Constipation During Pregnancy & While Breastfeeding

Published on April 30, 2016

No matter how happy you are to be pregnant, some of the things pregnancy does to your body can be pretty troublesome. Like constipation. When you’re pregnant, your body produces more of the female hormone progesterone. Progesterone helps to relax the womb, but also the bowel muscles – which are also increasingly squeezed by the growing womb. Combined with iron supplements and the stress of pregnancy, this can soon lead to constipation and even pain on the toilet.

Constipation in Pregnancy and Birth

If possible, try to add some fibre to your diet and drink fluids regularly. You could also ask your partner for a gentle stomach massage. If all of these efforts are unsuccessful, speak to your doctor about a laxative suitable during your pregnancy. You should be enjoying the experience of having a baby, not worrying about discomfort on the toilet!
After giving birth: constipation

If you continue taking iron supplements after giving birth, constipation is not uncommon. Speak with your doctor regarding whether its appropriate to switch to an alternative product or stop the iron supplements altogether.

If you are taking painkillers or other medication, you can find out more about possible side effects for your digestion and constipation here. Even when breastfeeding, you can still get your digestion moving with a laxative. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for an appropriate laxative that can be taken during breastfeeding.
After giving birth:pain

If, after you have given birth, you experience pain when going to the toilet that shows no signs of improvement, visit your doctor. It might be that you have developed haemorrhoids by pushing while giving birth.

Constipation during pregnancy and while breastfeeding often go hand in hand. Throughout the pregnancy, different factors can contribute to constipation. Some of the more common causes are hormonal changes and prenatal vitamins containing iron. Later in the pregnancy, the expansion of the uterus can increase pressure on the intestines, also triggering constipation.

After giving birth, women may continue to experience constipation due to hormonal fluctuations, pain medications as the result of an episiotomy or caesarean section, or dehydration if breastfeeding.

During pregnancy seek medical advice for use of a stimulant laxative like Dulcolax.

As with any medication, you should talk to your doctor before taking Dulcolax if you are breastfeeding.

Constipation in Breastfeeding

Nutrition and relaxation to avoid stress

After giving birth, a lot changes in your new life as a parent. As a mother you experience this in particular: a new daily routine and looking after the baby require a real talent for organisation. This unfamiliar stress, initial uncertainty, confusion and the resulting exhaustion can put a strain on your digestion. At these times, a fibre-rich diet with lots of fruit and sufficient fluids can be just as helpful as taking a break now and then and letting the father, parents or a friend look after the baby.
Iron supplements

If you are taking iron supplements after giving birth, this may cause constipation and other digestive issues associated with dry stools. In this case, it may be sensible to switch products or discuss not taking the supplements entirely with your doctor. You then need to take on the required quantities of iron through your diet – for example nuts and dried fruits. They not only provide the additional energy needed for breastfeeding, they also loosen your bowels – as long as you also drink enough: two to three litres of liquid a day is ideal.
Hormones and care

Just like at the beginning of your pregnancy, a change in hormone balance can also put a strain on your digestive system after giving birth. Constant care is also a potential catalyst for constipation: If you feel responsible and don’t want to leave your baby alone for even such a short period, you’ll probably either put off going to the toilet or even suppress your need completely. To lower your stress level you should realise that you don’t have to master this situation all alone. Request some support from your partner or a friend and try to establish some time for yourself to the get relief you need.

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