What To Eat Before C-Section Surgery & What Foods To Avoid

The experience of motherhood is a remarkable voyage for every woman. Regardless of whether your child is delivered vaginally or by cesarean section, being ready can have positive impacts on both you and your child.

According to the CDC, c-sections count for a little more than 30% of all United States births, and the majority of c-sections are unexpected.

Being prepared for anything is important for any parent-to-be’s peace of mind. An extremely beneficial part of preparing for a c-section is the meal before your procedure. 

What is the best last meal to eat before a C-section? The best meal to eat before a c-section consists of clear fluids and digestion-friendly foods. Eat a light, low-fat, nutritious meal consisting of clear fluids, fiber-rich foods, and soups. Avoid solid foods, sugary treats, and dairy products.

Preparing for your c-section consists of more than packing and scheduling. It involves preparing your body to undergo major surgery and encouraging your body to heal quickly so you can begin enjoying your time post-partum with your new baby. 

What & When To Eat Before C-Section

What and when you eat before your c-section can make a huge difference in your aftercare experience. By following guidelines before surgery, you can eliminate bloating, extended recovery time, and heightened pain. 

Best Foods To Eat Before Surgery

The best foods to eat before surgery are rich in fiber, hydrating, and easy to digest.

Best foods to eat before surgery include:

  • Soups
  • Clear fluids
  • Water
  • Gatorade
  • Juices
  • Smoothies
  • Oats
  • FIBER!

What Not To Eat Before C-Section

Avoid solid foods, meats, or dairy as it will prolong the healing process and result in painful digestion and bloating. Also, try to avoid sugary foods as they lack the nutrients your body needs.

Foods to avoid include:

  • Citrus
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Meats
  • Dairy/yogurt
  • Spicy foods

What To Drink Before C-Section

Drink hydrating clear liquids including sports drinks, juices, tea, and water. 

When To Eat Your Last Meal Before C-Section

It is recommended to restrict solid foods up to 8 hours before your c-section. If your c-section is planned, it is important that in the days prior you prep your body with a fiber-rich, nutritious, and easily digestible diet. 

When To Stop Drinking Before a C-Section

It is recommended that all liquids should be restricted up to 2 hours before your c-section. Fluids up to 8 hours before surgery should consist of clear liquids. 

Follow All Doctor’s Orders

Following all of your doctor’s orders before and after surgery is crucial. By following the doctor’s orders before your c-section, you are preparing your body for a healthy and quick recovery. You are also avoiding unnecessary pain and complications.

By following the doctor’s orders after your c-section, you are setting yourself up for a successful recovery. You are ensuring that you can be there not only for yourself but for your new baby and family as well.

Before Surgery:

Doctors commonly recommend a light diet and clear fluids before your c-section.

In addition to a specialized diet, doctors recommend showering before surgery and cleaning your abdomen and thighs with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) cloths to ensure proper cleanliness.

Doctors also recommend that women do not shave anywhere on their body that is close to their incision site as hair regrowth can complicate incision healing.

In some cases, doctors may have you stop taking certain medications leading up to your c-section date. Removing all jewelry is also a key step in any surgery.

After Surgery:

It is routine for women to spend up to four days in the hospital after their c-section surgery. It can take up to six weeks for a c-section incision to heal. Doctors will recommend strict incision cleaning and monitoring.

It is also encouraged that women use a pillow to add light pressure onto the incision when laughing, coughing, or sneezing to avoid any incision damage.

Light activity, limited lifting, and lots of rest are essential to a successful c-section recovery. As frustrating as it may be to be limited in your activities and diet, it is important.

Slowing increasing your activity level and strengthening your body over time will allow for proper healing. Use proper pain management and cold compresses to reduce inflammation.

Maintaining a fiber-friendly and easily digestible diet helps tremendously in terms of pain, bloating, constipation, and hemorrhoid recovery.

A mother and father placing their hands on the mother's very large pregnant belly.

How To Prepare for a C-Section

Preparing your body for a c-section involves following all of the doctor’s orders. Cleanliness, diet, and hygiene are all important steps in preparation.

Preparing yourself logistically, mentally, and emotionally involves ensuring an organized support system for you and your baby. 

Physically preparing for a c-section includes:

  • Diet – Light, fiber-friendly foods and clear liquids
    • No food 8 hours before surgery
    • No liquids 2 hours before surgery
  • Showering and using CHG clothes to clean abdomen and thighs
    • No shaving abdomen, thighs, or genital area
  • Removing all jewelry

Preparing logistically includes:

  • Setting up child and pet care
  • ASKING FOR HELP!
  • Setting out/packing – comfortable, surgery-friendly clothing
  • Placing pillows around the house for when you come home
  • Set up diaper changing stations in multiple areas
  • Prep meals

Mentally Preparing for a C-Section

When mentally preparing for a c-section, knowledge is power.

  • Ask questions
  • Ask for help and seek out support
  • Relax
    • Practice breathing techniques
    • Listen to music
    • Envision holding your new baby
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Research

What To Pack for C-Section

Keep it to the essentials for you and your baby when packing for your c-section.

Essential items to pack for a c-section include:

  • Toiletries/medications
  • Medical forms/insurance cards
  • Cell phone/charger
  • Activity such as books, movies, etc.
  • Surgery-friendly clothing + nightgown (enough for 4 days)
  • Diaper bag
  • Breast pump/nursing pillow
  • Going-home outfit for you and baby

Pack early, be ready, and focus on keeping yourself relaxed and comfortable. Packing thoroughly and early will help reduce stress and anxiety from the big day.

Related Questions: 

Can You Shower After C-Section?

Yes, you can shower after a c-section. Showering and cleaning your incision site with a mild soap is recommended. Pat the incision site dry without removing any stitches, staples, or glue.

Changing your incision dressing once daily is important to incision health. Note that you should not submerge your incision site for up to 3 – 4 weeks after surgery.

How Long Is Hospital Stay After C-Section?

The average hospital stay after a c-section is roughly 3 – 4 days. This can vary depending on how well the mother and child are doing post-delivery.

Final Thoughts

Women don’t often envision the birth of their child happening via cesarean surgery; however, ensuring the health and well-being of the mother and child is the most important factor.

Preparing for a c-section is a multi-step process and involves acceptance and understanding. A woman’s ability to create and carry life is an empowering and amazing gift.

Ensuring you and your baby’s health and safety is worth all the recovery. Taking home your sweet new baby is always the end goal no matter the birthing method.

Wishing you a safe and healthy delivery, and congratulations on your new addition!