- Physio Services
- The ‘Aches and Pains’ of Pregnancy
- Understanding Pregnancy – Low Back & Pelvic Girdle Pain
- Exercise in Pregnancy
- Video – Early Postnatal Body Care
- Returning to Running Postnatally
- Sex after childbirth
- Bladders and Bowels
- Vaginal Prolapse
- Further Resources for Reading
- Video – Pelvic Floor Exercises
It is normal to empty your bowel anywhere from 3 times/day to once every 3 days. However, in pregnancy and after delivery, some women can be prone to constipation.
Ideal stool consistency is Type 4 on the Bristol Stool Scale
Increase your water intake if you are constipated- ideally 1.5-2litres fluid/day. If you are breastfeeding you may need to increase your intake to between 2 and 3 litres to remain hydrated.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can make you have more bowel movements. But if you’re dehydrated, you may find that the caffeine in coffee, black tea, and chocolate makes your constipation worse.
Prune juice acts as a laxative as it contains sorbitol which pulls water into the large intestine and can help with stools. Try drinking 100-200ml in the morning to stimulate a bowel motion.
Consume a mix of soluble and insoluble fibre. Milled seeds, psyllium husks, kiwis, pears and prunes can help. Bananas contain pectin (fibre) that draws water from the intestines toward the stool. If dehydrated, this can worsen constipation.
Regular exercise can aid the passage of food through the gut thereby stimulating the bowel to empty. Aim to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times per week. Low impact exercise is best during pregnancy.
Probiotics are thought to counteract imbalance by increasing good bacteria in the gut. They can be good if you have had an infection e.g. H Pylori, diarrhoea on hols, or have recently completed a course of antibiotics. Try for a minimum of 1 month. A probiotic containing Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacterium is ideal.
Many different laxatives exist on the market. Speak to your GP or pharmacist about which may be best for you.
Ideal positioning is in squatting or sitting with your feet elevated on a stool, with a straight spine in a forward lean position.
Then take some ‘tummy breaths’, allowing your belly to fill as you breathe in and empty as you breathe out.
Finally, while emptying, allow your tummy to ‘bulge’, keeping it firm. Direct your breath downwards, avoiding straining, while exhaling slowly.