Bowel Problems

Bowel problems are very common in the early postnatal period.

Constipation is common as you are less active, too busy to eat & drink properly & often taking medications that are well known for this complication(opiates such as Tramadol or codeine).

Below is some useful information on normal bowel habits ( there are many misconceptions about this!) and guidelines to help you.




The defecation process is the final act of digestion by which your body expels faeces (poo) with a normal frequency. This varies from three times per day to three times per week. Your faeces (poo) should be well formed but soft.

Constipation refers to a hard stool (poo) that requires straining and frequently feels as though you haven't emptied effectively.



  • Time

    If you need to empty your bowels, you should do so immediately. Do not put it off. In the morning, the reflex is strongest after breakfast.

  • Fibre

    Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. A soft smooth faeces (poo) that requires no straining means your fibre intake is sufficient.

  • Fluid

    Drink the recommended 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day.

  • Exercise

    Activity stimulates the bowel.

  • Stress

    Stress can stop the normal reflexes needed to empty your bowel.

  • Meals

    Eat regularly, do not skip meals or go on fad diets.

How to Empty Effectively

If you pull your stomach in, close your lips and bear down to empty - you are straining. This will actually close off the anus.  You should try the following steps instead.

Position on the toilet

Place yourself in the position as shown below. Sit with your knees apart and higher than your hips. Lean forward keeping your back straight but relaxed.

  1. Brace

This means to make your waist wide. Push the tummy muscles outwards widening your waist. If you are having difficulties with this, then place your hands on your waist and say “iid” or “ssss” or “mmm”. Remember it is important not to strain.

  1. Bulge

When you are ready to pass the stool, push your abdominal wall forwards from your waist. Say “uuuu” to open the anal sphincter. By bracing and bulging, your pelvis becomes an effective funnel for emptying.


Hot Drink Therapy To Aid Constipation


  • Drink a hot drink upon waking
  • Do 10 minutes of brisk exercise (e.g. walking, sit to standing)
  • Have breakfast
  • If there is a strong urge to empty your bowels, then go to the toilet. If there is not, wait! Do not go to the toilet for the sake of it.
  • Position correctly
    • Lean forwards, elbows on knees, legs apart. Use a footstool if you are short.
    • Brace – this means to make your waist wide.
    • Bulge – this is to push your abdominal wall forward from your waist. This will open your anal sphincter.
    • Bracing and bulging turns your pelvis into an effective funnel for emtying.
  • Tummy massage
    • Stroke upwards on the left 6 times
    • Stroke clockwise around your bellybutton for 1 -2 mins
  • Stroking your calf muscles on the outer side can also help.

Food Chart