Breastfeeding is one of the essential ways to support a baby’s immune health as it boosts their immunity against various health conditions and illnesses such as asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and many more. However, some moms experience difficulties while they are breastfeeding like suffering from constipation.
In this article, we discuss the causes or reasons why several mothers suffer from constipation while they are breastfeeding, and how to ease the discomforts of constipation while breastfeeding.
Causes of Constipation During Breastfeeding
According to the site Parents, constipation in nursing moms generally happens at the start of pregnancy and then suddenly rises after childbirth and during the breastfeeding stage. Also, there are times that some moms still experience constipation during the toddler years as well. This is due to a combination of diverse factors such as fluctuating hormones, dehydration, postpartum medication, traumatized digestive system from childbirth, or subconscious fear of tearing your vaginal stitches.
One Canadian research study revealed that 60% of nursing moms experience constipation weekly and 90% of them say that it happens at least once a month. While recovering from childbirth, you might have some stitches at the episiotomy site (if you have a vaginal delivery) or at the surgical site (if you had a C-section delivery).
After giving birth, your body is in a state of recovery and healing. The first 42 days after childbirth is the stage known as the postpartum period. Don’t rush yourself and expect that things will slowly get better.
Below are some of the common causes of constipation during breastfeeding:
- Clenching the round sphincter muscles in your bottom.
- Damaged pelvic floor muscles or the anal sphincter muscles because of intense pushing during delivery
- Changes in sleep patterns and fatigue
- Diet and dehydration
- Lower activity levels
- Postnatal vitamins
Ways to Relieve Constipation While Breastfeeding
Are you still constipated after childbirth and while breastfeeding your baby? Here are some ways that you can do to relieve constipation while breastfeeding:
- Eat more fiber-rich foods – Consume more whole grains, bran cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Studies have shown that eating two or three prunes is as effective as taking a laxative as prunes are high in fiber and contain sugar alcohol that has a natural laxative effect.
- Stay hydrated – When you’re dehydrated, your colon soaks up the fluid left in your food waste resulting in hardier stools. Aim for 10-12 glasses a day when you’re breastfeeding.
- Exercise – Be physically active! You can do some gentle stretches and body movements. Try doing some basic pilates to strengthen your core and stability. Or you may try pushing a stroller or playground swing counts to help your body increase its blood and oxygen flow in all your organs.
- Laxatives – Try over-the-counter laxatives and softeners like psyllium and methylcellulose, bisacodyl, senna, or castor oil.
- Calming Exercises and Relaxation Techniques – Perform some meditation or a warm bath to help cope with stress.
- Change your potty posture – Dr. Stevenson suggested that “lifting your feet—so that your knees are higher than your pelvis—will relax the puborectalis muscle and straighten the kink, giving your poop a smoother route out.” So, try sitting on the toilet and putting your feet on a step stool.
- Abdominal massage – Performing an abdominal massage can be a simple way to stimulate bowel movement by pressing the hip bone on the bottom right, moving up across the belly to just below the rib cage, going down again toward the left hip bone, and then return to the belly button and straight to the pubic area.
- Physical Therapy – Consult a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic-floor health as he or she will help you with some exercises that can help facilitate bowel movement.
Constipation in breastfeeding moms is very common around the world due to the effects of childbirth and the postpartum period. To help you with this concern, we recommend that you follow some simple ways to relieve your constipation while breastfeeding such as eating more fiber-rich foods, drinking lots of water, exercising, laxatives, relaxation techniques, and changing your potty posture, and many others. Also, try taking some vitamins and supplements to ease your digestion like our Sakura Oligosaccharides and Sakura Omega-3 Dietary Supplement!