What to Eat After a C-Section: 10 Foods to Support Recovery

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The Cheat Sheet: 10 Foods to Support Your C-Section Healing

  • Leafy greens
  • Avocado
  • Bone Broth
  • Carrots
  • Citrus
  • Chia Seeds
  • Lentils
  • Coconut Water
  • Salmon
  • Berries

My Postpartum Nutrition Journey

There is a lot of information out there about eating healthy during pregnancy, and with the exception of a few too many bowls of Fruity Pebbles, I think I did a pretty good job of making nutrition a priority. I limited my caffeine intake, ate a lot of fruits and veggies, avoided processed meat–all the things we’re told to do by our OBs. 

What I hadn’t thought about was what my nutritional needs would be postpartum. My baby was born via an unplanned cesarean, and as a first-time mom, the added element of recovering after a c-section while also caring for a newborn was incredibly overwhelming.

When my doula came to visit a couple of days after my baby’s birth, I asked her for advice on how to speed up my recovery so I could enter parenthood full throttle. To my surprise, the first thing she mentioned was what to eat after a c-section, and she provided several great resources.

Even as someone with a Masters degree in Nutrition Education, I was so grateful for that information! Ultimately, I couldn’t control how my baby arrived, but it felt empowering to know that I had a say–through proper nutrition–in how my body healed.

Join me as I share the top 10 foods to support your c-section recovery!

Why Trust Us

This article was researched and written by Kathleen Perry. Kathleen has an M.S. in Nutrition Education and eight years of experience in the field of food and nutrition. She is the owner and author of the blog, Preggo Kitchen, where she shares original recipes created specifically for supporting women during each stage of pregnancy. This article was edited and fact-checked by Sarah Creel, PhD.

Why is Nutrition Important for Your C-section Recovery?

Any kind of surgery takes a major toll on your body, and healing requires a lot of energy. Combined with sleep deprivation and the extra energy that your newborn requires, you are asking your body to do a lot while it heals, perhaps more than you’ve ever asked of it before. 

Good nutrition can give your body the energy to do all of these things, and it can provide essential vitamins and minerals to help heal the damaged nerves and muscles, replace the blood cells you’ve lost, guard yourself against infections, and more.

Foods to Eat During C-section Recovery

This list of foods is a great resource for any mamas (or mamas-to-be) who are looking for ways to help their body recover naturally after a C-section:

1. Leafy Greens

Greens like spinach, kale, and collards are great sources of Vitamin K, a nutrient that promotes blood clotting at the site of your incision.

2. Avocado

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so pairing your leafy greens with a food high in healthy fat like avocado can increase the absorption of Vitamin K to provide maximum benefits.

3. Bone Broth

Bone broth contains protein in the form of collagen, a nutrient that plays a significant role in wound healing. If you’re not ready for particularly heavy foods, bone broth is something that provides a lot of vitamins and minerals while being easy on the stomach.

4. Carrots

Just a half cup of carrots provides over 100% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, another nutrient that promotes wound healing. It does this by helping the epithelial cells (the cells that cover the surface of your body) repair and regenerate.

5. Citrus

Vitamin C is an overall powerhouse of a nutrient, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are a great way to get it. Similar to bone broth, Vitamin C helps your body create collagen, which is important for wound healing. It also boosts your immune system, decreasing your chances of getting sick while you focus on your recovery and your new baby.

6. Chia Seeds

It’s very common to experience bloating and constipation after having a C-section, which in addition to being super uncomfortable, can also put pressure on your incision. Fiber can be really helpful for keeping things moving. Chia seeds contain a lot of fiber, and it’s easy to incorporate them into a variety of foods. Make sure to drink plenty of water with high- fiber foods to avoid constipation.

7. Lentils

It’s really important to get enough iron after your cesarean because it replaces the blood cells that were lost during surgery. Lentils are high in iron, and they are also high in protein and fiber, two other helpful post-cesarean nutrients.

*Note: if you aren’t used to a high fiber diet, don’t overdo it with your lentil consumption. Lentils can cause stomach pain and gas if consumed in high quantities.

8. Coconut Water

Surgery can cause your electrolytes to become unbalanced, so it’s really important to replenish those. Electrolytes help with wound healing and repairing damaged tissue, and they also help flush anesthesia out of your body. Coconut water is also great for helping you stay hydrated and preventing constipation.

9. Salmon

Salmon wears a lot of hats when it comes to C-section recovery. It’s a great source of protein, which is an essential nutrient for repairing damaged tissue and helping your body make new blood cells. It also contains both Vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids to help with wound healing.

10. Berries

Surgery can cause inflammation around your incision. Eating anti-inflammatory foods like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries is a natural way to reduce redness and swelling. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, berries are also high in Vitamin C and immune boosting antioxidants to keep you healthy while you heal.

Incorporating These Foods into Your Postpartum Diet

All of these foods are great to eat on their own, but there are a lot of different ways you can incorporate them into your diet!

During my recovery I was all about the three S’s: Smoothies, salads, and soups. These were my favorite meals because they were easy on my stomach while also giving me a lot of bang for my buck in terms of nutrients. For example, oranges and frozen berries blended with coconut water make a super hydrating smoothie, and a spinach salad with avocado dressing pairs really well with baked salmon. For a comforting meal, chicken noodle soup with carrots and bone broth is a great go-to.

Caring for a newborn can make it hard to remember the importance of caring for your recovering body, so keeping this list in a handy place can make prioritizing nutrition a little bit easier. 

The healing process may seem daunting, but don’t forget all of the amazing things your body has already accomplished. You’ve got this!

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