Postpartum Constipation - Reasons And Tips To Get Relief

Postpartum Constipation - Reasons And Tips To Get Relief

Postpartum constipation is a common problem experienced by many women after childbirth. It is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing stools that last for more than three days. The condition can be uncomfortable, painful, and frustrating for new mothers. There are several factors that can contribute to postpartum constipation, and in this article, we will discuss some of the most common causes.

Postpartum Constipation - Reasons And Tips To Get Relief

Causes of Postpartum Constipation

Pregnancy and childbirth can bring about a lot of changes to a woman’s body. One common issue that new mothers may experience after giving birth is postpartum constipation. This is a condition where a woman experiences difficulty passing stool, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Here are some of the common causes of postpartum constipation:

1. Hormonal Changes

During pregnancy, the body undergoes significant hormonal changes that affect the digestive system. Hormones like progesterone and estrogen can cause the muscles in the digestive tract to relax, which can lead to slower bowel movements. After delivery, the levels of these hormones drop rapidly, which can result in constipation.

2. Medications

Many women receive pain medications after childbirth, which can also contribute to postpartum constipation. Painkillers like opioids can slow down the digestive system and make it more difficult to pass stools. In addition, some women may need to take iron supplements to replenish their iron levels after giving birth. Iron supplements are known to cause constipation in some people.

3. Dehydration

Dehydration is a common problem after childbirth, especially if a woman has undergone a long or complicated labor. The body needs adequate water to soften stool and facilitate bowel movements. If a woman is dehydrated, her stool may become hard and difficult to pass, leading to constipation.

4. Lack of Physical Activity

After delivery, many women may be advised to rest and avoid strenuous physical activity. However, lack of movement can also contribute to constipation. Physical activity helps to stimulate the muscles in the digestive system, which helps to move stool through the intestines. If a woman is not moving around enough, it can lead to slower bowel movements and constipation.

5. Episiotomy or Tear

An episiotomy is a surgical incision made in the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) to facilitate childbirth. Sometimes, an episiotomy may be necessary if a woman is having difficulty delivering the baby. A tear can also occur in the perineum during delivery. Both an episiotomy and a tear can cause pain and discomfort in the perineal area, which can make it difficult for a woman to pass stools.

6. Fear of Pain

After delivery, many women may be afraid to have a bowel movement because they fear that it will be painful, especially if they have had an episiotomy or tear. This fear can cause them to hold back and delay going to the bathroom, which can contribute to constipation.

7. Changes in Diet

Many women may experience changes in their diet after giving birth. For example, they may be advised to avoid certain foods that can cause gas or bloating, or they may be encouraged to eat more fiber to promote regular bowel movements. However, sudden changes in diet can also contribute to constipation, especially if a woman is not drinking enough water to help soften stool.

8. Stress and Anxiety

Giving birth and caring for a newborn can be stressful and anxiety-provoking for many women. Stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on the digestive system, leading to slower bowel movements and constipation. In addition, stress can cause some people to adopt unhealthy eating habits or drink less water, which can exacerbate constipation.

9. Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a common problem after childbirth, especially if a woman had to push for an extended period during delivery. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectal area that can cause pain, itching, and bleeding. They can also make it difficult to pass stools and contribute to constipation.

10. Anal Sphincter Trauma 

During childbirth, the anal sphincter muscles may be damaged, leading to difficulty in controlling bowel movements and an increased risk of constipation.

11. Rectal Prolapse 

Rectal prolapse is a condition where the rectum falls out of place and can cause difficulty passing stool. It can be caused by damage to the pelvic floor muscles during childbirth.

12. Ignoring the Urge to Have a Bowel Movement 

Women who ignore the urge to have a bowel movement may find that they become constipated over time. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including fear of pain, lack of privacy, or difficulty finding time to use the restroom.

What You Can Do to Alleviate Symptoms of Postpartum Constipation?

Postpartum constipation is a common issue that many new mothers experience after giving birth. It can be uncomfortable and painful and may interfere with their recovery process. Fortunately, there are several steps that new mothers can take to alleviate symptoms of postpartum constipation:

1. Stay Hydrated 

One of the most effective ways to prevent postpartum constipation is to stay hydrated. It is essential for new mothers to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to help soften their stool and make it easier to pass. Dehydration can cause stool to harden, making it difficult to pass and increasing the likelihood of constipation. It is recommended that new mothers drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day to stay hydrated.

2. Eat a Fiber-Rich Diet 

Eating a diet rich in fiber can also help prevent postpartum constipation. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion as it adds bulk to stool and helps it move through the digestive system. New mothers should incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into their diet to increase their fiber intake. It is recommended that women consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day.

3. Exercise Regularly 

Regular exercise is not only essential for overall health but can also help prevent postpartum constipation. Exercise stimulates the digestive system, helping to move stool through the intestines and prevent constipation. It is recommended that new mothers start with gentle exercises, such as walking or yoga, and gradually increase the intensity as they recover.

4. Take a Stool Softener or Laxative 

Stool softeners and laxatives can be helpful in alleviating symptoms of postpartum constipation. Stool softeners work by adding moisture to the stool, making it easier to pass, while laxatives work by stimulating bowel movements. It is essential to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any medication, as some laxatives may not be safe for breastfeeding mothers.

5. Use a Stool Stool 

Using a stool can help reduce the strain on the rectum during bowel movements, making it easier to pass stool. A stool is a small footrest that is placed under the feet while sitting on the toilet. It elevates the feet, changing the angle of the rectum and allowing stool to pass more easily. Stool stools are affordable and can be purchased online or at most drug stores.

6. Take Your Time 

It is essential to take your time when using the restroom to reduce the strain on the rectum. Rushing or straining can exacerbate symptoms of constipation and may even cause hemorrhoids. It is recommended that new mothers take their time while using the restroom, relax, and breathe deeply. Additionally, it may be helpful to use a distraction, such as reading or listening to music, to reduce any anxiety or discomfort.

7. Massage Your Abdomen 

Gentle massage of the abdomen can also help alleviate symptoms of postpartum constipation. Massaging the abdominal area helps stimulate the digestive system, promoting bowel movements. It is recommended to use circular motions and apply gentle pressure to the abdominal area. It is essential to speak with a healthcare provider before massaging the abdomen to ensure it is safe for the individual's recovery process.

8. Use Natural Remedies 

There are several natural remedies that may help alleviate postpartum constipation. Prunes and prune juice are popular natural remedies as they contain high levels of fiber and sorbitol, which have a laxative effect. Other natural remedies include psyllium husk, which is a natural source of fiber, and ginger, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may help stimulate the digestive system.

9. Avoid Certain Foods

Certain foods can contribute to constipation and should be avoided by new mothers. Foods that are high in fat or low in fiber can slow down the digestive system and cause constipation. Processed foods and fast food should also be avoided as they can be low in fiber and high in fat.

By taking the above-mentioned steps you can alleviate the symptoms of postpartum constipation and get some relief from it.

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Disclaimer: This content is intended for general information only and should not be used as the basis of patient treatment. The given content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or any diagnosis. Always consult a doctor for more information. Our website doesn't claim responsibility for this information.

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