Experiencing difficulty in passing stool post-delivery is a very common condition. Some people take the help of postpartum stool softeners. There are many reasons responsible for causing constipation post delivering a baby including hormones, iron supplements, soreness of muscles, stretched muscles, hemorrhoids, and discomfort after episiotomy.
First Bowel Movement After Delivery
Most people will have a bowel movement once in 2-3 days after delivery.
Those who have undergone the episiotomy stitches are more concerned about the first bowel movement. Experts believe, it is quite unlikely for a person to tear the stitches or sustain an injury on attempting the first bowel movement.(1)
A sterile cloth can be held over the stitches or injured area and it can prove to be helpful. It is very important to avoid straining.
Delaying or holding back bowel movements can have adverse effects. It is important to have a bowel movement whenever an urge is felt post delivery.
How to Relieve Postpartum Constipation?
The ways in which postpartum bowel movements can get better are as follows:
- Exercising gently
- Drinking plenty of water and other fluids
- Doing gentle exercises regularly
- Avoiding and holding back bowel movement
- Gently washing the anal region
- Eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fiber-rich food and fresh fruits and vegetables
Postpartum Stool Softeners
Stool softener medications are considered safe for consumption when pregnant or breastfeeding. These can help in making the stool soft and move out easily through the body. They are usually taken at bedtime with a glass full of water.
The postpartum stool softeners are available in the form of tablets, liquids, capsules and syrup.
Products that relieve constipation do not show effects immediately. They must be taken for 1-3 days before expecting any benefit.
Also, before starting any stool softener, their benefits, side effect, and other option should be spoken about with the doctor.
List of Postpartum Stool Softeners
There are a variety of different stool softeners that can be given post delivering a baby. A few of them include:
- Colace Regular Strength Stool Softener: This over-the-counter product contains docusate sodium and is available in capsule form. It works in 12-72 hours and is a gentle way to seek relief from constipation.
- Philips Stool Softener: This product also has docusate sodium as an active ingredient and does not contain stimulants. It contains a daily dose of 1-3 easy-to-swallow liquid gels.
- Dulcolax Pink Stool Softener: This product provides relief from painful stool in 12-72 hours and is available in the form of soft gels. It too contains just docusate sodium. Its 3 soft gels can be consumed a day for 7 days.
- DulcoEase Stool Softener: This docusate sodium-containing product is available in a 100 mg liquid gel capsule containing gelatin. This stool softener should be taken with water and is able to produce a bowel movement in 12-72 hours.
Mostly postpartum constipation improves in a short time after delivery. A doctor should be consulted under the following conditions:
- If the stool continues to stay hard even after taking a postpartum stool softener
- If taking any over-the-counter medication that may interact with the stool softener
- If someone is experiencing rectal bleeding
- If there are accidental bowel movements
Having postpartum constipation is common post-delivery. There are a variety of stool softeners available that can prove to be helpful. Eating a well-balanced diet and lots of fiber-rich food can also be helpful in preventing constipation.