Postpartum Constipation- Causes And Remedies

4 min read

Constipation is something we may all have experienced occasionally. It is a common problem faced by as many as half of the women in the course of pregnancy. That’s why several measures are taken during pregnancy to avoid constipation. Undergoing constipation during the post pregnancy period is more irritating. The good news is that the issue will resolve itself in a few days if proper measures are taken.
Pregnancy constipation

Why Does Constipation Happen During The Postpartum Period?

It’s somewhat natural not having normal bowel movements for two or three days following the delivery. Your body has been through humongous changes, and it will need some time to function normally. Therefore, give yourself a couple of days after delivery (whether vaginal or C-section) before you begin worrying about it.
First of all, most of the new moms are less active during the postpartum period. This alone can set off a change in bowel movements. Long labor without any intake of food or administration of enema in the course of delivery can also result in constipation as the bowel movements start to work properly only after two or three days.

What Causes Postpartum Constipation After Delivery?

Some other reasons behind the postpartum constipation are:

  • Psychological reasons: Your mind can influence your bowel movements.
    • The scars and stitches from a C-section and/or (if you have had) an episiotomy, a very soft perineum as a result of ,b>vaginal birth or recently developed hemorrhoids can make you extra careful and delay the pushing, mainly due to fear of pain and unnecessary (most probably) worry about putting pressure on the stitches and aggravating hemorrhoids. This eventually can set up postpartum constipation
    • Several new moms don’t like to use the toilet in the hospital mainly due to lack of privacy. Some moms also feel uncomfortable due to unhygienic circumstances especially if they are sharing a common bathroom. They deliberately hold back and delay the bowel movement , which can very well result in constipation
    • Anxiety accompanying the delivery (in some cases) can result in developing postpartum constipation as feeling upset can make the bowel movements slow down
  • Other reasons: Some physiological issues can result in developing constipation during the postpartum period, such as:
    • Hormones: Elevated levels of the hormone, progesterone, in the mother’s body in the course of pregnancy can lead to chronic constipation after delivery
    • Drugs: Medications used to treat pain during labor or to reduce pain after C-section can cause constipation
    • Diarrhea: Having diarrhea during pre-labor or during early labor can lead to postpartum constipation
    • Instrumental/operative vaginal birth: In certain situations, the doctor may go for assisted delivery using instruments such as forceps or ventouse (suction) to help the birthing procedure. This can give the anal region a hard time and bowels will take more time to get back to its normal movement
    • Prenatal vitamins: Taking in vitamin supplements during lactation period, from time to time, has been found to cause constipation. Believe it or not, iron tablets taken during pregnancy can develop and kick-in constipation

How Can Constipation Be Treated After Delivery?

Constipation can be dealt with at home. More often the problem can be ended within a couple of days on its own. Here are some tips and steps that will help you to deal with this situation better.

  • Relax: Usually, the mother feels numb over the perineum especially after a vaginal delivery as the nerves inside and around the vagina are stretched during the delivery. So chances are more that the mother feels almost no pain when she first does a poop. Therefore, alleviate the thought of pain from your mind and relax (try reading a magazine while sitting on the toilet) before trying to poop during the postpartum period
  • Eat well and drink well: Eating foods which are rich in fiber will help to ease constipation. Similarly, avoid refined foods (like bread and other food items made from Maida) which aggravate constipation. Eat plenty of fruits. Increase the intake of fluids as the body needs more water as you are breastfeeding. Drinking a glass of warm water, preferably right after waking up in the morning will also help
  • Never hold back the urge to go to the loo: Despite the fact that it may be uncomfortable during the initial few times, never ignore the urge to move the bowels. The more you hold up, the harder your stool will get, aggravating constipation
  • Get into squatting position: Keep your knee higher than your hip while sitting on the toilet. Keeping a small stool under the feet is a good idea. This will make you sit in squatting position
  • Walk well: Even though walking can be painful if you are recuperating from an episiotomy or C-section, walking slowly for a little while,especially after having a meal, will help to accelerate your bowel movements
  • Take laxatives: Ask your doctor to prescribe some laxatives (stool softeners) which help to regain the healthy bowel movements.
  • Support perineum: Holding and pressing lightly a sanitary pad in front of perineum helps to support the pelvic floor and helps to reduce the pain especially if you possesses stitches

Constipation is rarely serious, but if you experience abdominal pain, straining, rectal bleeding, or you pass mucus or blood, you should get in touch with your doctor immediately. It can be an indication of some other problem, which might need immediate medical attention.

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