Updated: Feb 20
Of all the complications that can occur postpartum, it may surprise you the gastrointestinal (GI) changes are actually fairly common.
If you find yourself with newfound food sensitivities or an IBS diagnosis postpartum, you are certainly not alone. Many women experience this, and more and more people in general are being diagnosed with IBS everyday.
Let's take a look at why
Postpartum hormonal changes are massive. They rival other events in women's lives such as menopause. We actually see similar GI issues arise in the menopausal population as we do in the postpartum population and for the same reasons.
These hormone shifts can lend themselves to imbalances and even open the door to the onset of autoimmune disorders. The stress of these hormone changes can result in an overproduction of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
Too much cortisol over a long period of time can result in inflammation in the intestines.
This inflammation can result in particles from inside the digestive tract to begin leaking into the bloodstream, otherwise known as "leaky gut."
The body reacts to these particles with a histamine reaction, or allergic response, thus the onset of food allergies or sensitivities postpartum.
It is important to note that this process can occur in anyone that has undergone prolonged periods of stress, not just in the postpartum period.
Other problems that can arise postpartum along with bloating are
Hemorrhoids after birth can be debilitatingly painful. They may result in moms avoiding having bowel movements, which unfortunately results in more constipation and even harder stool when bowel movements do arise.
So what do we do?
Crafting a better stool is the most important task when dealing with constipation and hemorrhoids.
Eating slower, chewing food more carefully
Additional daily leafy greens
Improving sleep quality
Minimize straining on the toilet
If you are unable to relax on the toilet, your pelvic floor physical therapist can teach you proper voiding mechanics! This can greatly reduce hemorrhoids and discomfort.
Addressing Food Sensitivities and Autoimmune Disorders
If chronic bloating and digestive discomfort arise postpartum, it is important to get blood work done by your primary care provider to rule out hormone imbalances and autoimmune disorders.
But I also highly recommend Functional Medicine for this issue.
Chronic Bloating and GI Discomfort
Physical Therapy is an integral tool for individuals experiencing digestive changes postpartum. Your Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist will use hands-on techniques to help restore movement to your GI and improve fluid exchange within the system.
Scar tissue from c-sections, as well as chronic inflammation, can create physical adhesions to the intestines and require diligent work to mobilize on a regular basis in order to restore function.
Your Physical Therapist can also teach breathing techniques to optimize movement of the abdominal contents and calm the nervous system, as well as train your pelvic floor to move correctly during bowel movements.
If you don't have a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist on board, it's time to get one!
Click here to schedule with me today!