Let me ask you this…have you ever farted in front of your husband? I remember the first time I did. I was heavily pregnant with our eldest, and a loud, earth-shattering one escaped me, seemingly shaking our room and leaving a horrid smell in our wake, one we struggled to escape amid our hysterical laughter.
If you’ve had this moment with your husband, you’re probably not in a rush to recreate it. But if you’ve had a c-section, rest assured, he’ll be cheering you on to let one rip again. Why? Because you can’t start eating solids until you pass gas.
You’ll be allowed to drink water. Heck, you’ll be ORDERED to drink it. And you’ll be so thirsty after the whole ordeal that I promise you; you will drink a ton of it. But food? Nope. Not going to happen until you squeeze one out.
I just learned something fascinating that I only wish I’d known while tied up to my catheter in the hospital bed in China. If you chew gum after your c-section, it can help you to pass that gas and get your systems moving along again so that you can eat.
No, seriously! You can read about that here. Isn’t science amazing?
So pack up some gum in that hospital bag, even if you’re not planning on a c-section. You’ll be glad you did!
In China, they make you eat something call xifan. It’s a simple soup of boiled millet. It’s not horrible, but it’s rather bland. My mother-in-law would always make me eat it, but now, I had no choice. It was xifan or starving. I chose the xifan. If I’d had known gum could have helped me pass gas along faster and get my bowel function back to normal, I’d have gone for it.
So, What Can I Eat After a C-Section?
Assuming you’re not in China and/or you don’t have an overbearing Chinese mother-in-law, you’ll be given ice chips or water after your c-section. As mentioned, you’ll need to pass gas before your doctor sends the nurse over with solid foods. Expect those foods to be pretty tame though. This isn’t the time for that drool-worthy cheeseburger. Stay patient, love!
To help speed things along, once that catheter is out, have your husband and family members take you for walks. These shouldn’t be too crazy or lengthy. My husband would help me walk along the maternity ward, and we’d look at the other babies. We also got to watch ours get a nice cleaning and changing. Walking is useful for helping your circulation and getting things in your digestive system moving along again.
A Few Weeks After Your C-Section
Once you’re all clear to eat solids, you’ll likely be sent home after 3 to 4 days. It’s up to you to eat nutritiously during this time. I know it totally sucks that you might still look pregnant in the following weeks, but give your body time to change. It took nine months to balloon up. You can’t expect it to vanish away.
Plus, you need to nourish yourself, so your breastmilk is full of excellent nutrients for your baby. Make sure your meals are balanced and healthy. I’ll discuss some great foods to eat during this time a little further down.
And Months Later…
If you’re eating right and keeping active months after your c-section, you should be losing much of what you gained especially if you’re breastfeeding. If not, you have to look at what you’re doing. Are you eating more treats than you realized? No judgment! I have been there.
I had to start writing things down in a food journal. It was then that I saw where I was going wrong. I’d use my bad days in China as an excuse to comfort myself with food. My husband would try to help me feel more at home by taking me out to eat at places that felt normal to me, like an Italian restaurant for example.
Once I discovered that pattern, it made it easier to stay on task. Then months and months later, when our eldest was bigger, we went to the Great Wall of China, and I didn’t feel guilty in the slightest eating all the roasted duck I could get.
The Perfect Diet Plan After C-Section
Remember, if you’re breastfeeding, you need an additional 500 calories in your daily intake, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is to help support your baby. Breastfeeding burns calories so you won’t notice it. Now is not the time to create a calorie deficit.
Before I go on, don’t forget to speak to your doctor about a proper diet for after your c-section. You may have health issues that I don’t know about. I’m not a replacement for a doctor. All I can do is give you my best advice so get confirmation with your doctor before you begin any exercise postpartum as well as any dieting.
Some things you need to be aware of after your c-section are that you should be eating foods that ease digestion and bowel movement. You surely don’t want to become constipated and strain your abdomen. It will hurt enough as it is while it recovers. And speaking of that, you’ll want foods that help you feel healthy. They make all the difference.
Good-For-You Foods Post-C-Section
So, you can’t just suddenly go into fitness boot camp or starve yourself thin (not that you should do that post-pregnancy anyway!). What you CAN do is eat healthfully and keep yourself properly active, with your doctor’s blessing.
Sticking to foods that are good for you will help you in several ways. For one, you’ll feel more level-headed with all those crazy hormones. For another, you’ll be nourishing your baby through your milk and the nutrients you pass along in it. And, you’ll have the bonus of making the weight come off a bit easier.
That’s not to say a reward here, and there of food you’ve been dreaming of isn’t allowed. Keep a food journal so you’ll stay on track and plan for a reasonably-sized portion of something you’ve been craving. The rest of the time, focus on the following foods after your c-section for your diet.
Food that digests easily
If you’re not keen on being hailed as the “fart queen,” then I suggest you stick with foods that are easy to digest. Think simple, warm broth-based soups (even just bone broth is ideal), yogurt, or cottage cheese. Take it easy the first few days when the doctor says you can start eating real food again.
I feel the need to call yogurt out here in particular. It’s ideal for restoring the balance of good bacteria post-c-section plus it helps you get plenty of calcium (something else you need postpartum) so pick a flavor you like and enjoy.
A quick word of caution: make sure your doctor has ruled out any dairy allergies for your baby first!
Other low-fat dairy products
As I just mentioned, you need calcium. With low-fat dairy products like skimmed milk and certain cheeses, you’ll get vitamins B and D too. Plus, they taste great!
Healthy whole grains are great for you after your c-section, but with these, you should work them in slowly as your body recuperates. For example, when your doctor clears you to eat solids, it’s not the time to sit down to a plate of whole wheat pasta. Instead, try something simpler, like oatmeal, until you heal a little more.
Protein helps your tissues repair and strengthens muscles, which you could do with after the surgery. Just about anything goes here – eggs, fish, chicken, meat, dairy, nuts…even protein shakes will work. Just remember not to go too heavy on your meals until you have bowel movements that aren’t painful.
Fruits and veggies
As a natural source of antioxidants and vitamins, like vitamin C for example, these treasures from the earth will help your body heal. Plus, they make for good breastmilk. Anything goes in the category of fruits and veggies. You can even blend them for a smoothie.
A critical component in a healthy post-c-section diet is fiber. This helps you avoid constipation which can cause even more agony to you while your incisions are healing. Raw fruits and veggies, in particular, add more roughage. Try them with a dip of Greek yogurt, and you’ll have a healthy and satisfying snack that also happens to be delicious!
I’m sure you’re like, “Duh, Leslie. I know I need to drink fluids!” But I really can’t stress this enough. It will help your bowels get moving and help you with your breast milk production. Plus, you’ll be plenty thirsty, I can assure you.
In China, they only drink hot water. This was something that I had a hard time adjusting to. Part of it is because the water isn’t clean for consumption so you must boil it. They also staunchly believe it’s better for you. If you feel unwell, you’ll likely be told to drink hot water.
Anyway, in the hospital with my eldest, my mother-in-law had boiled me up a thermos of hot water. I patiently let it sit on the nightstand until it had cooled down. I was so thirsty. Just one problem…it was slightly out of my reach.
Seeing me struggle, she hopped up to get it for me, but as soon as she felt the temperature, she told me it was too cold. “Nooooooooooooo!” I screamed out in horror. My precious, room-temperature water! She couldn’t understand why I didn’t want it hot.
Anyway, in essence, eating healthfully with fresh, whole foods is your best diet after your c-section. In the first few days, take it slow and easy and build your way up to heartier meals while still keeping them nutritious.
What Foods to Avoid After My C-Section?
So we all know what smart choices are, and I’m sure you can likely guess some things that are good post-c-section diet choices. But there are some things you may not be aware just aren’t right for you at this tender time. Read on to find out!
- No spicy
Spicy foods can lead to gastric upset. Until you’re feeling a bit more recovered, avoid eating them.
- No fatty/junk foods
They’ll make you feel extra heavy and be harder to digest in the first days after your c-section. Once you start feeling a little less ouchy, you can treat yourself on occasion, but if you want to lose that baby weight, stay away!
- Fizzy drinks
Carbonated beverages can lead to gassiness. Need I say more?
- Citrus juices
Proceed with caution with citrus juices. They could cause irritation. Wait a week after your c-section at the very least before trying a small amount. You can up the amount after more time passes from your surgery.
- Curb caffeine
Habitual coffee drinkers, no need to go through withdrawals, but do keep it to one cup in the morning until your baby gets bigger. The caffeine can get into your milk and prevent that cutie pie from taking those naps.
- Alcoholic beverages
You’ve likely missed your wine (I know I did!), but in the first week after your c-section, you should steer clear. You’ll probably be up for a drink around two weeks later, which, in moderation, is fine. Your best bet is to nurse your baby first and then enjoy a small glass of wine.
- Gassy foods
Foods that tend to cause gas should be avoided for the first 40 days after your c-section. Things like beans, cabbage, and broccoli can make for a painful situation.
- No white rice
I have to tell you the rice is a big surprise here. You can’t have it after your c-section, not for the first four days anyway. With its high blood sugars, it can impede your healing process. Brown rice is said to be better, but I’d avoid all rice to be safe for the first few days.
Other Basic Tips for C-Section Diet
Just a few more things to remember…
- Spread your meals throughout the day as smaller sessions rather than eating three big meals.
- Try to space every time you dine with roughly 2 hours.
- Eat mindfully, which might be tough if your new baby is keeping you busy, but see if hubby can help. You’ll avoid eating more calories than necessary when you consume slowly.
- Get plenty of rest when you can. Have the hubby and relatives help out so you can get a little more sleep. Here I’ve written on how to find out the best sleeping position.
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
- Focus on healthier meals all around.
- Keep active. Even before you get clear for exercise at your checkup, unless your doctor says not to, you can still take walks.
The key to remember with the c-section diet is that you need to take care of yourself. Yes, that sweet little one needs you too, but if you’re not healthy and well, you can’t be there for them. Eat right, rest up, and keep moving and you’ll start feeling fabulous again soon.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.