Postpartum hot water stomach massage therapy is a prevalent custom in Africa, and some women claim it’s one way they could lose their tummy fat after giving birth.
The process entails the mother or mother in law who is now the grandma using a towel soaked in freshly boiled water or very hot water to massage the abdomen of a new mom after giving birth. They do this twice a day—morning and evening for up to a week.
Not only is this practice harmful, but it is not helpful.
However, in the traditional African setting, it might be difficult to say No to postpartum hot water massage for the abdomen if your support system is filled with people who have strong opinions about it.
Let’s pause to think about it.
Can hot water melt belly fat?
The answer is No. How does hot water on your skin melt the fat in your inside? Let’s say the hot water even melts it. How does the melted fat leave your body? Does it magically enter the kidneys to be excreted as urine? Does it suddenly enter the intestine to be expelled as a stool? Will it not solidify back few minutes after your hot water therapy is over?
Is it okay to use hot water on the tummy after delivery?
Since the goal is to burn belly fat or help the uterus return back to normal after delivery, it’s safe to say there’s no scientific basis for it.
Hot water can dilate the uterus and result in profuse bleeding, known as postpartum hemorrhage, which can result in you being rushed back to the hospital, and trust me, there’s nothing as mentally exhausting as being in the hospital when you should be at home.
Postpartum hot water massage has also led to some people sustaining burns or being scalded by the hot water.
Some women’s abdomen becomes wrinkly after postpartum hot water massage because of the effect of the hot water on their skin.
You can avoid having this cruelty inflicted on you in the name of snapback.
As the uterus returns to its normal state, the size of your tummy reduces.
God, who designed how the uterus gets big enough to house your baby, also designed how your uterus will go back to its rightful position with the help of a hormone called Oxytocin.
As you breastfeed your baby, Oxytocin is released, and the uterus reduces in size gradually. When you breastfeed for close to 10 minutes, in my experience, you will feel the blood flow out of your uterus into your pad, and this tells you that the uterus is contracting.
Before writing this post, I did a poll about it on my WhatsApp status, and several women shared how it affected their skin, and for some, it resulted in excessive bleeding. So it’s not worth the hassle, please.
What should you do instead?
You can replace postpartum hot water stomach massage with these alternatives.
You can bathe with hot water
A hot water bath helps relieve muscles aches following the stress of labor.
It helps relax your entire body.
It promotes adequate sleep, especially if you’re dealing with postpartum anxiety or baby blues.
A lot of people feel better after a hot water bath. I feel more relaxed after having a hot water bath. You can do this twice a day. The water should be hot enough to make you feel good but not hot enough to damage your skin. Please mix the hot water with cold water until you get a temperature with which you’re comfortable.
Use a postpartum belt
Postpartum belts are safer options than postpartum hot water stomach massage.
They promote fast recovery, improve posture, relieve back pain, help tone your muscles, and if you have diastasis recti, they help prevent it from getting worse.
You can wear it when you’re going out or during activities.
However, some people have reported excessive bleeding with the use of postpartum belts immediately after delivery. So please be on the lookout for this if you’re using a postpartum belt.
Also, using a postpartum belt is the first step in helping you achieve a flat tummy. If you’re not mindful of your diet, your tummy will start bulging out as soon as you stop wearing the belt.
Focus on feeling good mentally
I know you want to snap back with the speed of light, but please be patient with yourself.
It’s bad enough that our mothers think postpartum hot water stomach massage works. But, unfortunately, we are also constantly being pressured by the expectation of society, celebrities, and weight loss coaches.
A lot of factors determine how fast you get back to your pre-pregnancy body after delivery. For example, if you were fit with a flat tummy before getting pregnant, you are likely to return to that state quickly, provided that you are not overeating while breastfeeding.
Your genetics, diet, rate of metabolism, level of physical activity, how much weight you gained during pregnancy, adequate sleep, healthy support system, etc., also play a role in how fast you get back your pre-pregnancy body.
How do you safely and quickly lose weight after pregnancy?
You don’t need a postpartum hot water stomach massage to lose weight after pregnancy. It’s not uncommon to lose up to 5kg on the day of delivery. This accounts for the weight of the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid. However, the weight loss also varies based on your baby’s weight and how much water you retained in pregnancy.
Breastfeeding is hands down one of the easiest ways to lose pregnancy weight, but as I explained earlier, the amount of weight varies from one individual to the other.
Breastfeeding helps you burn roughly 500-700 calories daily depending on your breastfeeding practices; hence, the popular recommendation is that a breastfeeding mom needs an additional 500 calories a day.
To have a steady milk supply and adequate energy, you want to make sure you eat a minimum of 1800 calories while breastfeeding.
With 1800 calories, you can aim to lose 0.5 -1kg weekly while breastfeeding.
A simple way to go about shedding the pregnancy weight and belly fat is to avoid eating for two. Don’t eat after every breastfeeding session. Most times, you’re just dehydrated. It’s normal to feel light after your baby empties your breast. It will fill up again before the next feeding time.
Don’t drink a big bowl of pap and a whole tin of full cream evaporated milk. Likewise, avoid drinking milo and milk, and other sugary beverages before every meal. Instead, eat regular 2-3 meals a day and if you feel hungry in between meals, eat a fruit.
Avoid overeating foods like white bread, pasta, cereals, cookies, and other unhealthy high caloric foods.
Eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats so your cravings and appetite can be well controlled.
These are goods sources of energy to keep the hunger pangs at bay and help with breast milk production.
Common sources include oats, beans, potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, etc.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should be the bulk of your caloric intake. An effortless way to get in your daily dose of fruits and vegetables is to start your day with a smoothie. One cup of pineapple, one finger of banana, half a cucumber, an inch of ginger, a scoop of protein powder or one tablespoon of peanut butter, and two handfuls of leafy vegetables such as spinach all blended makes an excellent smoothie for breakfast.
Add a serving of vegetables either in the form of soup or salad to your lunch and dinner. This will help reduce the portion of carbs you will be eating and help you feel full for longer.
Many new moms are skeptical about introducing fruits and vegetables into their diet because they think it will make their child stool excessively, but it’s mostly a myth.
Suppose you’re hungry in between meals, snack on fruits. For example, eat an apple, a cup of diced watermelon, an orange, etc.
Protein is vital because it boosts your metabolism, keeps you full for longer, and helps hormone regulation.
Common protein sources include chicken, fish, eggs, meat, shrimp, prawn, tofu, yogurt, nuts, etc.
Add a piece of protein to your lunch and dinner.
You can also snack on protein such as a cup of yogurt, a piece of grilled chicken, or fish.
Healthy fat is crucial to your diet, especially when you’re breastfeeding.
Common sources of healthy fats include chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seed, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, avocado, almonds, etc.
A simple way to incorporate healthy fat into your diet is to sprinkle a tablespoon of chia seed into your smoothies, yogurt, or salads. You can also cook your meals with one to two tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil.
Make sure you’re well-hydrated by drinking a minimum of 3 liters of water daily.
Breastmilk is made up of 90% water. So be mindful of your water intake all through the day.
Drink water before meals to reduce your portion, drink when you’re thirsty, drink when you still feel hungry after eating
Sleep is as essential as eating healthy to lose pregnancy weight.
However, getting enough sleep can be difficult when you have to breastfeed a newborn 2hourly.
Rest as often as you can. An easy way to do this is to sleep when your baby is sleeping. It will help your body recover faster and ultimately lose weight more quickly because your body repairs itself when you’re asleep.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to hormone imbalance, so some new moms find it difficult to lose weight despite eating healthy.
It would be best if you also continued taking your antenatal vitamins while breastfeeding.
Check your weight at the same time every week to track your progress and adjust accordingly
After six weeks or after being cleared by your doctor, you can supplement healthy eating with exercise.
More importantly, be patient with yourself. It took nine months to gain your pregnancy weight. So give yourself nine months of healthy eating and physical activity to get back your pre-pregnancy body.
Other questions you might want answers to
How long should I bathe with hot water after delivery?
There’s no specific timeline to this. It would be best if you listened to your body.
If you prefer a hot water bath to a cold water bath, please feel free to indulge, but if you prefer a cold water bath, you can stop a hot water bath as soon as you feel like your old self.
Another prevalent myth is drinking hot water with the hopes that it burns belly fat.
Can hot water reduce belly fat?
Again still on this quest for a magical way to lose this belly fat is the myth that drinking hot water can reduce belly fat. Some even preach that you need to drink it first thing in the morning to get results.
Drinking hot water after delivery does not burn belly fat. Instead, it helps increase your water intake, enabling you to burn a little more calories. Water also has zero calories, so it’s an excellent replacement for fizzy drinks or excessive milo and milk that we are accustomed to drinking postpartum.
Starting your day with a glass of warm water or drinking warm water helps you be mindful of other healthy lifestyle practices that many people incorporate to achieve weight loss.
If you genuinely want to know if drinking hot water helps reduce belly fat, drink it before eating a big bowl of pounded yam for breakfast, a big plate of rice for lunch, and a whole pack of sliced bread for dinner. Of course, this will result in weight gain, so please don’t try it. Drinking hot water does not burn belly fat except when you incorporate adequate water intake with a healthy diet and increased physical activity.
Is it safe to drink hot water after c-section
Yes. Drinking hot water has no adverse effect on recovery after a c-section.
Adequate water intake is essential for breast milk production and the prevention of constipation. The temperature of the water you drink doesn’t matter, to be honest. There’s no scientific basis to support whether hot water is better than cold water.
If you enjoy starting your day with a glass of warm water, please go for it, but if you find cold water to be more refreshing, you can also stick with cold water, especially if you live in warm climates.
Do you have a postpartum question I didn’t address? I will love to connect with you in the comment section.