Throughout the nine months of , you have seen yourself go through innumerable highs and lows – emotionally as well as physically. All those pregnancy hormones create a whole bunch of problems and uncomfortable situations for you. The most annoying of them all is constipation – something you’ve grown rather familiar with during pregnancy. Unfortunately, constipation is a problem that continues for a few weeks after you’ve delivered the baby too, due to a variety of reasons spanning hormones, medications, soreness in the rectal area and so on. But don’t lose hope just yet. We’ve put together a few tips and tricks that will ease the discomfort of postpartum constipation.
We know how annoying those countless pee breaks are, but has water ever been bad for you? Liquids – whether it’s water, milk, soup or a vegetable smoothie – help soften the stools and promote easier passage. If nothing, stick to the tried and tested, age old technique to get your system moving and cleaned up: a glass of warm water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and another glass of warm water just before you go to bed.
When the urge to pass stools finally hits, don’t waste time or delay it. Head straight to the pot. Listen to your body – if it tells you now is the time to empty the system, then that’s what it is. Delaying passing stools can cause it to dry up and harden, making it even more difficult to pass. This, in turn, will cause you to exert extra pressure, which in turn may cause your stitches to tear open and damage your pelvic floor muscles. Avoid straining too much, and just go when your body is naturally ready.
Fibrous foods are your best friends in these trying times. Soluble fibre absorbs water and softens stools, whereas insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stools – both of which make bowel movement easier. Include fruits like dried plums (prunes), blackberries, strawberries, apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, oranges, avocados, peaches and pears; vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, carrots, brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower and tomatoes; beans like black beans, kidney beans and lentils; seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, and nuts like almonds, peanuts and pistachios, along with leafy greens and whole grains in your daily diet.
You don’t have to hit the gym or go out of your way to get in some exercise. A short brisk walking session every morning will work just fine. Regular exercise improves your body’s circulation as well as peristalsis i.e. the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles in the intestine that help push bowels forward.
This is something you should anyway stay away from, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Processed foods have a very low nutritive value, and their fibre content is almost negligible. Moreover, processed foods are infamous for being high in fat and sugar, which can not only slow down your bowel movement, but actually make your constipation worse. It can also cause bloating.
When all else fails, turn to laxatives. Laxatives are medicines that soften the stools and promote bowel movement. These come in particularly handy when you can’t strain your rectal muscles too much. Speak to your obstetrician about your constipation problem, and ask them to prescribe you the right medication in the right dosage. Absolutely avoid self-medication when you’re breastfeeding, and let a medical professional guide you through the safest options.
Try to follow as much of a clean and healthy lifestyle as possible. Avoid foods that further aggravate constipation, such as dairy products, red meat, frozen foods etc. And remember – DO NOT force bowel movement or put too much pressure.
Do you have any tried and tested tricks that relieve postpartum constipation? Share them with us in the comments!