You can file this as item number one million under Universal Challenges That Women Face After Their Baby's Born, But No One Talks About. (That's a mouthful, but you get the idea). For women recovering from a vaginal or cesarean delivery, that first bowel movement can be painful and scary. If it happens at all. Many women struggle with constipation after their baby is born, which can add stress and discomfort to an already loaded, challenging time. Here are some helpful, relatively easy ways to get stuff moving.
Legumes, roughage, fruit, and seeds can all help to create a bowel movement. Thinking about filling up on foods like this before you have your baby can make a huge difference for after as well. Some easy ways to get this food into your diet before and after baby is born:
- Prunes smeared with peanut butter butter (easy! delish!)
- Fruit smoothies with greens, coconut water, and flax or chia seeds (hold the banana!)
- Oatmeal with chopped up prunes and flax or chia seeds (warm, yum!)
- Veggie chili with extra greens (can be made in advance and frozen!)
- Bean and cheese burritos (can be eaten one-handed!)
Please drink a lot (A LOT) of water. No matter your birth experience or how you're feeding your baby, you need to take such excellent care of yourself and hydrating is an important part of that. Certain over the counter (OTC) medications for constipation will work way better if you're hydrated, as will the "moving" properties of the foods listed above.
Supplements and OTC Medications
*PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRYING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING*
- Magnesium - This supplement can help during pregnancy with restless legs and anxiety, as well as to create a bowel movement. You can get it in a powder form to dissolve in water as a drink. Tasty!
- Milk of magnesia - This draws water into the gut and can help create a gentle movement.
- Probiotics - Probiotics can help create a healthy balance of flora in your gut, which can keep you regular during pregnancy and beyond.
- Stool softeners - I took a stool softener every single day of the third trimester with my second. And then for a few weeks after he was born. This stuff is great. It is not a laxative, but works in the gut to soften your poop so it's easier to get it out.
- Coffee - Remember coffee? Drink some if you want to! If you're breastfeeding, you may be worried that the caffeine will affect your baby, but chances are slim that in moderation she will be sensitive to it.
- Squatty Potty - This tool helps mimic a natural squat position which can help to create a bowel movement. You may be able to recreate this at home with a low stool (no pun intended!).
- Tea with senna - Senna increases bowel motility and is the active ingredient in most herbal teas that claim to help you poo. It can be especially beneficial for those who are experiencing opioid-induced constipation.
What to Avoid
- Narcotics - Especially if you've have a cesarean delivery, narcotics can be hard to avoid. They can make it harder to poop though, so keep that in mind as you and your doctor make a plan for weaning from them.
- Prenatal vitamins with iron - Iron can cause constipation, so especially for those first few days and weeks after baby is born, talk to your doctor about switching to vitamins without iron (or forgoing them altogether).
What worked for you after your baby was born?