• Caesarean section;
  • satisfaction;
  • postoperative early feeding

Objective  To evaluate the effect of early versus delayed feeding after caesarean section on the woman’s satisfaction.

Design  Randomised, controlled trial.

Setting  Tertiary care hospital.

Population  Healthy pregnant women were enrolled for the study during antenatal care visits.

Methods  Uncomplicated singleton pregnancies undergoing a planned or intrapartum caesarean section performed under regional anaesthesia were randomly assigned to either (1) a ‘delayed feeding’ group who started oral fluids 4 hours after surgery with diet introduced at 24 hours; or (2) an ‘early feeding’ group who were offered a regular diet within the first 8 hours.

Main outcome measures  Primary outcome was the woman’s satisfaction measured with a visual analogue scale (VAS) before their hospital discharge. The secondary outcomes were: pain, anorexia, abdominal distension, persistent nausea and/or vomiting, time to the first bowel movement and passage of flatus.

Results  Two hundred women were recruited, with 103 randomised to delayed feeding and 97 to early feeding. The woman’s satisfaction (mean VAS ± SD) was similar in both groups; 73 ± 17 mm in the delayed feeding group and 77 ± 13 mm in the early feeding group (P= 0.12). A statistically significant difference was observed in mean postoperative pain: 29 ± 13 mm in the delayed feeding group versus 24 ± 11 mm in the early feeding group (P= 0.008). No other significant differences in postoperative variables were recorded, and there were no major postoperative complications observed in either group.

Conclusion  Early feeding after uncomplicated caesarean in low-risk women is equivalent in terms of the woman’s satisfaction and the reduced perceived pain.