C-section healing foods
C-section births are on the rise and good nutritional status is vital post-birth, yet it is often an area that is completely overlooked. Here are some simple tips and reminders of what is helpful to add into your daily or weekly routine to support healing following a C-section:
1. Make sure you're drinking enough water
Preventing dehydration is an important part of any wound healing process. Without proper hydration, damaged tissue will not receive the oxygen and nutrients needed. Lack of moisture at the site of the wound can also delay the wound healing process.
Hydration also supports healthy bowel movements which can be disturbed through surgery. If you are struggling with constipation, then as well as more fluids, consider adding more fibre-rich foods (vegetables, fruit, whole-grains) and a post-natal probiotic supplement or fermented foods such as kefir, miso, sauerkraut or kimchi.
2. Ensure adequate protein intake
The body cannot rebuild tissue without protein and low protein status has been linked to poor wound healing. Don’t worry about weighing your protein but do ensure that each meal and snack has a portion of healthy protein included such as chicken, red meat, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes.
Protein is also needed for collagen formation which is a key structural protein needed for rebuilding tissue. Bone broth is rich in collagen so is a great addition to support the healing process after a C-section.
3. Increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to promote wound healing by several mechanisms and may reduce infection during the healing process. The best sources include oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and herring. Flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also rich in Omega-3.
Antioxidants are needed for ensuring a healthy and balanced inflammatory response. Focus on lots of vegetables, salad and fruit to make your meals diverse. Try and eat the rainbow!
4. Consider your vitamins and minerals intake
Vitamin C levels fall rapidly when we have tissue damage or inflammation, and low levels are associated with delayed healing. Vitamin C has a key role in collagen production for rebuilding tissue too. Good sources include: berries, citrus, red pepper, leafy greens, Kiwi fruits, parsley and papaya.
Zinc helps maintain the durability of skin, improves skin healing and helps with a balanced inflammatory response to injury. Good sources include: red meat, seafood, chickpeas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. It is hard to get a therapeutic dose of zinc through food alone, so it might be worth considering a post-natal multi-nutrient with zinc.
Iron deficiency can impair wound healing and iron loss may be significant during C-section delivery. If you think you may be low, consider visiting your GP to get your levels checked and supplement if needed. Focus on including a variety of iron rich foods daily such as fish, leafy greens, legumes, red meat, pumpkin seeds, beetroot and dried apricots.
5. Consider a post-natal multivitamin
Consider a good quality post-natal multivitamin and mineral supplement to provide all of the base line nutrients needed during this demanding 4th trimester, and for supporting healing.
Food and nutrition are the very foundations of good health. Ensuring your body has what it needs during this time will not only help you heal better, it can also provide more energy, improve mood and allow you to feel your best.