What to Eat after a Cesarean Section (C-Section) Delivery
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What Should You Know About Your Diet After A Cesarean Section (C-section) Delivery?
Why optimal nutrition post-surgery matters
Essential nutrients to help the healing process
Easing C-section-related discomforts through diet
Optimal nutrition and diet after cesarean delivery is important for your recovery.1 As with any major abdominal surgery, your body will need time to properly heal. Choosing foods that have the essential nutrients needed for recovery can help boost the healing process and help keep your energy levels up.2
In the initial hours following your surgery, your diet may only consist of ice chips or liquids.3 Once you pass gas, a sign that your intestines are functioning well, your diet will likely progress to solid foods and eventually a normal diet.3 At this point, it’s important to re-introduce foods slowly to avoid diet-related discomforts such as painful bloating or gas.
Good nutrition and a healthy diet after cesarean delivery are key during your recovery.4 Read on for tips that can help you be on your way to feeling better and healing well.
Foods and nutrients to eat after your c-section
Constipation is a common postpartum discomfort. Your recent abdominal surgery from the cesarean section, pain medications, and prenatal vitamins can all contribute to this issue.5 Aiming for at least 25 grams of fiber daily can help keep you regular.6
Sources of fiber include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and other legumes.
Read more: What You Can Do to Manage Constipation
Protein is essential to the healing process and helps promote the growth of new tissue.78 It also aids in maintaining and repairing muscle post-surgery. Choosing lean proteins with meals and snacks will help you meet your protein needs, while also helping balance your plate.
Source of protein include fish, poultry, beef, eggs, dairy, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
Read more: Protein: Getting Enough and the Best Sources
Consuming enough fluid helps to prevent dehydration and constipation.9 Your body will have an even higher demand for fluid if you are breastfeeding.10 Aim to drink to thirst, and maybe a little bit more.11
Choose water most often.12 Add a splash of citrus, herbs, or sliced cucumber for flavor that can help you come back for more!
Read more: Practical Tips for Staying Hydrated
Iron is important after a C-section, especially if you suffered from major blood loss.1325 Choosing iron-rich foods can help produce hemoglobin and reduce the risk of iron deficiency anemia.14 Getting enough iron may also help combat fatigue.15
Pairing plant-based iron-rich foods with a vitamin C source allows for better absorption of the iron.26
Foods rich in iron include red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and iron fortified grains such as cereals, breads, and pastas.
Read more about iron: What Should I Know about Iron Deficiency Anemia during Pregnancy?
Vitamins A and C, and Minerals magnesium, copper, and zinc
All of these nutrients play a role in wound healing and may be helpful to get enough of while you are recovering from your cesarean section.1627
Vitamin A-rich foods include: Sweet potato, carrots, spinach, cow’s milk, cantaloupe, red peppers, and salmon.27
Vitamin C-rich foods include: Citrus fruit such as oranges and grapefruit, green pepper, kiwifruit, broccoli, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.18
Magnesium-rich foods include: Legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dairy, and green leafy vegetables.19
Copper-rich foods include: Shellfish, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereals, mushrooms, avocado, chickpeas.20
Zinc-rich foods include: Red meat, poultry, seafood, beans, nuts, dairy, and whole grains.21
If you have questions, reach out to our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants for free! They’re here to help on our free to live chat from Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). Chat now!
Top nutrition tips for after a c-section
Eat throughout the day
Having several smaller meals throughout the day rather than a few larger meals may help put less of a strain on your digestive system and cause less discomfort.
As difficult as this may be with a newborn, eating slowly can prevent excessive, uncomfortable gas and bloating post-op.22
Choose nutrient dense foods
Foods that are nutrient dense and will help you meet your daily needs include: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Having a well-balanced diet rich in these foods will help get vitamin C, A, and minerals magnesium, copper, and zinc to help with wound healing and recovery.
Limit refined and processed foods
When you are caring for a newborn, it’s easy to put your needs aside and reach for convenience foods. But often refined and processed foods are higher in salt, sugar, and fats. When these take the place of balanced meals with whole foods, it may lead to feeling more tired, having a longer recovery, and may even be harmful to our health in the long run.2324
Choosing whole, fresh foods will help give your body the nutrients needed for recovery while also helping to keep your energy levels stable.
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!
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For more on this topic, check out the following articles
Practical Tips For Staying Hydrated
How To Minimize Processed Foods In Your Diet
Why Vitamin C Matters for Babies, Tots and Mama