Pregnancy and birth are associated with numerous physical and psychological changes. After birth, the body needs some time to adjust again. During this phase, digestive problems such as flatulence or constipation may occur. Good to know: These symptoms are usually temporary.
How does flatulence occur after birth?
After giving birth, intestinal activity is reduced, so bloating and constipation occur more frequently. This has several reasons.
One is hormonal changes. During pregnancy, progesterone levels are increased. This “pregnancy hormone” prepares the body for the further course of pregnancy. For example, it stimulates the appetite and prepares the mammary glands to produce milk. At the same time, progesterone has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles. As a result, intestinal movement (peristalsis) is slowed down – the intestine is “sluggish”. Food stays in the large intestine longer, so constipation and bloating are not uncommon during pregnancy.
Even after birth, this effect lasts for a short time: around two to three days after the baby is born, the progesterone level drops. However, it takes some time for intestinal peristalsis to return to normal. Therefore, constipation and bloating are not uncommon at the beginning of the postpartum period.
In addition to the hormonal changes, the changed anatomical conditions in the abdominal cavity are also partly responsible for digestive problems after birth. As the pregnancy progresses, the baby requires more and more space in the abdomen, so the position of the intestines changes. After birth, the small and large intestines first have to adapt to the “old” spatial conditions again. Digestive problems are therefore more common in this phase.
In addition, other factors can contribute to increased bloating and constipation during the postpartum period. These include, for example:
- little food or fluid intake before and during the labor phase
- Lack of exercise after birth, for example due to an increased need for rest
- low-fiber food in the hospital
- the administration of painkillers
Bloating after a cesarean section
Not only after a natural birth, but also after a cesarean section, mothers are more likely to have problems with digestion . After the procedure, intestinal function is temporarily impaired. Because stool and intestinal gases have not been able to pass as usual for a while, cramping pain, nausea or the urge to vomit can occur.
In addition, many women are afraid of having their first bowel movement after a cesarean section. For example, you fear that you are in pain and may hold back bowel movements . This promotes flatulence and constipation.
After a cesarean section (and other abdominal surgeries), chewing gum may help: Research shows that chewing gum in the first 24 hours after surgery can support bowel function. How often and when exactly chewing gum is particularly effective has not yet been researched – but it is worth a try, especially since no undesirable effects are to be expected.
Digestive problems after birth: what helps?
New mothers can specifically stimulate digestion after giving birth and thus counteract flatulence, constipation and other problems. For example with your diet: Food rich in fiber and plenty of fluids stimulate digestion. (Dry) fruit, easily digestible vegetables, whole grain products, linseed or wheat bran have a beneficial effect. Exercise also helps to stimulate intestinal movement. Postnatal exercises also have a positive effect: they stimulate the digestive tract.