Nutrition management after a c-section

Woman pouring water from bottle to glass

In the initial hours following your surgery, your diet may only consist of ice chips or liquids. 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. At this point, it’s important to re-introduce foods slowly to avoid diet related discomforts such as bloating or painful gas.

Good nutrition is key during your recovery. The Dietary Guidelines and My Plate are the best guides for an optimal diet

A healthy diet can help with the healing process and recovery post surgery. Remember to include:

  • Fiber – Constipation is a common discomfort postpartum. Your recent abdominal surgery, pain medications and prenatal vitamins can all contribute to constipation. Aiming for at least 25 grams of fiber daily can help keep you regular. Sources of fiber include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and other legumes.
  • Protein – Protein is essential to the healing process and helps promote the growth of new tissue. It also aids in maintaining muscle post-surgery. Choosing lean proteins with meals and snacks will ensure that you are adequately meeting your protein needs, while making the most nutritious choices.
  • Fluid – Consuming enough fluid helps to prevent dehydration and constipation. Your body will have an even higher demand for fluid if you are breastfeeding.
  • Iron – Iron is important after a C-section, especially if you suffered from major blood loss. Choosing iron-rich foods can help produce hemoglobin and reduce the risk of iron deficiency anemia. Sufficient iron stores may even help combat fatigue.

What to Do

Eat throughout the day

Having several smaller meals throughout the day rather than a few larger meals can help your digestive system recover, while easing related discomforts.

Eat slowly

As difficult as this may be with a newborn, eating slowly can prevent excessive, uncomfortable gas and bloating post-op.

Choose nutrient dense foods

Eating in line with the Dietary Guideline and My Plantewill ensure that you are making the best food choices to promote recovery while optimizing postpartum nutrition. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products and healthy fat sources.

Limit refined and processed foods

When you are caring for a newborn, it’s easy to put your needs aside and reach for certain types of foods simply because they are more convenient. But consuming too many refined and processed foods means we may be eating too much salt, sugar, and fat, all of which can be harmful to our health.

Choosing mostly fresh foods instead will limit your exposure to undesirable additives, while also helping to keep your postpartum energy levels stable.

Eat more fiber

Aim for at least 25 grams of fiber daily from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and other legumes.

Stay hydrated

Your postpartum fluid needs may be as high as 13 cups daily (especially important if you are breastfeeding). Water in its pure form is best. Optimal hydration can prevent constipation, maintain energy levels, and has a role in breast milk production.

Choose iron and Vitamin C-rich foods

Choosing iron-rich foods may help restore hemoglobin levels, which sometimes drop with surgical blood loss. Pairing plant based iron-rich foods with a Vitamin C source allows for better absorption of the iron.

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.Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits like oranges, broccoli, peppers, melons, kiwi, and tomatoes.

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