Constipation post-birth – what are my options?

Constipation is one of the most common post-natal complaints among the new mums. With the arrival of your newborn it can be very distressing to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of constipation. That is why it is important for women to look after themselves post-birth and address this problem to avoid complications.

Why I am constipated after giving birth?

Some of reasons may include:

  1. Stitches and bruising: Tears and soreness around perineum region (between vagina and anus) post a natural delivery are common. It may feel uncomfortable going to the toilet but your stitches will not be affected.
  2. Pain medication: Opiod analgesics commonly given after C-section and pain-relief used during labour may slow down your gut motility.
  3. Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding causes your body’s fluid to be transferred into the milk. Extra water is drawn from the bowels and if not replaced with an extra intake, bowel motion may become firm and harder to pass.
  4. A change of hormone levels: Breastfeeding also causes high progesterone levels. This hormone may slow down the bowel ‘transit time’ and cause constipation.
  5. Iron supplements: Iron supplement may contribute to constipation. There are some improved formulations that are less likely to cause constipation. Our pick: Spartone sachets (iron sulphate) – safe during breastfeeding.

Our pick:

Spartone (iron sulphate) – safe during breastfeeding.

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What lifestyle and dietary changes should I implement?

There are some things that can help to prevent constipation:

Fluids intake: Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Drink small sips of water throughout the day. Alternatively have a large glass of water after each breastfeed. Also, minimize your water loss by reducing caffeine drinks. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, act as a diuretic further dehydrating the body.

Stay active: Walking and yoga can stimulate the bowels movement and assist in normalising regularity.

High fibre diet: Our body needs dietary fiber to pass through our colon to assist in the peristaltic motion of the bowel. Fibrous foods include: fresh fruits, vegetables, wholemeal breads and cereals, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

What’s available over-the-counter for constipation?

The following products are safe to use in breastfeeding.

Fibre supplements:

Fybogel: Physllum Husk

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Benefibre: Contains inulin – soluble vegetable fiber and therefore completely dissolves into a clear liquid.

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Stool softener:

Coloxyl (Docusate sodium)

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Osmotic laxatives:

Actilax (Lactulose)


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Further treatment options.

If the constipation is severe you may need further alternatives. Each case is unique it is best to get your doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice on what option is most suitable for you.

Some of the stronger treatments include:

Stimulant laxative:

  • Senna (Senokot) tablet
  • Docusate and Senna (Coloxyl and Senna) tablet
  • Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) tablet


  • Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) suppositories
  • Glycerol suppositories


  • Microlax enema

Long-term constipation may lead to straining, pelvic floor problems, tears in the anal canal (anal fissures) and piles (hemorrhoids). Although constipation is very common post-birth, it can be prevented with a good management before these complications arise.

Next time …

In one of my next blogs I would like to talk about constipation during pregnancy as well as associated consequences if untreated – hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Did you suffer from constipation after your delivery? What measures did you find the most useful?

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