The Odd Way that Chewing Gum May Help Women after a C-Section

The Odd Way that Chewing Gum May Help Women after a C-Section

Recovering from a C-section can be tough, and not just because of stitches. Women commonly experience bowel problems after a C-section because their intestines slow down or stop moving, creating blockages. This condition is called postoperative ileus; it can be misery, causing abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and general discomfort. Revealing a relief for this issue, a report shows that chewing gum after a C-section may help moms pass gas, and you know how good that feels when you haven’t been able to break wind for a while. [1]

Doctors recommend that C-section patients get up, eat, and walk around to help their gut function properly again. But women might not be too interested in food when they’re nauseated, and that’s where chewing gum enters the picture.

Senior study author Dr. Vincenzo Berghella, an OB-GYN at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, explained that chewing gum after surgery can trick the brain into thinking you’re eating. It makes your saliva start flowing in your mouth and can help send signals to the gut to get moving again.

Researchers analyzed 17 trials involving more than 3,000 women and looked at data on how long after a C-section women passed gas. Postoperative ileus doesn’t just affect women who have had a C-section – nearly any major surgery can cause it. One of the first signs that your bowels are back to normal after a procedure is that you can fart.

The women in most of the studies were given chewing gum within 2 hours of their delivery, and instructed to chew it 3 times a day for periods of 10 to 15 minutes.

According to the researchers, on average, women who chewed gum after a C-section passed gas about 6.5 hours sooner than those who didn’t chew gum. The chewers also reported less nausea and vomiting, and regained their appetite sooner than the non-gum chewers. [2]

The chewing gum group farted for the first time about 23 hours after surgery, while non-chewers didn’t fart until about 29.5 hours after the delivery. [1]

Dr. Gabriele Saccone, an OB-GYN at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy and an author of the study, added that chewing gum after a C-section is a simple and cheap way to get things churning in the gut again.

There is a growing body of research that suggests chewing gum after a C-section may help women get their bowels functioning properly again.

“A 2016 Cochrane review concluded that ‘gum chewing in the first 24 hours after a [C-section] is a well-tolerated, simple, low-cost, safe and easy intervention that enhances early recovery of bowel function, improves maternal comfort and potentially reduces hospital costs.'” [1]

More studies are needed, though, to prove that chewing gum after a C-section helps you fart. But apparently, it can’t hurt. Your breath will smell nice, right?

Berghella said he hopes one day he can add “chew gum until you pass your first gas” to the postoperative orders he hands his patients when they’re released from hospital.

But maybe bring your own “healthy” gum. Most of the stuff in the gum you find on supermarket shelves contains artificial sweeteners and GMO byproducts. Either way, you won’t have to chew it long – postoperative ileus usually clears up in three or four days.

The study was published in The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine.


[1] Live Science

[2] Reader’s Digest