still staring down at your belly which is just not flattening fast enough. Truth be told maybe this will take some time because mom bods aren’t something most people get rid of easily (though there are ways). Or perhaps living life in jeans won’t be a thing like it used to.

Here are some of the major reasons why you still have a C-section pooch even though your baby was born a while ago.

You have diastasis recti

The abdominal muscles and connective tissue in the middle of our bodies widen and thin during pregnancy, to accommodate the growth of your baby. This can lead to back pain, pelvic floor issues, and you guessed it – that glorious pooch! Luckily for some people it will repair all on its own while up to 60% experience a separation that requires treatment from an experienced pelvic floor therapist along with core strengthening exercises.

Your body is impacted by stress

Stress is inevitable (you have children after all!) but it’s important to know how our body reacts when we’re stressed. Too much stress means too much cortisol, which can lead to weight gain and an increase in blood pressure! Try to take some time for yourself through self-care practices like breathing exercises or mindful meditation while also reminding yourself of all the good things going on (think positive affirmations).

You have an allergy or sensitivity which is causing inflammation

A number of different foods can trigger inflammation in our bodies and cause symptoms that vary depending on the individual. after pregnancy, your abdominal skin is generally thinner and your abdominal muscles are lax – both of these things will augment the visual appearance of inflammation in your tummy area. gluten is definitely one of them along with dairy as well as soy or alcohol for some people too. The best way to identify these triggers would be through an elimination diet (removing major culprits) followed by reintroduction so you know exactly where your problem lies—and then making adjustments accordingly!

You need to work on your gut health

The gut microbiome is made up of more bacterial cells than human cells. The bacteria in our guts have an important role, like helping us digest food and protect against inflammation or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People without these disorders maintain a healthy balance by eating colorful foods like vegetables with plenty of fiber as well as probiotics for an extra boost to your gut health.

Your scar tissue is still healing

Subcutaneous tissue (or rather any tissue needing incision during the C-section) will heal through developing scar tissue. An obstetrician will need to make incisions through several layers to get to baby, and each of these layers will need to heal. If you were to press on the area around your incision you may find that some areas are more firm than others – this is actually the scar tissue. the more layers that form sizable scar tissue, the bigger and denser this area will be, and the bigger your C-section pooch will look. Scar tissue can soften over time, but don’t expect diet and exercise to affect this terribly.

I wish my tummy looked like hers…

What can I do to get my flat stomach back after a C-section?

Most mothers will have some baby weight that they would like to lose after giving birth, and addressing the above points can be helpful to build mom’s self-esteem by reducing the amount of excess fat accumulated during pregnancy. Keep in mind that it is completely normal to gain additional weight during pregnancy, as it is intended to assist with producing breastmilk to feed your baby. this is regardless of whether a baby was born via a vaginal birth or cesarean section.

The first things to do will be to address any lasting issues with diastasis recti through consultation with a physiotherapist or pelvic floor specialist, work on optimal nutrition and exercise to properly fuel your body, and do your very best to reduce stress. (It’s a tough one, I know)

Unfortunately, after a cesarean delivery, many women still have excess skin, stubborn fat, and prominent shelves over their C-section scars. despite exercising regularly and eating appropriately, most women will not be able to banish their C-section shelf completely and will require plastic surgery.

Often the only way to achieve this is through a procedure called a tummy tuck as part of a mommy makeover, which commonly includes liposuction, abdominoplasty (closure of the connective abdominal tissue and removal of excess skin) and scar revision. some patients will need their belly button relocated depending on how much of their extra skin has been removed, and the recovery period can, unfortunately, be a long time; this is a significant procedure.

In conclusion – Ending up with a C-section shelf is likely, but the prominence of your shelf will differ from woman to woman

The takeaway is that it is completely normal to be left with a shelf or pooch after a C-section, but it’s worth talking to your doctor for advice on addressing some of the common issues that could be making it more significant. Once you find out what might be causing your C-section shelf (excess weight gain during pregnancy or certain foods), adjusting accordingly will make a big difference in the appearance and size of this area on your body.

If you notice an increase in inflammation, try some exercises recommended by physiotherapists for diastasis recti as well as taking care of yourself with good nutrition and stress reduction techniques like yoga or meditation.

Take a moment to be proud of what your body has achieved though – your C-section scar and all that comes with it are a physical reminder that you are a mother. Your body has created life, undergone major surgery, and you now have a baby. It’s something about your body was going to be less than ideal, having a baby is probably the best possible reason.

Carly Wight

Mother of two young boys (6 and 3!) and an avid "Googler", Carly is the kind to research something to the nth degree. Be it about products, hacks, or techniques, she shares what she finds out at her website - Fairy Good Mommy.

Recent Posts