October 26, 2020
1 min read
The prevalence of constipation among women was two- to threefold higher during pregnancy and for the first few days postpartum, researchers wrote in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“Gastrointestinal function during pregnancy and in postpartum should receive attention because severe constipation may have a substantial impact on the pregnancy experience and may affect the mother’s physical and social heath status and impair the relationship between mother and newborn,” Moona Kuronen, a student at the University of Eastern Finland, and colleagues wrote.
Kuronen and colleagues reviewed responses to questionnaires that assessed bowel function and other gastrointestinal symptoms in five cohorts of women in Finland: women in their second trimester of pregnancy (n = 264); women in their third trimester of pregnancy (n = 210); women who had a vaginal delivery within the past month (n = 200); women who had undergone caesarean section in the past month (n = 203); and a control group who had not given birth in the past year (n = 200).
Among all women, those in the second trimester were the youngest (mean age, 29 years) and the women who gave birth by caesarean section were the oldest (mean age, 31 years). The researchers determined the prevalence of constipation based on the Rome IV criteria, which they wrote is the “gold standard” for assessing constipation but has not been validated for pregnancy.
Kuronen and colleagues reported that constipation occurred in 40% of pregnant women, 52% of postpartum women and 21% of women in the control group (P < 0.001 for all). A few days after delivery, the prevalence of constipation was lower after vaginal delivery than caesarean section (47% vs. 57%, P < .039). One month postpartum, the prevalence of constipation was 9% after vaginal delivery (P = .002 vs. the control group) and 15% after caesarean section.
“We were able to minimize selection bias as the subject characteristics were similar in the five study groups,” the researchers wrote. “Thus, we believe our data are sound.”