It is quite usual to not pass stool for a few days after a C-section. Constipation occurs in around 20% of females after delivery. If you had your delivery in a hospital, it may happen that you are not comfortable using the hospital toilet. It is also very natural to be apprehensive to pass stool with all those bruising and stitches. If you are constipated,it is important to relax and don’t force to pass stool. Constipation may be relieved by making a few lifestyles and dietary changes; however, visit your physician if you have persistent constipation after delivery as you may require a medicine to soften stools.
Causes of Constipation After C Section
1. Internal Causes
You may have constipation due to the occurrence of loose stools during early labor or pre-labor. Prenatal vitamins ingested during the period of breastfeeding can also cause your constipation. Even iron tablets ingested during pregnancy may also be the result of constipation. What’s more, the digestive system is very sluggish during labor, and needs several days to get back to normal. Chronic constipation may occur in some females after delivery, due to the increased levels of progesterone hormone during pregnancy.
2. External Causes
Many females may become uncomfortable going to the toilet due to the bruising and stitches done during childbirth. Fear of tearing the stitches during a bowel movement may make a female constipated after delivery. Feeling lack of privacy, many females feel uncomfortable using hospital toilets. What’s more, pain killers like diamorphine or pethidinegiven during labor for pain relief may cause a sluggish bowel movement.
What Can You Do?
Though constipation after C-Section may become a nightmare; however, with some care, the symptoms can easily subside. It is imperative to be proactive in its treatment. Majority of the times constipation resolves by itself within a few days. Taking simple steps can treat constipation. It is important that you should not ignore passing stool for fear of pain, because the stool hardens with time and becomes much more painful to pass. A few simple steps are mentioned below that you should follow for treatment of postpartum constipation:
1. Get More Fiber in Your Diet
Constipation after C-Section may occur as a result of lack of fiber in diet. Fiber in diet helps in adding bulk and keep food moving through the digestive tract. It also helps soften stools making them easier to pass by absorbing water. Dietary fiber can be obtained from whole plant foods including fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains including whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa and beans including kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lentils and pinto beans. Females below 50 are recommended to eat at least 25 grams of fiber in diet every day.
2. Drink Plenty of Fluids
With insufficient fluid, the dietary fiber gets hard and dry in the digestive tract, thereby worsening constipation. According to the Institute of Medicine, females should drink at least 2 liters of fluid per day (approximately 9 cups), and during breast-feeding, the requirement for fluids will increase due to milk production. You can drink plain water, herbal teas, milk, coconut water and natural fruit juices without added sugar to hydrate yourself. You should limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
3. Get Regular Physical Activity
Decreased physical activity may also contribute to constipation after C section. After your delivery, it is very likely that you are advised to take rest and limit your physical activity so that your abdomen can heal. Once pain has subsided and your doctor has given you the OK, doing some exercise and returning to your normal activities can help ease your constipation. Walking is a good exercise after C-Section which not only helps in relieving pain and discomfort but also in relieving constipation.
4. Avoid Certain Foods
Replace refined foods such as white bread, and white rice with whole grain variety and brown rice. Chocolate can cause constipation, so instead of eating a chocolate, go for some trail mix. Different with ripe bananas, immature bananas should be avoided, which would cause constipation.
5. OtherTips for the Prevention of Constipation
- Do not ignore the urge to pass stool.
- Avoid medicines that have constipation as a side effect such as codeine. You can ask your physician to suggest a different medicine.
- Eating regular meals with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is important.
- See your physician in case you suffer from anal fissures or piles as both conditions can worsen constipation.
When to See Your Healthcare Provider?
Constipation after C-Section is a common problem; however, if you suffer from severe constipation along with symptoms of pain in abdomen, alternating diarrhea, or presence of mucus or blood in stool, it is recommended to call your physician immediately.
Passing hard stool or straining during passage of stool can result in hemorrhoids, which are characterized by swelling of veins in the rectal and anal region. Hemorrhoids can cause discomfort and can be uncomfortable. In majority of the cases they are better after child birth. However, they cause severe pain or rectal bleeding, it is important to visit your physician for an evaluation.