When we have a baby, there can often be a few surprises along the way that people don't seem to tell us about.
After giving birth to your baby via a C-section, you might experience postpartum gas and abdominal pain caused by a build-up in your intestines. This is completely normal in the few days after delivery, but can often come as a surprise for new mothers when friends with babies neglect to tell you about this unglamorous baby side-effect!
Postpartum gas can be caused by a lot of different things, and gas pains in your belly can be alleviated at home with some quick home remedies. If you're worried or in severe pain from the gas, you should speak to your doctor to make sure things are all OK, but usually, the pain will pass in the days after your delivery.
Why Do You Get Gas Pain After A C Section?
Gas pain is a very common post-pregnancy experience, and it can cause a lot of pain. The hormone progesterone is produced to support you during pregnancy, which causes the muscles in your body to relax. That means all your muscles, including your intestines, start to slow down, meaning your digestion will end up taking a lot longer than usual. This leads to an internal build-up of gas, causing you to bloat, burp, and fart, often without being given much notice by your body.
You could also be experiencing a higher level of gas pain after pregnancy because of any pelvic floor damage. If you've stretched or torn your anal sphincter muscles you could experience some anal incontinence. Half of all women who injure these muscles will experience a change in their bowel habits. These changes can be anything from anal leakage or bowel urgency to a loss of control of gas, liquid stools, or even solid stools. Most women who experience a C-section will not have damaged these muscles, but if you have had an emergency C-section after trying to give birth naturally, you may be experiencing this postpartum.
Constipation can be another side effect postpartum, and if you are experiencing gas pains that are trapped inside you and are incredibly painful, then constipation could be the cause. In the first week after giving birth either vaginally or via a C-section, your bowel will slow down significantly, giving your body time to rest. Signs of constipation and trapped gas can last six weeks longer or more unfortunately and can cause severe gas pain. This can be recognized by hard, lumpy stools, discomfort in your belly, infrequent stools, and straining during bowel movements. You might feel as though you've not quite emptied your bowels when you use the toilet, but you are not able to.
When you've had a C-section delivery, your doctor might offer you some supplements for your health to aid your recovery. Iron supplements can be another cause of constipation and pain in your abdominal region. Some pain medications that you will be prescribed after the surgery might also cause you to feel bloated and constipated.
The diet that you eat postpartum can also be one of the causes for more extreme gas and bloating during recovery. Healthy foods like beans, whole grains, dairy, and some fruit and vegetables can cause you to produce more gas. Chewing gum, carbonated drinks, and hard candy can also be to blame. If you're experiencing gas when your baby is a few months old, then your diet could be the main offender. If you notice that your gas is much more frequent when you eat a certain food, then it is probably worth speaking to your doctor as you might have a sensitivity to that particular food.
Parents who have given birth to more than one child have been shown to experience worse incontinence as they age. This was discovered during a study by Swedish researchers, who found that women who are still experiencing anal problems more than nine months postpartum would likely have these issues for life if they did not seek medical help.
So how long is postpartum gas meant to last? It can vary from woman to woman, but gas should go away by its self within a few weeks after you give birth. If you are experiencing pains after this time, then it's a good idea to see your doctor for advice or try some of our methods below to alleviate your pain during your recovery.
Please also note that after your C-section incision, you are likely to feel soreness and tenderness for up to six weeks. Bleeding and discharge are both normal during C-section recovery, and these pains should start to go away on their own after this time.
How To Relieve Gas Pain After A C Section
Postpartum gas pain after your Cesarean delivery can often go away on its own, but there are also a few treatment methods to help you get some gas pain relief.
If your doctor recommends iron supplements, ask if you can wait until you've had one or two bowel movements postpartum before you start taking these. This will allow you to clear out your body for a few days after the surgical procedure and should make you less likely to experience gas and constipation in the coming days.
A warm heat pack on your abdomen could relieve some pain and gas.
If you're taking medication for the pain, try switching to ibuprofen (with the approval of your doctor), which might stop any constipation and gas caused by them.
Your body has been through painful surgery, so it's important to rest it as much as possible. Sleep whenever your baby sleeps, and whenever else you can to let your body repair itself.
If you're able, try to get up and walk around for five to 10 minutes a few times per day. This will get your body moving and help you to get your gut health back to normal.
Making changes to your diet could make a huge difference to your gut health if you suspect that your diet is something that's causing you to produce more gas. Experiment with which foods make you feel worse, and try cutting out beans, dairy, and whole grains except rice and onions. You might want to stay away from asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, apples, peaches, and pears too.
Removing hard candy, carbonated drinks, chewing gum, and highly processed foods from your diet should also give you some relief from the gas pains you're experiencing. Switch these out for fibers like bran, berries, green vegetables, and prunes to help your gut health.
It is advised to drink plenty of water, and warm liquids are even better stool softeners than cold water. Drinking herbal teas or warm water between two and four times per day could help you with the gases you're experiencing.
Positions To Relieve Gas Pain After A C Section
Lots of women like to use yoga poses like the 'happy baby pose' to help strengthen their pelvic floor and get things moving in their gut. To do this pose, you need to lie on your back and bring your legs towards your chest with your knees bent. Place your hands on the inside of each shin, and hold the position for as long as feels comfortable, flexing and un-flexing your feet. We don't advise this if you have just had your C-section because you'll need a little C-section recovery time before you start moving around. It's a good idea to speak to your doctor before exercising at all to check what their advice is.
Another yoga pose that could help with gas pain is the 'cat pose' which involves placing yourself on your hands and knees and lifting your stomach gently up. This pose will stretch out any gas bubbles in a way that shouldn't harm your Cesarean incision.
Lifting your knees when you lie down slowly towards your chest will help to break up any gas that has built up inside your body. Make sure not to push yourself if you are feeling pain.
Stomach massages after surgery will give you a lot of relief from the gas you're experiencing. Softly push down while your rub your stomach in a clockwise motion, and you will move things gently along.
You might also want to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles at home, especially if you are experiencing anal incontinence as well as gas pains. At least three times a day, complete eight to 12 contractions of your pelvic floor muscles, holding each one for six to eight seconds. To do this, you just need to flex as if you're holding in a bowel movement. Again, please remember to consult your doctor before beginning any physical activity after a C-section.
When Should You Worry About Abdominal Pain After A C Section
Excess gas can feel like an embarrassing pregnancy side effect, but most of the time it is just a natural part of giving birth. If you experience any severe pains after your C-section delivery, make sure that you let your doctor know, so that they can figure out how to help, and if there's anything that needs to be done.
In some cases, experiencing severe abdominal pain might be confused with a uterine infection. Other signs of this could be abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding that is increasing in heaviness, a fever, and feeling sick or throwing up. Call your doctor straight away if you think this might be the cause.
Otherwise, if your constipation is lasting for longer than three or four days after your surgery, then it's a good idea to call your doctor.
Any signs of anal incompetence should also be examined carefully so that you can have a repair surgery if needed to make sure your body is healing healthily.
If you think you might be experiencing gas because of food allergies or other dietary reasons, then give your health professional a call to work out what this might be.
The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.