What Causes Postpartum Constipation & How Can It Be Corrected?

Postpartum Constipation:

Dealing with constipation after giving birth is not an uncommon thing a new mother faces. Most of the females experience constipation after delivering a child even though they had not experienced it during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids, pregnancy hormones, surgical incisions, and pregnancy supplements can be the reasons for constipation post-pregnancy. These factors lead to damage to the pelvic floor muscles and anal sphincter. Depending on the cause of constipation and steps taken to treat it, the problem would resolve within a few days.

Causes of Postpartum Constipation

Constipation can be due to any of the factors that take place before, during, and after pregnancy.

Some of the causes of postpartum constipation are listed below:

  • Long labor without food, a bowel movement during the labor or enema, might make you suffer from constipation for a day or two after labor. All the mentioned conditions can make the intestines empty and cause constipation.
  • After a ceserean section, it would take 3-4 days for the bowel to function normally.
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause high-progesterone levels that can lead to chronic constipation after delivery.
  • Systemic narcotics given to ease the pain during labor can slow down the bowel movements.
  • Taking prenatal vitamins, if breastfeeding, can cause constipation. Taking iron supplements during pregnancy can also be a reason for postpartum constipation.
  • Delivery through forceps or ventouse method can lead to constipation
  • Soreness in perineum due to episiotomy (incisions made in the perineum) can lead to constipation.
  • The digestive system slows down during labor and in some may continue even after.

In most of the cases, constipation ends in a few days, if proper steps are taken to correct it. The recovery period depends on the cause and how you deal with it.

How To Correct Constipation After Delivery?

Fiber-Rich Diet

A diet rich in fiber is the best cure for constipation. It helps improve bowel movements. Foods rich in fiber include wholegrain cereals, brown rice, bread, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Legumes, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans contain soluble fiber, which when added to the diet regulate bowel movements.

Increased Water Intake

Fluids can help soften stool and make it easy to pass.

Sometime in the hospital due to the dry atmosphere, the body gets dehydrated quickly. Drinking an adequate amount of water is therefore very important.

6-8 glasses of water every day is necessary to meet the water requirement of the body. Also, taking warm water after waking up from sleep regulates the bowel movements.

Prune Juice

Prune also known as dried plum, is rich in dietary fiber. They contain sorbitol which is a natural laxative that eases bowel movements.(1)

Prunes can be added to the breakfast routine. They can be taken in the form of juice or in the hot cereal.

Go For A Stroll

Walking can be a bit painful in the beginning if recovering from an episiotomy or a cesarean. Do it only when you start feeling comfortable. Take short strolls so that the sluggish bowels return back to their normal movements. Try and increase the time by a few minutes every day. Moving can also help in easing gas and bloating. Sitting or lying down for long can aggravate constipation

Breastfeed The Baby

As the child breastfeeds, the uterus is stimulated to contract. It helps ease the bowel movements as well.

Avoid Processed Food

Processed foods such as potato chips, doughnuts, white bread, burgers, sausages and many more may aggravate or may be a cause of constipation. Therefore, these should be avoided.

Do Not Ignore The Urge

Ignoring the urge to pass stool, would keep it in the rectum for long and harden it. A tear or cesarean section could lead to fear in some females and make them restrain from passing stool. If constipation does not get better after three days, consult a doctor. He might prescribe laxative to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract’s natural rhythm. Call a doctor if there is a severe stomach ache, blood or mucus in stool, and severe rectal pain.

Postpartum constipation is a treatable condition. It can sometimes indicate some medical conditions. It can lead to other digestive conditions such as haemorrhoids and therefore should not be ignored.