The Surprising Reason You Should Chew Gum After a C-Section

chewing gum
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If you delivered your baby via C-section, you likely got a lot of special instructions from your doctor on how to make your recovery go as smoothly as possible -- but "chew gum" probably wasn't on the list. According to a recent analysis, however, maybe it should have been: research shows chewing gum for 30 minutes, three times a day can help a new mom's digestive system get back to normal by helping them to achieve an essential -- if somewhat indelicate -- milestone: farting!

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As you may or may not be aware, the first time a woman passes gas after having a C-section is a very important moment because it's a sign that the bowels are back to functioning properly. Doctors monitor new moms for this, um, achievement, because one in five women develop something called "postoperative ileus" (when a person's bowels, which move food through the system, slow down or stop entirely).

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Postoperative ileus usually goes away by itself three or four days after a person has surgery, but in the meantime it can cause extremely unpleasant symptoms, like nausea, abdominal pain, and bloating (nothing a new mom wants to deal with, in other words). To help it go away faster, doctors sometimes recommend that moms try to walk around and/or eat soon after giving birth -- but this advice isn't always easy to follow, as many women feel too sore to move and too queasy to eat. 

This, apparently, is where the miracle of chewing gum comes in. Gum can trick the body into thinking it's eating by activating the salivary glands, which then send a signal to the gut. And it seems to really work: The researchers found that, on average, moms who chewed gum passed gas about 6.5 hours sooner than those who didn't.

Wow! It might not sound like much, but when you're feeling like a balloon that's ready to pop, those hours probably make a world of difference. And what's great about this remedy, as doctors have noted, is that there are absolutely no side effects -- plus, it's just about the cheapest kind of medicine you can get! Even if it doesn't work for you, it's not like it can hurt.

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Sometimes, it seems, simple solutions truly are the best. And it's nice to know that some medical issues actually can be resolved through non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical means. Here's hoping this new info will bring many moms some much-needed relief!

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