Natural Ways You Can Recover From A Cesarean Section
We don't always have a chance to plan for a cesarean section, but if you do, I will encourage you to prepare yourself well for the procedure. There are some risks involved as it is considered major abdominal surgery, but luckily the surgeons are unbelievably skilled - and that is such a blessing. In my experience the more you do to prepare your body (eat well and the right foods that offer the nutrients required for healing) and plan for the postpartum where you will be nurturing both yourself and your baby you will have a potentially faster recovery and less inflammation and better tissue healing.
Up to 70% strength of tissue can be regained in 4 weeks with adequate nutrition. However, keep in mind that remodelling continues for up to 2 years. So spacing out your babies is a good thing.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is for general recommendations only and does not take your individual medical history into account. Please ensure you get the right information by contacting me directly. Please use my suggestions below as a holistic and thorough guideline to prepare (when possible) and recover from your c-section, but seek advice before taking any supplements or making major changes to your usual diet.
What foods should I eat to recover from a C-section?
These foods will support healing after a C-section: start well before, around two weeks, if you have opted for an elective c-section on know that you are high risk with the likelihood of a c-section.
Protein: Is essential for tissue healing. A diet low in protein before surgery inhibits tissue remodelling. So a pretty key factor healing. Focus on Organic eggs, Fish, organic chicken, beans, chickpeas, nuts and seeds. A combination of one or several should be present during each meal.
Vegetables: Carrots, all coloured vegetables leafy and root vegetables. Make sure you have a variation and that your meals are looking plentiful and colourful. I.e. not a plate of cabbage potatoes and cauliflower. Despite this being healthy it doesn't give you a mix of the much-needed nutrients listed below. Aim instead for a plate of purple, green, orange, red etc. 3-6 cups daily as a minimum!
A Bielers Broth is super helpful to prepare for surgery and recovery. So make a big batch and freeze for postpartum.
- 4 cups water
- 3 zucchini
- 4 celery stalks
- 1/2 kg green string beans
- a big heap of parsley.
Chop the vegetables roughly and place everything in a soup pot, apart from the parsley. Bring to a boil and let it boil gently for 10-15 minutes don't let the vegetables start to look pale and overcooked. Add the parsley in the end and mix with a blender. Add a knob of organic butter or tablespoon of organic cream to each serving.
Fruits: cherries (if fresh are available) or dried sour cherries, kiwi fruit, watermelon, green apples, organic berries of all types. Eat heaps, and mix it up. (not my usual recommendation but surgery calls for much different nourishment compared to normal)
Drinks: Carrot juice is brilliant. Add a (substantial) dash of organic heavy cream (if you're not lactose intolerant) to aid the absorption of the vitamin A. You can either juice carrots or lightly steam a few carrots then blend them up into a smoothie type drink. Herbal teas such as nettle, dandelion, tulsi and liquorice tea are great. Make sure you are well hydrated daily, supplementing with coconut water is beneficial as well. Ginger tea is also ideal to ensure you're reducing inflammation and improving circulation.
What foods should I avoid when recovering from a C-section?
- Grains apart from oats and rice
Avoid grains, coffee, alcohol, dairy and sugar because during a state of recovery your body needs high nutrient foods that are easily digested. Any refined foods will cause inflammation and reduce absorption of the high nutrients you get form whole foods.
What supplements should I take when recovering from a C-section?
- High quality cod liver oil
- Prenatal multivitamins
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Before taking any supplements, it is recommended that having a thorough blood test done around four weeks postpartum to check for zinc, vitamin D, iodine and B-12 and other depending on the individual. Being low in zinc has shown to slow down healing and recovery and wound healing. Being iron deficient can cause bleeding. If you need a direct referral for a blood test go here. (I recommend blood tests ongoing in pregnancy and in the 4th trimester!). Cod liver oil can be a good idea to take, but this has to be monitored by your care provider or get in touch with me here. Ideally also a good quality prenatal multivitamin.
Echinacea is also a good idea to boost your immunes system before and after.
Post c-section: After surgery, I recommend supplements to support your recovery and work alongside your medication. You can get in touch with me so I can tailor your treatment plan here, but I have given you an overview here so you can see what is required for the healing process and reduce complications.
Supplements: This is something you will need to be tailored to you directly but here are some key elements that you need to consider:
Immune function: vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, iron, adequate vitamin D has shown to protect wounds from infection, but also play a role in your mental/emotional health.
Inflammation: Bromelain, quercetin, rutin, ginger and CoQ10 have all shown to be anti-inflammatory. Bromelain reduces inflammation AND swelling. Studies show that Bromelain supplementation given postoperative ensured faster healing, reduces bruising and gives patients a better recovery time. Fish oils may also be worth considering once cleared with your medical provider.
Tissue healing: Coenzyme Q10 significantly increased collagen repair after skin incision and also has the added benefit of being a potent antioxidant. Vitamin A, E, C Zinc and vitamin D are key components of tissue healing.
Gut and Bowel function: Probiotics are essential to help re-colonise your bowel and digestive tract and help prevent any yeast or bacterial overgrowth post surgery due to the load of medication that is given post operation.
Food: All the foods above. Now you need to really make sure you're getting enough nourishment to both recover from the surgery AND make milk for your baby.
Additionally to the above suggestions, you can make chicken soup and drink chicken broth daily. The Beilers broth is very helpful for recovery, so make enough to freeze some. Turmeric and ginger is also ideal to have in your food daily. Drinking and eating ginger will also increase healing, reduce inflammation and improves the analgesic effects of the pain medication you will be given.
If you know, you're headed into a cesarean section or are recovering from one currently and feel you need help to support your healing and recovery process feel free to get in touch. I offer support via the phone to help tailor a healing plan and support your breastfeeding journey.
When it isn't an emergency a c-section can be done gently, and with your thoughtful planning you can meet your baby in a beautiful and healthy way - and a healthy baby and a supported and well-informed mother is all that matters in the end. I am here to help.
References: "Melatonin Synergizes with Oxytocin to Enhance Contractility of Human Myometrial Smooth Muscle Cells" | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2730229/ | James T. Sharkey, Roopashri Puttaramu, R. Ann Word, and James Olcese
References: Sepahvand R, Esmaeili-Mahani S,Arzi A et al. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) elicits antinociceptive properties and potentiates morphine-induced analgesia in the rat radiant heat tail-flick test. J Med Food. 2010; 13(6): 1397-401. Agarwal KA,Tripathi CD,Agarwal BB et al. Efficacy of turmeric (curcumin) in pain and postoperative fatigue after laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study. Surg Endosc. 2011; 25(12): 3805-10. KamenícekV,Holán P, Frank P. [Systemic enzyme therapy in the treatment and prevention of post-traumatic and postoperative swelling]. Acta Chir OrthopTraumatol Cech. 2001; 68(1): 45-9. LansdownAB,Mirastschijski U, Stubbs N, et al. Zinc in wound healing: theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects. Wound Repair Regen. 2007; 15(1): 2-16. Schauber J, Dorschner RA,Coda AB, et al. Injury enhances TLR2 function and antimicrobial peptide expression through a vitamin D-dependent mechanism. J Clin Invest. 2007; 117(3): 803-11.
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