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Gastrointestinal Problems After C-Section: Types And Treatment

Postpartum recovery can be difficult in many ways, especially if you have delivered through cesarean or C-section. Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea and nausea are among the primary complications noticed in patients who have had cesareans.

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There are many types of gastrointestinal issues (GI) after a C-section and most of them are similar to GI issues after vaginal delivery. The issues could be a matter of time and may go after a few days or weeks, and in rare cases, may persist for longer and need medical attention. Also, not all women may face GI problems after C-section.

In this article, we will discuss details on gastrointestinal issues after C-section. Take a look.

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What Gastrointestinal Issues May Occur After C-Section?

1. Diarrhoea

It is among the most common symptoms after C-section. The main cause of diarrhoea after cesarean delivery could be the use of medications like antibiotics, prolonged labour and strain of the digestive tract and bladder. Antibiotics can affect the gut microbiome, allow harmful bacteria to multiply and thus increase the risk of diarrhoea. On the other hand, prolonged labour can increase your pushing time and add pressure to the bladder, thus leading to diarrhoea. [1]

2. Flatulence

Flatulence is associated with around 20 per cent of C-section deliveries, says a study. Certain foods and early feeding are considered to be the main causes for aggravating gas retention in the stomach. When these two are properly managed, the risk of postoperative ileus (a term given to the obstruction in intestinal function following surgery) can be managed effectively. [2]

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3. Hernia

Hernia is among the rare GI issues that may occur after cesarean delivery. The incision made during cesarean delivery can weaken some stomach areas and hernia may occur when part of the stomach or intestines pushes outward through those weakened areas, thus creating a hernia bulge. Pregnant women with obesity and diabetes are more at risk of hernia. [3]

4. Nausea and vomiting

Pregnant women who are about to undergo C-section delivery, are administered regional or general anaesthesia to make them asleep or block sensations from the abdominal region. Nausea and vomiting usually occur when a pregnant woman is awake during or after the C-section surgery, mainly as a result of low blood pressure or the use of medications. It can easily be treated with methods with acupressure or giving intravenous fluid. [4]

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5. Ogilvie's syndrome

Also termed acute colonic pseudoobstruction, Ogilvie's syndrome is a condition characterised by massive dilation of the large intestine without any mechanical obstruction. It is mainly a result of a preexisting condition or surgery and may present symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain and constipation. Cesarean delivery, especially in women with gestational diabetes or hypertension can cause Ogilvie's due to trauma, stress, electrolyte imbalance, certain medications or cardiac failure. Immediate medical attention is required when the condition occurs after the delivery. [5]

Treatments For Gastrointestinal Issues After C-Section

1. Early oral intake

Oral intake or feeding includes liquids (initially) and then semiliquid, semisolid and solid foods. A study has shown that early oral intake can significantly decrease the occurrence of gastrointestinal complications such as diarrhoea and nausea compared to delayed intake. This shows that soon after the C-section, probably after two hours, a patient must start oral feeding for improved gastrointestinal health. [6]

2. Gelatinous Lactulose

It is mainly a laxative or prescribed sweet syrup made of fructose and galactose. A study has shown that gelatinous lactulose can help reduce mild gastrointestinal symptoms such as pain, nausea and vomiting after C-section, but may not be effective enough for improving the overall bowel functions in patients with caesareans. The study needs more research in the area. [7]

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3. Other methods

Medications such as anti-diarrhoeal and probiotics-rich foods such as yoghurt, pickles and kefir can help improve gastrointestinal functions to a large extent after the C-section. The probiotics, when taken as foods or even as supplements can help balance the gut microbiome and treat GI issues. Hydrating drinks like water and broth can also do wonders in treating the symptoms.

To Conclude

Gastrointestinal issues after C-section can be distressing and may cause a lot of physical and mental health issues in patients. However, the condition can easily be managed with a few medications or natural treatment methods. Consult a medical expert if the symptoms persist for longer or are recurring after a few weeks of the C-section delivery.