Avoiding Constipation

“I wish that being famous helped prevent me from being constipated.”  ? Marvin Gaye

Constipation is something that can affect everyone, even Marvin Gaye!  Avoiding constipation is important as straining to empty your bowels can stretch and weaken your pelvic floor. It is also more difficult to tighten your pelvic floor muscles if you have a full bowel. Try these suggestions to help with constipation:

  • Eat and drink regularly to keep your bowel active.  Make sure you drink plenty of fluid – around 7 or 8 drinks a day. If you become dehydrated then your poo will be harder.  Make sure you get plenty of fibre in your diet too. Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day will help with this. Adding wholemeal or wholegrain foods can also help to increase the amount of fibre you eat.
  • Making sure that you are active and take regular exercise helps to keep your bowel active too.
  • Bowels love routine and will often let you know they are ready to empty at similar times each day. We are often too busy to listen to this message or find that it is inconvenient to go to the loo. Many people will also choose to hold on until they are at home before opening their bowels. The most common time that your body will want to move its bowels is after a meal, particularly breakfast.  Try to listen to your body and go when it tells you.
  • The most important thing is not to try to force things if you don’t feel the urge to go. If nothing happens when you are on the loo, try the suggestions below and if things still don’t move, then try again later.
  • Drink a warm drink before moving your bowels and walk around for a while.
  • Try massaging your tummy gently to stimulate your bowel. Move your hand from the bottom right hand corner of your tummy, up to the top of your tummy, across to the left and down to the left bottom corner.
  • Slump your back and then arch it whilst you are sitting on the loo. Doing this a few times helps your tummy muscles to stimulate your bowels.

If things still refuse to shift then see your GP for advice on where to take things from here.

By Alison Bourne MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH

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