Some issues that plague women during pregnancy can reemerge in the postpartum period also. One such recurring issue during the postpartum period is constipation. The postpartum period is also the time the mother breastfeeds her baby. Even though several medicines can relieve constipation, you should make sure that the medicines that are used would not pass through the breast milk to the baby. There are many herbs that help relieve constipation. Senna is one of the many herbs that act as a laxative and relieve constipation. But is it safe to use Senna during breastfeeding? Continue reading to find out.
senna during breastfeeding

  • Causes Of Constipation In Breastfeeding Women
  • What is Senna?
  • What Are The Health Benefits Of Senna?
  • When To Avoid Senna?
  • Is It Safe To Consume Senna During Breastfeeding?

Causes Of Constipation In Breastfeeding Women

Several factors can lead to constipation in breastfeeding women. Some of them are:

  • Medication after delivery
  • Insufficient intake of fluid
  • Lack of dietary fiber
  • C-Section delivery
  • Decreased physical activities
  • Fear of perineal pain from stitches in case of vaginal delivery
  • Fearing of tearing of stitches
  • Hemorrhoids

It is advisable to try and relieve the constipation naturally before using a laxative if you are breastfeeding.

What is Senna?

Senna is a flowering plant that belongs to the legume family. Since ancient times, almost all the parts including the leaves, fruit, roots, and seeds of this shrub are used to make medicines. Pods are also used, but are less effective than leaves and seeds.
A laxative is derived from the leaves and seeds of the Senna herb. In fact, Senna gets a green signal from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as an over the counter laxative.
Senna contains chemicals called sennosides. It is this chemical that will irritate the lining of the intestine, which brings out a laxative effect. Senna fruit is found to be gentler than Senna leaf.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Senna?

Some of the health benefits of Senna are:

  • Beautifies skin and hair: The antibacterial property of Senna can help in treating skin issues. The paste made from Senna leaves is effective in treating skin infections like acne as well as inflammatory conditions like eczema.Preparing a hair pack by mixing the Senna powder with water and yogurt, and applying it on the scalp hair and helps to attain smooth, shiny, and strong hair. Senna not only make your hair beautiful but also make the condition of the scalp better and prevent the attack of dandruff. Being an excellent conditioning herb, it can prevent the hair loss also.
  • Treating intestinal worms: The laxative properties of Senna make it an excellent option in the treatment of intestinal worms
  • Oral health: Chewing Senna leaf helps to cure mouth infections and gingivitis
  • Treating digestive issues: Senna, when consumed with cardamom, ginger, peppermint, and fennel, helps to reduce the gas formation in the stomach
  • Helps to lose weight: It aids in the eradication of toxins and undigested food in the large intestine. This cleansing and detoxification aids proper absorption of nutrients and ideal metabolism, bring about weight loss
  • Treating hemorrhoids: Senna is very effective in the treatment of hemorrhoids. Senna helps to reduce swelling and clear the way for speedy healing. Besides, as it promotes soft stools, it helps in bringing down the pressure that the stool puts on anal lacerations during defecation

senna and breastfeeding

When To Avoid Senna?

Intake of Senna is not recommended, if:

  • You are experiencing abdominal pain: If you are suffering from abdominal cramps, diarrhea, or intestinal obstruction, you are not recommended to take Senna as it increases abdominal cramps
  • You are taking heart medication: It may interact with heart medications in the light of the fact that it lowers the potassium levels. Potassium is needed for normal heartbeats. Incredibly low potassium levels can be life threatening
  • You are using a blood thinner: If taken along with blood thinners, Senna increases the chances of bleeding
  • You are taking other laxatives: If taken with other laxatives it will increase the risk of gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea etc
  • You are taking diuretics: Senna interacts with diuretics, the drugs that remove excess water from the body, giving rise to excessive dehydration
  • You are prone to electrolytic imbalance: Long term or high dose of Senna can give rise to electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes, which include sodium and potassium, are necessary to balance the body’s fluid levels

Is It Safe To Consume Senna During Breastfeeding?

Senna and its usage during the time of breastfeeding have always been a debatable topic. Short-term use of Senna while breastfeeding is acceptable as only negligible amount of sennosides, the chemical which gives the laxative property to Senna, will get into the Breast milk. So it will not cause any problem to the nursing baby. However, make sure the recommended dosage does not exceed or else it may lead to complications. Likewise, long-term use of Senna can create issues to both mother and child.

  • Long term use of Senna increases the risk of muscle weakness, heart issues and can damage the liver. Never use it more than two weeks under any circumstances
  • Excess consumption of Senna can irritate the lining in the stomach and lead to laxative dependency

In short, having Senna in a limited dose for a short term will not cause much harm. Even then, it is better to ask your doctor before consuming Senna. Also, if you notice any symptoms of loose stools or diarrhea, immediately stop the usage of Senna.