Just like there were steps to take in preparation for surgery, there are steps to take post-surgery. By doing these, you can help reduce your admission time, complications, and better your outcome with your new stoma!

Have a Positive Attitude

Alright, harder said than done. It’s easy for someone to say “lighten up” to you, when they are not the one going through surgery. When I talk about having a positive attitude, I mean looking for the light in the dark. Your pouch may not be sticking, your skin may be getting irritations, but you finally remembered to close the end of your pouch! You may be having pain post-surgery, your appetite hasn’t quite come back, but you’ve walked farther around your hospital unit today than any other. There may be many things to look down on when having ostomy surgery, but finding those small pieces of something going right is how you will work your way through the process of healing. Soon, you may find more light than dark.


We all know appetites are not the greatest in the post-op period. A big, greasy cheeseburger may not sound as appealing as it did before, and that is to be expected. You need to keep in mind however, that the body needs fluids and food to fuel healing. Without these, your body is going to adjust to having an ostomy much slower than it otherwise would.


If your nurse wakes you up at 8am and tells you to go on a walk, do it. Not only does walking exercise your atrophying-muscles and keep those lungs clear and able to breathe, but it also wakes up your intestines! After abdominal surgery, the intestines are slow to start, which makes keeping anything down impossible. Moving helps those intestines get back into their regular routine.

Expect Pain

Unfortunately, part of having ostomy surgery is pain. It is always important to advocate for yourself in the setting of pain. Letting your nurse and doctor know your pain level is key to good pain control. How can they help you if you don’t tell them you need it? A tip for assisting in mild abdominal pain is to hold a hug pillow against your abdomen. It acts as a support, so if you need to move or cough (which may increase pain), it creates security.

With all of the above tips, it is essential to follow the plan you and your healthcare team have created post surgery. This means no sneaking food if they tell you “no eating”, no Olympic level abdominal exercises right after surgery, and getting out of bed when you need to. The idea is to get you back to as normal a life as possible, and although it may seem as if they are pushing you too hard, they only want your outcome to be the best that it can!


-Maggie Baldwin

Patients’ Champion Coordinator


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