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Hospital bag

22nd Mar 2024

This is why you should pack gum in your hospital bag if you’re having a c-section

Jody Coffey


Who would’ve thought?

While preparing a hospital bag ahead of delivering a baby, gum is likely very far down the list of essentials for expectant mums.

Welcoming a baby via caesarean section can disrupt the bowels and cause regular bowel movements to stop, according to the Sydney Pelvic Centre.

After a c-section, women may experience feelings of constipation and trapped wind, with the retained gases and stools causing a mum’s stomach to become swollen and painful with cramps.

She may also feel nauseated, vomit, or be unable to eat.

However, studies suggest that the minty confection can play a crucial role in the recovery of bowel function and help relieve these uncomfortable symptoms.

According to Cochrane, gum-chewing in the first 24 hours after a c-section is a ‘well-tolerated simple, low-cost, safe, and easy intervention’ that may help with the early recovery of bowel function, improve maternal comfort, and potentially reduce hospital costs.

In 17 studies with 3149 women who had just delivered their babies via c-section, one group chewed gum, while the second didn’t.

In the group of women who chewed gum, they were at least half as likely to have symptoms such as bloating, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and an inability to defecate as the women who did not chew gum.

However, various factors and limitations were at play because all women knew they were chewing gum, and there was heterogeneity between the studies.

Meanwhile, another study concluded that gum chewing sped up intestinal function recovery after having a c-section.

It was also determined that gum chewing had significant benefits in decreasing the time to the first passage of the flatus, the first defecation, the first bowel sound, the first bowel movement, and the length of the hospital stay.

However, it did not lessen the time until the first feeling of hunger.

According to the National Institute of Health, chewing gum can help because it stimulates the stomach, which enhances gastric secretion and peristaltic bowel movements.

One mum, who welcomed her third child last June, claimed that chewing gum helped her recovery in a post on the Tiny Hearts Education Instagram account.

“Why I packed chewing gum for my c-section,” the caption reads.

“Studies have found that chewing gum can help the bowels to function again earlier.

“Chewing gum for 30-60 minutes, 3 times a day after a C-section was associated with

  • Improved comfort
  • Quicker resumption of normal intestine function
  • Lower chance of an ileus (interruption in the normal intestine function)

“I did this with my third c-section in June last year and found that it helped!”