Question: What causes hard stool or constipation after c-section? What home remedies soften stool after surgery?
Having to go through nine months of carrying a baby may be troubling for a lot of women, and most times, it may take some time for you to completely recover from the physical and emotional stress of pregnancy.
While some women may undergo normal vaginal delivery, it may require an extra effort for some women with a possibility of a c-section.
A c-section comes with its risks, and though serious complications do not happen all the time, it is possible for women to have internal bleeding, infection of the abdominal incision, and sometimes death.
While these are serious complications, you may only encounter minor issues after your surgery, and constipation after c-section is a common experience for women.
First of all, constipation after c-section is not entirely abnormal. This is because, after your surgery, your body undergoes some changes that can slow down the movement of food in your intestine resulting in constipation.
Having said that, it is important you inform your doctor of any concern you have after your surgery. This is because, sometimes, constipation after surgery could be due to intestinal injury resulting from trauma to your gut.
During a c-section, an incision is made in your abdomen and uterus, and its possible to see parts of your intestine during the procedure. If there is trauma to your gut, it will possibly stop you from defecating accompanied by pain, vomiting, and fever.
But don’t panic, its very unlikely that this will happen, and in most cases, constipation after c-section occurs because of effects of pain medications, anesthesia, dehydration, and also, the prescriptions you have been taking right before and after your surgery.
This article explains the main reasons you have constipation right after or months after your surgery, and how to quickly ease your symptoms and feel okay.
What causes constipation after c-section?
If you are worried why you have constipation after your surgery, here’s why it happens
1. Pain medications during and after surgery
During your operation, especially in countries with developed health facilities, epidural or spinal anesthesia is used to make you completely feel no pain during the procedure.
So, after your surgery, you will need pain medications to make you feel calm during your recovery. One of those medications used are opioids, and while it does an excellent job as a painkiller, it also has some side effects like dizziness, nausea, sedation, vomiting, and constipation.
Opioids act on your intestines and make the moment of your gut slower than normal. Because of this slow movement, it now takes a longer time to empty your bowel, and so, your body tried to absorb so much water from your stool resulting in constipation.
2. Dietary changes before and after surgery
Another reason you could experience constipation right after your surgery is dietary modification around your surgery.
Typically, to prevent regurgitation of food from your stomach or any other complication during your surgery, your doctor will require that you do not take any food (including water) few hours before your surgery.
Because of this, your stool is not getting enough water, meaning, you may experience constipation for a while.
Also, after your surgery, your doctor waits again for bowel sound to return (oh, I mean bowel movement), and during this period which can last between hours and days, you are required not to take any food or water. This could further make you have a hard stool or constipation.
3. Effect of anesthesia
I’ve already mentioned that anesthesia is critical to make you relax and feel no pain during your surgery. But here’s the thing, your intestines also relax too, meaning that it will need some time for gut movement to return, resulting in constipation.
4. No quick Ambulation after your surgery
After your surgery, you are confined to your bed for the first few hours to allow you to heal from the stress of surgery.
Because of this inactivity, it also affects the movement of your gut. In fact, after your surgery, your doctor wants you to get moving around quickly. While this has additional clinical benefits, it also helps to boost your gut movement.
When to worry about a hard stool or no stool after c-section
Most of the times, constipation is not something you should be scared of. It happens to a lot of women after c-section. Usually, it takes some time for your body to get back to normal, and you need to be patient during your recovery.
Having said that, some signs may indicate that you will need to see your doctor right away. Here are some of those danger signs
Continuous fever for days
Fever after c-section is not a good sign. It means something may be wrong, and likely, it could be due to ongoing infection of inflammation.
If your bowel is mistakenly traumatized during your procedure, you will experience fever, and inability to pass stool. see your doctor
Constipation and vomiting after your surgery is also not a good sign. It could happen from minor anesthesia effect, though, in causes of gut trauma, you will also have similar symptoms. Talk to your doctor.
Abdominal distention and pain
Abdominal distention and pain after c-section are tricky because your womb is still trying to contract in few days after your surgery.
However, if you feel excruciating abdominal pain and swelling with no stool, it is not a good sign. See your doctor
How to relieve constipation after c-section
Because straining, hard stool, and constipation after c-section can be discomforting, we’ve put together steps that can quickly ease your symptoms
Take small diets and snacks
Your body takes in food through the mouth and removes feces from the other end (the anus). So, this is pure logic; if you take in food, your body will automatically signal removal of feces from the other end.
Take a lot of water
Water helps to keep you well-hydrated and soften your stool. Its also important you avoid caffeinated beverages because it could worsen your symptoms.
Eat lots of fiber diet
Taking lots of fiber help push you gut content quickly to aid defecation. So, take lots of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain cereals, rice, bread, pasta.
Try to move around after your surgery as this can help your gut movement return. The quicker you ambulate after your surgery, the less likely you will have severe complications from constipation.
Are there serious complications from constipation?
Your doctor knows that constipation after surgery can have undesirable consequences. So, they quickly help you to prevent constipation from happening.
If food is allowed to stay in your gut for too long, it can get too hard and ultimately block your intestines and gut movement.
This may require further actions by your doctor ranging from digital rectal examination to dislodge your stool or rarely surgery.
Other complications of constipation are rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids, and wound breakdown.