Chewing gumPregnancySurgery

Chewing gum aids bowel motility after caesarean

 Researchers from Ain Shams University, in Cairo, Egypt report it’s safe, well tolerated, and associated with rapid resumption of intestinal motility and shorter hospital stay.

First, the details.

  • 200 women were randomly assigned to a treatment group after caesarean section.
    • Group A received 1 stick of sugarless gum for 15 minutes every 2 hours.
    • Group B had traditional management (clear fluids allowed after passage of flatus and a regular diet after the first bowel movement).
  • Time to first hearing of normal intestinal sounds, flatus, bowel movement, and length of hospital stay were recorded.

And, the results.

  • The average duration of surgery was significantly longer in the gum group.
  • Yet, the time to first events was significantly shorter with cesarean vs traditional therapy.
    • Return of normal intestinal sounds (11 vs 16 hours)
    • Passing flatus (18 vs 24 hours)
    • Defecation (20 vs 30 hours)
    • Discharge from the hospital (41 vs 51 hours)
  • Severe ileus (blockage of the intestine) occurred in 1 woman receiving traditional treatment.
  • Gum chewing was well tolerated.

The bottom line?
This appears to be the only study of chewing gum following caesarean section. However, another study reported that chewing gum may enhance intestinal recovery following colectomy.

Those authors thought that gum chewing might act as a kind of “sham feeding” that stimulates the digestive system, triggering the release of gastrointestinal hormones, saliva, and secretions from the pancreas, ending with a bowel movement.

6/21/09 19:22 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.