Constipation is a condition with difficulty in emptying the bowels. Most of the time, constipation is associated with hardened feces.
Postpartum constipation may be temporary if you hadn’t eaten any food for a day or two before giving birth. After all, if there is no food in your digestive tract, nothing can come out. In addition, if your delivery was via a c-section, it may take a few days for your digestive system to “wake up” and start working normally again.
That said, if your constipation lingers beyond a few days, it may be a result of the type of medications you were given during labor or even after birth for postpartum pain. Some medications, such as those that are morphine-based, can cause your digestive system to become sluggish. In addition, you may be holding in your feces subconsciously for fear of pain if you had an episiotomy or hemorrhoids as you fear either a tear or more pain.
Tips for Postpartum Constipation Relief
For most women, postpartum constipation goes away on its own, but there are a few things that you can do to help it along.
- First, don’t ever ignore a sudden urge to have a bowel movement. Your stool is likely to get harder the longer you wait to move your bowels.
- Up the fiber intake in your diet. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are good staples to add to your diet right now.
- Drink lots of fluids. Try to drink as many as six to eight glasses of water on a daily basis. If you are breastfeeding, your Ob-Gyn may advise you to drink more than that. A glass of prune juice daily may also be helpful.
- Stay active. Although walking may be painful after giving birth, even short walks can help get your digestion system moving.
- Consider a stool softener. Your Ob-Gyn or family physician may recommend a stool softener to make it easier for you to have bowel movements. A stool softener may also be helpful if you have postpartum hemorrhoids.
For most new moms, postpartum constipation is a temporary discomfort. However, if you experience symptoms such as stomach pain, passing mucus or blood, contact your doctor.