Postpartum constipation: why it comes and what to do

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Postpartum constipation

La constipation it is common in the postpartum period, particularly in the first few days after the baby is born. After Natural childbirth - due to a possible episiotomy - and after the Caesarean section - due to the stitches - it may be difficult to pass the body easily. So let's see what can be done to address the postpartum constipation.

In this article

  • Causes of constipation
  • What laxatives can you take?
  • Constipation after Caesarean delivery. What to do?
  • Postpartum intestine
  • Postpartum meteorism. Remedies
  • What to eat after childbirth to avoid constipation
  • Constipation while breastfeeding what to do?
  • When to worry?

Causes of constipation

Constipation is most common in the first few days after giving birth. But the data show that many women suffer from constipation for three to six months after childbirth, sometimes up to a year.

Among the main ones causes of postpartum constipation we remember:

  • Stress to the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles;
  • Hemorrhoids;
  • Pain at the site of the episiotomy;
  • Effects of pregnancy hormones and iron supplementation;
  • Lazy bowel from pain medication
  • Empty stomach due to fasting during labor
  • Prolonged labor
  • Weight of the baby at birth.

What laxatives can you take?

Laxatives can be:

  • bulk-forming laxatives (such as bran, psyllium and methylcellulose): increase the weight and water content of the stool to facilitate bowel movement;
  • osmotic laxatives (such as lactulose and polyethylene glycol) which add water to the colon to improve bowel movement;
  • stimulant laxatives (such as bisacodyl, castor oil and senna), which work by irritating the intestinal wall.

During pregnancy and after childbirth, it is advisable to try over-the-counter mass-forming laxatives, such as psyllium and methylcellulose, or osmotic laxatives, such as bisacodyl, senna, or castor oil, as a first attempt. Before taking any product it is important to consult with your doctor.

Read also: Postpartum Hemorrhoids

Constipation after Caesarean delivery. What to do?

It is not so uncommon to suffer from constipation after the cesarean, especially if you lived with this disorder before pregnancy. The intestine is also called "second brain " and can, therefore, suffer the effects of what is a real surgical operation. In addition, the presence of stitches and postpartum pain can make going to the bathroom even more difficult.

Postpartum intestine

During post partum, many things can happen as the body tries to return to normal. One of the most common ailments in this phase is precisely a constipation, caused, as we have seen, by several factors: theintestine, compressed due to the size of the uterus, it will take a few days after the birth of the baby to return to its normal functions, but in the meantime, hormonal changes, medications, the effects of labor or cesarean delivery and much more can favor the onset of constipation.

Postpartum meteorism. Remedies

Constipation is also closely connected to meteorism, that is the formation of intestinal gas that gives a heavy sensation of bloating. To limit the problem, start from the diet, avoiding those products that can ferment and cause bloating (carbonated drinks, for example, but also too many legumes).

What to eat after childbirth to avoid constipation

Here are some tips on nutrition.

  • Drink a lot of water to soften the stool and to balance bowel movements: prefer, therefore, foods rich in water such as fruit, salads, soups and obviously drink at least 2 liters of water a day (which reaches 3 if you are breastfeeding). Avoid diuretic foods such as salty or caffeinated foods;
  • increases the consumption of soluble fiber - such as plums, pears, apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums and watermelons - and insoluble fibers or bulk-forming laxatives, such as bran, psyllium, methylcellulose and flaxseed, which can be added to yogurt, smoothies and salads.

Soluble and insoluble fiber work well together: soluble fiber causes water to reach the colon, helping to soften stool and promoting bowel movement; at the same time the insoluble fibers increase the water content of the stool, and, combined with light physical activities or walks, can favor intestinal transit.

Constipation while breastfeeding what to do?

We follow one Healthy diet, balanced and correct that is useful both for the production of milk, so nutritious and important for the baby, and for the mother. Fibers, lots and lots of water, a little physical movement are the main rules. And let's not forget to rest and take some relaxing moments for us (just a few minutes!) Because constipation is also closely connected to stress.

When to worry?

Constipation that lasts four to five days after delivery, if it is stubborn and severe and if it is accompanied by constant pain, severe swelling and vomiting, should be reported to the doctor.


  • Cochrane Library

  • postpartum recovery
  • constipation
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