Birth & Delivery

How to relieve postpartum constipation (with special notes on c-sections, breastfeeding & more)

Jessie Day, in partnership with Zita West Products  |   21 May 2024


“Day five has been the worst. In-between being up with the babies non-stop last night I was crying in pain, resorting to all sorts, and nearly called the hospital! I think my c-section’s made it worse, this time around.” 

Postpartum constipation. It’s the worst. That little message from TRB CEO and founder Eloise came just a few days after giving birth to twins. Now, six weeks in, the constipation has eased off. But we know that dehydration, stress and being more sedentary are all super-common in the newborn phase, and key triggers for a constipation rebound.

Crying and struggling on the toilet – we’ll pass

I really sympathise. With my own babies the issue was haemorrhoids and (ouch) fissures which made passing stools extremely difficult. I remember in particular being in extreme pain at a wedding (I was also a bridesmaid) with my first postpartum, and then with my second baby during a long hospital stay when he was weeks old. 

Crying and struggling on the toilet is something we simply don’t have much capacity for, as new mamas. So if problems hit – and knowing that constipation is very common after a c-section, in particular – we need a go-to tool kit to relieve, support and prevent.

Constipation after c-section – what’s the cause? 

Constipation is a normal but uncomfortable – and, for many of us, distressing – issue for postpartum mums. It’s often caused by a combination of factors, but we know that c-sections can really increase the likelihood

With a c-section, it can take up to three or four days for your digestive system to start working normally again. And even when it does get a chance to kick into gear, you’re likely to be a bit restricted on movement – especially after a c-section birth – perhaps still recovering in bed, and almost definitely with a baby on or near you, for much of the day.

So between digestion being a bit wonky, and lack of movement to support motility in your digestive tract, constipation after c-section is brought on by a few natural factors. Plus, we need to talk about those c-section meds. 

Pain medications can disrupt your natural bowel movement regularity, delaying and slowing things up. Strong pain killers and opioids, in particular, can cause constipation.

constipation after c-section

How to relieve postpartum constipation

Knowing their holistic pre and postnatal focus – and Zita’s own expertise as an experienced midwife – I picked up with the team at Zita West, to talk postpartum constipation. One of their most popular products for postpartum mums is the two a day 1,000mg Psyllium Husk – and I’m keen to know why. 

“Psyllium husk is a really effective type of soluble fibre,” says Zita, “so straight-away, it’s a big tick for relieving constipation naturally, after birth. Less well-known though, is its crucial impact on the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Psyllium husk nourishes and promotes their growth, supporting regular bowel movements.” 

Here are team Zita West’s top tips for relieving constipation – bookmark them for your postpartum recovery tool kit – all completely safe to do and use, while breastfeeding: 

  1. Incorporate high-fibre foods: alongside the super-effective psyllium husk option (see below for how to add it into a smoothie or breakfast bowl), focus on fruit, lots of vegetables, whole grains and legumes. These can help soften stools and promote regular bowel movements.
  2. Stay hydrated: drink plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day. Proper hydration helps keep stools soft and easier to pass.
  3. Keep moving (when you can): engage in gentle exercise approved by your healthcare provider – walking and restorative yoga (nothing at all strenuous), are ideal. Physical activity can stimulate bowel movements and support overall digestive health.
  4. Consider natural remedies: some natural remedies, like consuming psyllium husk, prune juice or incorporating chia and flax seeds into your diet, can help relieve constipation. Always consult with your healthcare provider before trying any new remedies or supplements.
  5. Manage iron intake: if you’re taking iron supplements, discuss with your healthcare provider the possibility of adjusting the dosage or considering alternative forms of iron that are less likely to cause constipation.
  6. Establish a regular bathroom routine: try to establish a consistent time for bowel movements and respond promptly to the urge to go when you need to.
  7. Chat with your healthcare provider: if constipation persists or becomes severe, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. They can provide additional guidance and suggest safe and effective treatment options, if necessary.
how to relieve postpartum constipation

Keeping on top of gut-supporting postpartum meals and munches with an unsettled baby (or two) calls for close contact soothing on the go. Here Eloise is sporting the Carifit+ multi-position Baby Carrier in Cool Grey – peep her essentials for life with newborn twins for the rest of her go-to kit.

Eloise’s postpartum constipation smoothie (starring psyllium husk)

Put your own spin on this one – feel free to add greens for extra fibre – I love it as a morning boost after all those night feeds with my twins.

Ingredients

  • 200ml milk of choice (we love the Plenish Oat M*lk, for no-rubbish goodness) 
  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 tbsp peanut butter 
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp porridge or rolled oats 
  • 2 x capsules Psyllium Husk (open your capsule and add the contents in to your blender)
  • a few cubes of ice (optional – ice provides a thicker texture, and extra hydration)

Simply pop everything into your blender and whizz until combined. Alternatively, you can open up your psyllium husk capsules and stir into your smoothie glass. I like to do this, as it means less wastage of my ingredients on the side of the blender!

Stock up on psyllium husk and your best selling supplements of choice, with 10% off the entire Zita West fertility supplement range (US and UK) – just use code TRB10 at checkout*. 

*TRB10 is valid once per customer only. Excludes subscription purchase. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Zita West terms of the site apply.

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