21 answers

TMI Alert: Serious Postpartum Constipation!

I'm just fed up with this situation after having tried almost everything I can think of, so I had to come here and kvetch/ask for advice. I'm six weeks postpartum and I've had constipation ever since my first post-birth poop! Now, I have a history of constipation, which has caused me to have quite a problem with a small tear in my ... you know, area. It's horrible! It's embarrassing, scary, gory, and revolting, but the worst part is, I can't seem to figure out what's causing the problem. Obviously, it's dietary related, but I'm doing everything right! I'm drinking about 10 to 12 cups of water a day and eating tons of fiber. I take stool softeners and now I'm having to resort to drastic measures. Last night I took a half dose of milk of magnesia on the advice of my obstetrician. I have started taking fiber supplements and Fiber One bars as of this morning. Next, I'm going to start swigging prune juice like it's going out of style, and I HATE prune juice.

It's not that I can't poop...I poop every day and today I pooped twice. It's just that the tear makes every poop painful and bloody, like I'm passing broken glass! Ack! It's so bad. And the only way the tear is going to heal is if the poop gets soft. But nothing I'm doing is helping. I really expected the milk of magnesia to give me diarrhea but it didn't. The poop was as hard as ever.

Sigh, I'm sorry to be so disgusting. I'm revolted just talking about it, but I'm at my wit's end here. I go back to the OB tomorrow and I'll talk to him in person about how bad the problem is. I just don't know what to say or do about this anymore. Sometimes I get so frustrated that all my healthy eating isn't helping that I go out and get something unhealthy, because I figure that if healthy eating won't fix the problem, I might as well at least enjoy myself. That kind of thinking led to me getting a sausage mcmuffin the other morning. I immediately regretted it and changed my attitude!

If this doesn't stop, I'm going to have to keep dropping foods from my diet, which sounds really unhealthy to me. First, the prenatal vitamin has to go in case that's making the problem worse. Then I've cut way down on my meat intake, and next I'm going to have to cut out dairy. I can't tell you how upset the notion of cutting out food groups makes me. I don't think it's safe or healthy, and it surely isn't enjoyable. Nor is it sustainable over the long-term for me. I'm an omnivore through and through. I don't have a problem with severely reducing my meat and dairy intake, but I will never be a vegan. I need to be well-rounded.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all this wonderful advice! I'm going to make a list of it and take it to the OB with me today. To those of you who recommended seeing a specialist, yes, it was my plan to ask my OB for a referral today.

Also, I realize I was vague about what my diet consists of apart from saying it is high in fiber. Specifically, I've been eating and drinking the following: prune juice, apple juice, Fiber One breakfast bars, fiber chewable supplements, black beans, refried beans, apples, grapes, raisins, nuts, flax seeds, lentils, and brown rice. I also take a stool softener.

Last night I took a full dose of milk of magnesia and followed it this morning with prune juice, apple juice, water, two fiber one bars, and a fiber supplement. Half an hour later, I had my first soft stool in a month or more, but it still bled since the site is so damaged. But, if I can keep this up, I'm hoping that things will start to heal up.

Thanks again!

Featured Answers

The vitamin is definitely making it worse (the iron). Not enough liquids -- 10-12 cups of water a day seems like a lot but try drinking more, even if it's not just water (like a little coffee, OJ, maybe even a beer or glass of wine). Eat broccoli if you can, even with a little cheese on it, and as much as you can (bowl a day works GREAT). Any leafy greens that you might like really help too. I had a hard time too (pardon the pun) and stool softeners that my doc suggested never seemed to help. I too, didn't eat much meat but there is no way I could cut down dairy because I LOVE milk and cheese. The things I mentioned are what worked the best for me. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I have been costipated like this my whole life until i had my son. It reset something & I have been good ever since, but before that, what I found that worked for me rather than all the pills & meds was a good diet (which you seem to be doing) & taking a swig or two every morning from a little green bottle. It is called magnesium citrate & costs about a dollar at walmart. It is located in the stool softener section usually bottom shelf. It is carbonated & taste like strong sprite. It is used by hopspitals to clean you out for exams only to do that you take a larger dose. It helped me. best of luck.

More Answers

I had a similar issue as well. NOT FUN...and embarrassing! One thing I didn't see anyone mention is a hemorrhoidal(sp?) cream. It was the only thing that seemed to help "down there". I can't remember how long it took...maybe a week or so? More TMI...apply a tad slightly inside too. Keep it clean and dry...those tucks medicated pads were soothing too. I know I dealt with it for awhile, but it eventually went away. And I think it was more of a tear too, not and actual hemorrhoid. Those stool softeners the hospital gave me NEVER helped...just made me gassy. I know you have to try to relax too...it just makes it worse when you are all stressed and "tight".

Something that "helps" me now with a BM is coffee! I didn't use to drink it much, but do now. I tell ya...if you need to go, drink a cup, and in less then an hour you should be in the restroom...soft stool and all!!! At least that's how it works for me! Good Luck! Hope your bumm feels better soon! You are not alone! :)

1 mom found this helpful

I think you need to drink a LOT more water. Consuming all that fiber without a commensurate increase in water will result in really hard poops. You don't mention what kind of fiber you're eating. I'd say stick to leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables that also have some water content in them. Cut down on the dry grains, like bread, the bars, and the supplements, because if you're ABLE to poop, I don't think your fiber intake is an issue. Also, reduce your iron intake, because that makes constipation worse as well (so yes, check your prenatal vitamins).

Another thing you might try are glycerin suppositories (if your doctor thinks it's ok - you didn't mention if you are nursing). And get more exercise - walk or ride a stationary bike. That will get your abs and intestines moving, which should also help.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

A friend of mine had this problem, and it turned out he had an anal fissure. He had to have a quick outpatient procedure to fix it, and he's been good ever since.

I've also suffered from constipation for most of my life, and recently discovered Trader Joe's Raisin Bran. Oh, my God! I don't know why it's so different than other bran cereals, but that stuff cleans me right out. My stepdad also has a real problem with constipation, and I bought him a box as a little gift and he's hooked now too.

Good luck...I can imagine how difficult this is for you.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm surprised your OB didn't prescribe a stool softener for you, postpartum - perhaps that could be an option?

1 mom found this helpful

I had a tear too and it took a couple of weeks to heal. Drop the prenatal vitamin, those are sooooo constipating. I couldn't even take them when I was pregnant. Are you taking colace to soften your stool? Eat Fiber One cereal the one with 55% of your daily dose of fiber. I think it is Honey Clusters. This helped me tremendously and it is the only thing that worked to soften the stool. Cut out dairy and cheese for a while (except you might want the milk for your cereal).

1 mom found this helpful

The vitamin is definitely making it worse (the iron). Not enough liquids -- 10-12 cups of water a day seems like a lot but try drinking more, even if it's not just water (like a little coffee, OJ, maybe even a beer or glass of wine). Eat broccoli if you can, even with a little cheese on it, and as much as you can (bowl a day works GREAT). Any leafy greens that you might like really help too. I had a hard time too (pardon the pun) and stool softeners that my doc suggested never seemed to help. I too, didn't eat much meat but there is no way I could cut down dairy because I LOVE milk and cheese. The things I mentioned are what worked the best for me. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

After having my kids my dr. gave me a softner like miralax.. ask your ob miralax is now over the counter. sorry
L.

1 mom found this helpful

Yowza.....that sound like torture! I am so sorry!!! You definitely sound like you are doing everything right!
How is your healthy fat intake? Sometimes we cut out too much fat for our bodies to function properly. I know this sounds nasty, but try drinking about a tablespoon of olive oil (in a glass of juice if you don't think you can hack it straight up) and see what happens.
Do you eat flax seed? That's a really great way to get things moving. You do need to make sure it's ground before you eat it, for the maximum health benefit. I buy mine whole and grind them in a cheap coffee grinder that I purchased expressly for flax. Be sure to keep it refrigerated, as the oils in flax are very volitale and WILL go rancid at room temp.

GOOD LUCK to you! Again, I am so sorry you are going through this!

Oh, and do you still have your cleansing bottle that they give you in the hospital? I used ten drops of tea tree oil in warm water in the bottle and that REALLY helped with the pain.

1 mom found this helpful

I would go to a gi doctor. She will be able to fix the tear problem and give you advice on the constipation. OBs can only do so much. Sounds like you need to try with another professional. I bet your OB can give you a rec.

I know the idea of cutting food out of your diet could be upsetting, but try not to look at it that way. Think of substituting. When I found out that my nursing son was allergic to both milk and eggs (and I'm vegetarian to start with), I had to get really creative--especially without wheat and soy, which are staples for vegetarians. I was just as healthy then as I am now that he's weaned and can eat everything. But I stayed vegan.

I'm telling you this for two reasons. One, to encourage you that you don't have to worry about cutting out food groups if you can find good substitutes for them. Nuts are a great idea (like one other poster mentioned). Good fat can help to "grease" things a bit. Try making half almond, half cashew milk. It's got tons of good fat, is very satisfying, and you can flavor it however you want (try making chocolate milk!).

The other reason is that I know exactly what you're dealing with. Been there. And I think I can safely say since I have been vegan, the problem has disappeared. Not just sort of. It's completely gone. Cutting out dairy--especially cheese--might make the difference for you. The protein in milk is harder to digest than meat, so maybe you can just cut out milk and get your calcium other ways, and not gave to give up meat.

Hope this helps! I know how miserable it is... but I'm sure you will find the solution eventually. :)

I am so sorry you are suffering. To help with the pain with the tearing, try a spray bottle with warm water while going to the potty. that may help..

For the constipation pick up some "Yogi Tea" It is called Detox.. ( I purchase mine at Whole Foods)use 2 teabags and a giant mug and Woosh! It should help.. In our family we also have a last ditch effort, drink the juice of 3 lemons straight... Woosh!

Fiber always helps me out a ton. Have you tried a fiber pill or benifiber?

HI C.,

This sounds miserable!!!!!! I am sorry you have to go through this.

I don't have any idea what your diet consists of, but had a couple of ideas off the top of my head. What kinds of things are you eating for fiber? Have you tried almonds, dried fruit, berries, flax seeds...? Also aloe vera juice can be helpful.

I would consider a cleanse or a fast. It sounds like you really need something to clean yourself out and start again. I'd check with your Dr. about doing one before you do it though, and make sure you choose one that it safe for you...

Good luck!

I have been costipated like this my whole life until i had my son. It reset something & I have been good ever since, but before that, what I found that worked for me rather than all the pills & meds was a good diet (which you seem to be doing) & taking a swig or two every morning from a little green bottle. It is called magnesium citrate & costs about a dollar at walmart. It is located in the stool softener section usually bottom shelf. It is carbonated & taste like strong sprite. It is used by hopspitals to clean you out for exams only to do that you take a larger dose. It helped me. best of luck.

I'd go see a naturopath. I'll emial you the number of mine if you like. She told me to do lots of dried fruits & more veggies. It really helped.

Hi,
I know exactly how you feel. I had the same situation a few years ago after having my daughter I would've almost rather not eat than think of having a BM it was go painful. I saw the toilet full of blood on many occassions and that did not help with stress over the issue at all...just scared me more. I tried all of the same things you did with no luck and then my general doc gave me Miralax (at that time it was a prescription but it is now over the counter). Give it a shot b/c it was the only thing that helped me. It is considered to be pretty safe even long term b/c the ped now has me giving it to my 4 year old daily with no end in sight to prevent another bowel blockage. After about 24 hours you should be in good shape and a lot less pain. I used it just long enough to let my body heal and then stopped it.

Try eating a bunch of oily nuts. Cashews are particularly oily. I'm an acupuncturist, and in Chinese medicine, there are several nuts that are used to treat constipation.

Best of luck to you, and don't be embarrassed, our health (or unhealth!) isn't something to be embarrassed about here! We're here to offer advice :)

Have you taken stool softeners

i'm surprised no one mention probiotics.

pregnancy does weird stuff to your body. i now have food intolerances that i didn't have before. my gut is much happier without wheat. that was a hard one because i love bread! i would see a naturopath who could help you figure out what your body is reacting to. obviously you are doing enough fiber and water so i would suspect there is something else going on.

oh, there are less constipating irons out there too.

After helping nurse DH through a hemmorhoidectomy, I can understand where you're coming from. Drink more water, and take more stool softeners. You can get a bottle of 100 over the counter for $5. There is no way that you can "take too many" of them--start with 2 at a time, if that doesn't work, up it. Also, hemmorhoid cream may help but also try some A&D (and a bit up inside) it helps soothe and lube.

Kvetch away C........anyone would be cranky with what you have going on! I think this would really help:

http://healinghappens.myshaklee.com/us/en/products.php?sk...

However, if you are nursing you may not be able to take this just yet.
Have you asked your doctor for a suppository?

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