A common complaint after delivering a baby (especially after a Cesarean section surgery) is gas pain discomfort. Many women feel bloated with sharp pains that sometimes radiate up towards the collarbone and shoulders. Here are a couple of tips I’ve found useful.
In the hospital we encourage post C-section moms to take it easy for the first 12 hours of so after surgery. Generally a clear liquids diet is ordered (tip: don’t use a straw when drinking, it actually causes unnecessary air to enter the stomach and increases bloating/gas). When you do begin eating foods, start small with easy to digest foods.
After 12 hours or so, moms are encouraged to walk around the hospital floor. Before going for a stroll, I would recommend trying some breathing exercises in bed. Take a few slow deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling through the nose. When ready, convince yourself to get up and walk. Increasing your movement will help stimulate the bowels and hopefully better move things along. Walking will also help relieve any trapped gas in the abdomen.
Another recommendation is to stay well hydrated and urinate frequently. If you no longer have a Foley catheter in place, getting up to use the bathroom gets a point for ambulating, but also emptying your bladder allows for more room in the pelvic area. This means the uterus can contract as expected with less felt pressure and pain.
Medications can be useful as well. Simethicone is commonly used (and safe while breastfeeding) to help relieve excess gas. Generally this medication is taken after meals and at bedtime, and comes in regular tablets, liquid, and chewable forms. This medicine can be found over the counter in brand names like Gas-X, Alka-Seltzer Anti-Gas, or Mylanta Gas.
The first days after the delivery of your new baby are meant to be cherished. Don’t let gas pain get in the way!
Claire is a twenty-three year old nursing student at Arizona State University interested in perinatal nursing. She currently lives in Tempe, AZ with her dog Bella.