It may seem unfair that while your baby may poop a half-dozen times (or even more) a day easily, you have been sitting out a dry spell for what appears to be ages. Constipation can be a real drag — especially if you’ve experienced it throughout your pregnancy and you were looking forward to things going smoother and easier (or just plain) once your baby arrives.
While most new moms will have a bowel movement within three days of delivery — in fact, until you do, many hospitals won’t discharge you — constipation is thought to affect around 25 to 50 percent of women during the first two weeks after delivery. Postpartum constipation is mainly caused by one-two punch dehydration and a low fiber, fresh fruit and veggies diet. Some of the pills that the nurse sends you home may not help either. Iron supplements which are essential if you are anaemic or have low iron after birth are constipating, as well as ibuprofen, codeine, and fast-acting narcotics that are sometimes used in C-sections caesarean deliveries.
Another factor is your mind could be playing games with your bottom. If your perineum is tender (and everyone is after a vaginal delivery), if you have stitches from an episiotomy or tear, or from a C-section, or if you have hemorrhoids, you may understandably be cautious about pushing — and that fear of elimination may set a cycle of constipation. Also, because all of your digestive system (and the remainder of your body) has been through, your works may be truly clogged up not surprisingly. If you still have regularity issues, here are some tips for postpartum nutrition to help move things forward:
Think brown and nothing but brown. From those high-fiber grains which you actually favored while you were expecting to whole grain cereals, breads, brown rice, anything that is made from bran including oat bran, or even flax seed.
Try those dry. Make raisins, figs, dried apricots, and that senior favorite, prunes (now known as “dried prunes” by the less geriatric moniker), your new meal essential. For a nice omega-3 boost, have your dried fruit with nuts — and some additional constipation-fighting muscle.
Go for the fresh. Chew on that crunchy fresh fruits and vegetables and, by leaving the skins on, rough things even more. Eat raw or slightly steamed so that when you bite into them they should still go “crunch”.
Beans beans beans, a hill of beans. You are likely to have an experience of movement, plus less gas than you might have when you were expecting. For this, cook a pot of legumes like lentils or black beans and add it to soups, salsas, or salads.
Get things lubricated. Splash your fish, chicken and pasta with a little olive oil instead of other oils.
Don’t get yourself in a bind. Avoid refined foods like white rice and white bread, and instead go for the (full) grain. Chocolate can also be constipating (such as trading afternoon snickers in for a couple of path mixes), as can bananas (munching instead on a crispy apple).
Flush everything out. Nothing like liquids unclogs, so be sure to drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Some women discover particularly moving a cup of warm water flavored with lemon and drinking it first thing in the morning. Vegetable and fruit juices particularly prune juice, can also assist. Tea and coffee can count on your intake of fluid, but if you drink caffeinated versions, it’s simple to go on them. Caffeine can dehydrate you because it stimulates the liquid (diuretic) to get rid of your body. If you’re breastfeeding, you also need to watch how much caffeine you have.
Use that fiber reserves. Consider some serious fiber supplementation if none of the above works or works well enough or quickly enough. Adding some straight-up bran and/or psyllium may offer the bulk it requires to your postpartum constipation diet. But remember, don’t overdo it and don’t bring your calcium products with them because they can block the absorption of this essential mineral that builds the bone.
Try to take some exercise every day. Even just a short walk with your baby in her pushchair will make a difference.
Don’t take medicines with constipating side-effects. This includes certain painkillers like codeine, so ask your midwife, GP or health visitor for advice.
Act on your body’s urges. Be aware of the pooping signs when they occur. Most people feel in the morning the need to poo, or about half an hour after a meal.
Additional tip: As mentioned, your iron supplements no matter how essential they are for women after delivery can result to worsening the constipation you are experiencing. To wean these supplements off, start adding iron-rich foods to your diet naturally and gradually. Common sources of iron include dark and leafy greens, beef, tofu, chickpeas, beans, seeds such as pumpkin seeds and grains—the fortified one. Studies also showed that teas made from nettle leaves are also an effective anti-constipation remedy.
However, if these things mentioned above does not work well on you, or showed you no improvement of your situation, do not hesitate to consult with your medical practitioner. He or she may prescribe an effective and more importantly safe stool softener and/or a laxative. Remember to not take self-prescribed medications that will help your constipation as you will never know its adverse effects to your body.