More than 40% of women suffer constipation following childbirth, according to study

on 13 October 2020

A study from the University of Eastern Finland suggests more than 40% of women suffer constipation following childbirth and that women are 3-4 times more likely to suffer from it postpartum than any other time in their lifetime.

The study found that 44% of women have constipation during their second trimester and 36% during the third.

The incidence of constipation after vaginal delivery increases to 47%, with as many as 57% of women reporting having the condition following caesarean section.

Researchers involved in the study found the percentages to be surprisingly high and can have an effect on both physical and mental wellbeing.

Following the study’s publication in the in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, researchers recommend gastrointestinal problems should be discussed in maternity care with the woman early on in pregnancy.

Lead author of the study, Moona Kuronen, Lic. Med., said: “Constipation during pregnancy is more common in women who have suffered from it already before pregnancy, or during their possible earlier pregnancy.”

However, the study also showed that normal bowel function is restored quickly after childbirth.

It was also found that 68-82% of participants of the study reported thirst, flatulence and adnominal pain.

Docent Hannu Kokki, who led the research group, said: “There is very little research into the incidence of constipation during pregnancy and immediately after childbirth. Our findings show that constipation and other gastrointestinal problems are very common. This is why it is important to invest in their prevention and treatment, and in the related counselling, both during pregnancy and after childbirth.”

The study ‘Pregnancy, puerperium, and perinatal constipation – an observational hybrid survey on pregnant and postpartum women and their age-matched non-pregnant controls’ can be found here.