Chewing Gum to Promote the Recovery of Gastrointestinal Motility After a Cesarean Section

Selena Patrice LeGarde


The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesize evidence from literature that explores the effects of chewing gum on gastrointestinal (GI) motility for women post-cesarean section (CS).  Decreased GI motility after invasive abdominal surgeries, such as a CS, can result in complications including decreased time to lactation, GI problems, discomfort or decreased healing time.  With over one million CSs performed annually world-wide, supportive nursing interventions to improve GI motility can work to better the outcomes and well-being in mothers post-CS.  Research demonstrates that the simple administration of chewing gum after a CS may increase GI motility.  This literature review, including ten randomized controlled trials (RCT), reports primary outcomes of chewing gum on the following indicators of GI recovery: a) bowel sounds, b) flatulence and c) defecation.  Each study addressed the population of pregnant women post-CS, evaluating chewing gum as a potential nursing intervention.  Nine RCTs produced statistically significant results demonstrating improved GI motility in post-CS patients, and one RCT showed insignificant yet supportive results of chewing gum.  These experimental studies recognize chewing gum as effective in restoring GI motility more rapidly than usual post-operative care in post-CS patients.  Additionally, the rapid return of GI motility provided secondary benefits to mothers, improving their healing time and comfort.  This research supports consideration of adding chewing gum as a nursing intervention to improve care for women undergoing CSs worldwide.


Cesarean Section, Gastrointestinal Motility, Chewing Gum

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