6 ways to ease postpartum constipation

From drinking more water to working out, try these simple steps to deal with this common post-pregnancy problem.

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If you had constipation during pregnancy, you’re probably counting down the days till you deliver your bundle as you’re hoping that everything will return to normal. Unfortunately, it will take some time before your bowel movements resume its once-regular schedule.

Indeed, ob-gyn Dr Peter Chew explains that whether it was a vaginal birth or a C-section, it’s fairly common for mothers to not poop in the first two days of giving birth.

SmartParents expert and consultant ob-gyn at Gleneagles Hospital, Dr Christopher Chong explains that your pregnancy hormones are largely to blame. These slow down peristalsis — the movement of food through your gastrointestinal tract. He notes, “It’ll take about six weeks before the hormones return to its normal levels.”

“It’ll take about six weeks before the hormones return to its normal levels.”

Other reasons why you are constipated include:

* An empty stomach For a vaginal birth, you’ll be given an enema, so that you don’t poop during delivery. If you’re getting a C-section, you’re advised to fast before surgery as your digestive system needs to be free of food to avoid complications. So, there’s no waste to be expelled since your digestive tract sits empty.

* Confinement foods These herbal tonics are considered to be “heaty” in nature, so it’s harder for you to poop.

* Pain and soreness “down there” Your gynae performs an episiotomy ― a snip to your perineum, the space between your vagina and anus — to ease a difficult delivery. As the skin around the area is still healing, it can hurt when you try to poop. For some mothers, piles (or haemorrhoids) can even develop in the area. As a result, the anal sphincter — a ring of muscles around the anus — may narrow, thus causing constipation.

* Anaesthesia Dr Chew points out that general anaesthesia has been shown to slow down one’s bowel movements, which explains why C-section patients also face constipation.

Dr Chong says that your constipation will resolve from about a week after delivery. In the meantime, follow these suggestions to help move your bowels…