Is It Safe to Take Laxatives while Breastfeeding?

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Constipation is difficulty in passing bowel motions which may be described as hard, infrequent or changed in volume and/or consistency. Frequent constipation is caused by a change in diet or by medication. Individual experiences of bowel motions are subjective, but constipation affects many people at some time in their lives. It is common towards the end of pregnancy and following pain relief for childbirth when it may be difficult due to perineal stitches. Laxatives are medications used to treat constipation.

In this article:

Causes of Constipation while Breastfeeding
What Laxatives are Safe for Breastfeeding?
Should Laxatives Stopped During Pregnancy?
Is it Safe to Take Laxatives while Breastfeeding?
How Do You Relieve Constipation while Breastfeeding?
Side Effects of Laxatives

Can I Take Laxatives While Breastfeeding?

Causes of Constipation while Breastfeeding

There are several factors that may lead to constipation in women during breastfeeding, including a lack of dietary fiber, not drinking enough fluids or taking pain medications after delivery. If one had a cesarean delivery, the surgery, anesthesia and decreased physical activity can slow the bowels and cause constipation. If one has a vaginal delivery, fear of perineal pain from the stitches or fear of tearing the stitches might hold back on a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids can also lead to fear of straining and constipation.

What Laxatives are Safe for Breastfeeding?

Osmotics are considered as laxatives that work by pulling water into the intestines. Some examples of osmotics are salts such as magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) and sodium bisphosphate (osmoprep) and sugars such as lactulose and polyethylene gycol (miralax). Osmotic medications are not well absorbed by the intestine, so very little gets into the bloodstream. This means exposure to the pregnancy is small.

Fiber or bulk laxatives include psyllium (metamucil) and methylcellulose (citrucel). Since these ingredients generally do not enter into the bloodstream, pregnancy exposure is seen to be unlikely.

Stool softeners include seena (senokot), bisacodyl (correctol) and castor oil (made from the seeds of castor beans). Mineral oil is a lubricant. These products enter the bloodstream in small amounts, so there may be small exposure to the pregnancy. Stimulants and lubricants may cause stomach cramps which can be severe.

can laxatives be taken while breastfeeding?

Should Laxatives be Stopped During Pregnancy?

Talk to the doctor before making any changes in the medications. It is important to consider the benefits of treating constipation during pregnancy. Constipation may cause pain and other health problems in pregnancy such as cramps, hemorrhoids, and breakdown of the anal tissue. Treating constipation will help reduce the risk of these problems.

Dietary changes such as increasing fluids and eating high fiber foods such as whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent constipation. Regular exercise can also help. Although occasional constipation is common in pregnancy, talk to the doctor if constipation becomes an ongoing problem. The doctor may want to confirm the diagnosis of constipation and see how dietary and exercise changes can help before discussing medical treatment.

Is it Safe to Take Laxatives while Breastfeeding?

The medications in some laxatives might get into the mother’s bloodstream but the amount that passes into breast milk is usually low. Mineral oil can get into the bloodstream and breast milk in greater amounts, so it should be used carefully. Contact a doctor for specific laxative medication.

There is some evidence on occasional reports of loose stools in infants when the mother uses laxatives. But there have not been reports of other problems in breastfeeding babies when the mother uses recommended doses of laxatives.

How Do You Relieve Constipation while Breastfeeding?

Try to relieve constipation naturally and easily before using a laxative while breastfeeding. Make sure to consume a diet high in fiber with foods such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains such as oatmeal or high-fiber cereals. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, mothers need fluids to make milk and to help with constipation. Regular exercise can also help relieve constipation but check with the doctor prior to starting an exercise program, especially had a surgical delivery.

Side Effects of Laxatives

Laxatives are considered well-tolerated, safe and effective. Still, some common side-effects are –

Conclusion

Laxatives can be used while breastfeeding but after talking to the doctor. Try simple and natural methods to avoid constipation.

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