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Pregnancy & ChildbirthWellness & PreventionTreatment & Care

Your Recovery: Bowel Function

After surgery, passing gas from the rectum is an important part of your recovery. Your caregivers will frequently ask whether you have passed gas. Passing gas is a sign that your bowels are returning to normal. You may not have a bowel movement for 4 to 5 days following surgery.

DO:

  • Drink warm liquids.
  • Walk outside your room 3–4 times daily.
  • After meals: walk, and then sit up in a chair for 30–60 minutes.
  • Sit upright in a chair 3–4 times daily.
  • Lie on your left side rather than on your back. This will help gas to move through your bowels.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Eat small amounts.
  • Chew your food well.

DO NOT:

  • Stay in bed for long periods during the day.
  • Lie down for 30–60 minutes after eating.
  • Eat gas-producing foods (cabbage, melon, carbonated drinks, broccoli). 
  • Drink from a straw.
  • Suck hard candy.
  • Eat foods that you know give you gas.
  • As your bowel function returns to normal, your diet will change from only liquids to soft foods. Eating small amounts of food, eating slowly and chewing your food well will help with any nausea you may experience due to sluggish bowels.

Exercises to Help You Pass Gas
For patients that didn't have a bladder or urological procedure:

Abdominal Tightening
Gently suck your belly in as if you are trying to zip up pants that no longer fit. Do not hold your breath. Relax. Repeat 5 times.

Pelvic Tilt
Lie on your back with your knees bent (may also be done sitting). Rock your pelvis back and forth using your stomach and buttock muscles. Do not hold your breath. Repeat 5 times.

Bridge and Twist
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your buttock and stomach muscles and raise your hips a few inches off the bed. Hold this position and twist to the left and then twist to the right. Lower your buttocks back to the bed and relax.

Bowel Massage
Massage your bowel by making small circles with your fingers on the surface of your belly, along the bowel. Always move from the right side to the left side. Use two fingers to press down gently into the belly as you circle around. This massage is most helpful if done while lying on your left side.

After Surgery at Woman's: Activity/Exercise | Bowel Function | Bladder Function

After Going HomeConstipation/Bowel Function

  • Drink plenty of liquids; eat lots of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink warm liquids to help your bowels move.
  • You may take a laxative or stool softener if you need it.
  • If you are still uncomfortable with gas pain, avoid gas producing foods and perform exercises to help you pass gas.

Personal Hygiene

  • Wash your hands before and after you touch your incision.
  • Clean your genital area after you go to the bathroom by wiping from front to back.
  • Wash your hands after you use the bathroom.

After Going Home: Eating and Drinking |Bowel Function | Personal Care | Activity/Exercise  | Scar Massage