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The Truth About Postpartum Constipation

by Shelley Rahim
3 comments
Postpartum Constipation

The first post-labor poop. It’s a big deal.

Ask anyone who has ever been pregnant or given birth about constipation and they will tell you that it’s par for the course. In fact, within minutes after giving birth in the hospital a stool softener is prescribed as standard protocol. 

This blog post will shed light on the birth industry’s standard of care regarding postpartum constipation and present a holistic approach to preventing or treating this problem with proper nutrition.

Reasons why postpartum constipation may occur immediately after birth include:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Digestion naturally slows down during labor and birth 
  • The use of pain medication
  • Dehydration during labor (especially when fluid intake is restricted during)
  • Iron supplements
  • Fear of pooping 
  • Lack of proper nourishment (the purpose of this blog post!)

Constipation can lead to or worsen hemorrhoids. It may also exasborate the recovery process of a pelvic floor tear or episiotomy. 

To remedy this, doctors will routinely prescribe a stool softeners medication such as docusate sodium (ie, Colace). While a stool softener generally works to keep moms’ stools loose, I have also witnessed adverse side effects such as severe diarrhea, stomach aches, cramping, nausea and vomiting. 

I propose that we prevent constipation to begin with by offering Proper Nourishment and Hydration. 

I hold the belief that the female body is highly intelligent and when provided with appropriate nourishment and adequate hydration, postpartum constipation can be prevented or alleviated naturally, without the use of pharmaceutical stool softeners or laxatives. 

The Main Culprit? Hospital Food.

The hospital food a mother consumes after giving birth in western culture is quite often, in my experience, the main culprit of constipation. Think about it, during labor, most birthing mother’s food and drink intake is restricted and fasting during labor is still common practice. Whether labor is long or short, she may find herself very hungry after delivering her baby. Giving birth is metabolically similar to running a marathon. Her body works extremely hard to birth a baby and needs to be refueled in order to recover and restore lost nutrients.

Sadly, the birth culture we live in is not equipped to offer a nourishing meal to a mother during those first few hours after birth. A post-birth mother is completely dependent on the people around her to provide this important meal and her choices are pretty slim. Typically, she is given a cold turkey sandwich and jello, along with some ice water or cold fruit juice. As a birth doula, this is what I witness as a universal standard for nutrition. I’ve even watched as a mom ate a pizza and soda out of desperation because there was nothing else to offer her.

In our culture, more thought is put into refueling marathon runners after crossing the finish line – than in our mothers after crossing the finish line of birth.

How can this be?

If you’re a mother reading this, what did you eat immediately after birthing your baby? Do you remember? Share your experience by posting in the comments below. Or, ask a friend what was their first meal after delivering their baby. Let’s start a discussion about this problem so we can create positive, lasting change together. 

I hold a vision that someday our birthing institutions consider nutrition as part of the recovery process and offer proper nourishment to postpartum mothers. If this were the case, a post-birth mother would not be given nutrient deficient food at a time when she desperately needs high-quality nourishment. Until this vision is a reality, I will help to empower you to make sure you are prepared to be well nourished after birthing your baby.

Pizza
Postpartum mothers should NOT eat PIZZA moments after giving birth!

A postpartum mother’s digestive system is extremely delicate and cannot easily digest a cold turkey sandwich or pizza, the result is constipation (among other issues). When there are problems with the digestive system, the body struggles to recover and heal from the birth. Optimal healing and recovery begins with digestion. 

I’m an Ayurvedic Postpartum Caregiver and Chef and I’ve created the perfect post-birth recovery meal plan for my clients. Eating a nourishing meal that is suitable for postpartum mother’s delicate digestion takes know-how, planning and preparation. My guidebook will educate you on how you can avoid hospital junk food and plan to replenish your hard-working body with delicious sustenance so you can feel restored, rejuvenated and produce high-quality breastmilk.

I draw much of my knowledge of caring for a new mother from Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old traditional system of medicine in India which uses a comprehensive holistic approach to restoring health and vitality by emphasizing diet, herbal remedies, yoga and other natural lifestyle changes. According to Ayurveda, a well-functioning digestion is key to attaining optimal physical, emotional and spiritual vitality throughout the lifespan. Giving birth is no exception to this rule. In fact, it’s even more important to follow these ancient Ayurvedic practices for feeding postpartum mothers. Postpartum constipation is not only uncomfortable, it is also a sign that the mother’s digestive system is not performing optimally and will prevent her from adequately absorbing the nutrients she needs to recover from birth and produce milk. Constipation is the body’s way of communicating something is not well. In Ayurveda, understanding how to track the body’s digestion is an important assessment tool in discerning what type of nourishment will support the body’s healing process. I will teach you how to do this in my guidebook.

How can you naturally prevent postpartum constipation?

Have a Post Birth Recovery Meal Plan!

Ayurvedic science, along with most non-western cultures, adhere to strict guidelines and protocols for feeding new mothers, and it’s NOT a cold turkey sandwich, jello or a pizza! As a birth doula and Ayurvedic Postpartum Chef, I have been feeding mothers my post-birth recovery meals for a decade now. My Ayurvedic-inspired post-birth nourishment is delicious, warming and exactly what the mother’s body needs to heal, restore and start producing breastmilk. 

If you would like to follow my methodology, download my FREE Post Birth Recovery Meal Plan Guidebook with Recipes Here. The mothers who follow my nutritional guidance heal faster and certainly don’t get constipated, therefore, can say no to pharmaceutical stool softeners or laxatives when offered. Foods such as stewed fruits, bone broth, congee, turmeric lactation chai and CCF tea will support the body’s healing process, rather than work against it. 

Stewed fruits are the perfect post-birth recovery snack for preventing or alleviating constipation. Made with high-fiber dried fruits that have been cooked in ayurvedic spices will support digestion and aid elimination. Stewed Fruits also contain iron, helping to restore iron levels after blood loss among many other nutritional benefits. Stewed Fruits is my go-to for helping a mama heal after birth, and they taste AMAZING too! Try them out yourself! They are a great way to alleviate constipation during pregnancy as well!

Check out what my clients have to say about my Stewed Fruits recipe: “Testimonial quotes here”

Understanding how proper nutrition and rest is vital for a positive recovery after delivery is the first step in a healthy, happy postpartum time. My free guidebook includes a step-by-step process for the WHY, WHAT and HOW to feed a mama after she gives birth. 

My FREE guidebook includes:

  • All the recipes you will need to nourish the mother after birth, including Stewed Fruits
  • Meal Prepping and Planning for this post-birth nourishment
  • Instructions on HOW to heat the food and feed a mother at the hospital
  • Information on WHY post-birth recovery meal plan is important

With the help of my Post Birth Recovery Meal Plan you can feel confident knowing that the nourishment you will receive after your hard work will be deeply satisfying and supportive of your body’s recovery process.

It is my mission to make sure that every postpartum mother in America receives a proper meal after birthing her baby!

With Love and Healthy Blessings,

Shelley

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3 comments

Tess Haskell July 9, 2022 - 2:03 pm

Finally!!! Thank you!!! I’ve had 5 babies and from the first one I was shocked at the hospital food! We’re supposed to heal and recover on a hospital and the food is not food. At all. Highly processed, full in salt and sugar and preservatives. I’m no health nut but truly should not be round and perfectly flat. I was given stool softeners and they did nothing. I struggled with eating healthy and getting enough fluids while nursing all of my babies at home-and starting off with hospital food was the worst thing ever. Breaks my heart no one has changed this!!!

Reply
Tess Haskell July 9, 2022 - 2:04 pm

*in
*turkey

Reply
Shelley Rahim July 21, 2022 - 3:04 am

Thank you SOOOOOOO much for your comment! The world needs to hear experiences like yours! I’m doing everything I can to empower mamas to bring their own nourishment until we can fix our broken system.

Reply

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