Ekaterina-Pokrovsky/Shutterstock, StockLite/ShutterstockMoms-to-be should start adding chewing gum to their pre-packed hospital bags. It’s especially helpful after giving birth via cesarean section, which nearly one in three women do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Don’t miss the c-sections myths pregnant women should know.)
According to an analysis of 17 studies that was published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, new mothers who chewed gum soon after delivering via cesarean section started experiencing recovery, particularly of bowel function, sooner than those who didn’t.
For the study, a team of researchers from Italy and Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia analyzed data involving more than 3,000 women who delivered their baby by C-section. Those who chewed gum right after delivery and then again in 30-minute increments three times a day until they passed gas (a sign of normal gastrointestinal functioning), experienced normal bowel movements, and regained their appetite sooner than their non-gum chewing counterparts. They also reported less nausea or vomiting.
“As a simple, generally inexpensive intervention, providers should consider implementing cesarean postoperative care with gum chewing,” wrote researchers in the study.
Gastrointestinal issues are one of the potential recovery symptoms. In a cesarean, the infant is removed from the mother’s body through a surgical incision in her abdomen and uterus; this is sometimes a planned delivery method based on the mother’s health and pre-existing medical conditions, or is done as an emergency method if problems arise during labor.