Typically, a person will need to poop three or more times per week. Some folks pass bowel movements twice or even thrice per day. However, sometimes it’s not all smooth. Constipation is common and can affect all age groups, including infants. Luckily, there are home remedies to treat constipation and get things moving.
Causes of Constipation
Constipation in adults has a variety of possible causes. However, sometimes there may not be an obvious reason. Some of the common causes include:
- Lack of enough fiber in your diet
- Not drinking enough fluids, especially water
- Lack of exercise
- A side effect of medication
- Depression, stress, or anxiety
- Ignoring the urge to relieve yourself
For infants and children, apart from the causes above, constipation may be a result of infrequent bowel movements. Constipation is usually painful, and because the child associates going to the bathroom with pain, they will try to hold it in. This makes the situation even worse.
Home Remedies for Constipation in Adults and Pregnant Women
On top of the early signs of pregnancy, like headaches, morning sickness, and extreme fatigue, constipation is a common occurrence. Reports show that 38 percent of women suffer from constipation during pregnancy.
If you’re among those who experience constipation, here are some tips to help move things along…
Increase Intake of Fiber-Rich Foods
Eating enough fiber promotes a healthy digestive system. Fiber is known to bulk up the product in your digestive tract and increase the consistency of bowel movements, making them easy to pass.
High-fiber foods include whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, plums, broccoli, spinach, and other vegetables.
Increase Water Intake
This may seem like a no-brainer, but most people don’t usually consume the daily recommended amount of water. When you’re dehydrated, your body starts to pull water from all over, including the colon, leading to constipation.
Drinking at least six to eight glasses of water a day can help soften the stool, making bowel movements frequent and comfortable.
Believe it or not, exercising helps prevent constipation. Physical activities like running or jogging can jostle the intestines and colon in a way that encourages stool movement. If you’re pregnant, you can engage in safe exercises like walking around the neighborhood.
Lemon and other citrus fruits are packed full of vitamin C and water-soluble fiber. Lemons also help flush out toxins and other undigested food. Taking a warm glass of lemon water several times a day can help relieve constipation.
It’s best to use fresh lemon juice to make your lemon water. All you need is one lemon and a glass of warm water. Simply squeeze the fresh lemon juice into the glass of water, mix it well and sip it slowly.
Ginger herbs have been used for ages to treat issues of the digestive system. It’s said to decrease the pressure on your lower intestines, inducing bowel movement. Ginger may also help treat other symptoms associated with constipation, such as cramping, bloating, and nausea.
It’s safe to use for pregnant women and is even recommended for people who experience nausea during pregnancy.
Cod Liver Oil
Rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, cod liver oil is an effective remedy for constipation. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation in the intestines and regulate the hormone prostaglandin, for optimal movement of bowel material.
Other remedies to consider include:
- Fermented foods, like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh
- Warm liquids, like peppermint, chamomile, black, or green tea
- Aloe vera
- Coconut water
Home Remedies for Constipation in Infants and Children
Breastfed babies hardly get constipated, although they may not have a bowel movement for a few days up to a week. You may notice your baby straining or going red in the face when doing a normal poo. However, it doesn’t mean she’s constipated unless the poo is hard and causes discomfort or pain.
True constipation in babies is rare, and if it happens, should be checked by a doctor. Giving the baby solids that aren’t right for her or formula that’s too strong may be to blame. To treat constipation in babies:
- Offer them extra drinks of water.
- If bottle-feeding, check the formula tin to make sure it’s the right one for the baby. Make sure to measure the water first and then add the formula powder.
- Offer them a gentle tummy massage.
- A warm bath may help the muscles relax. Be ready for them to poo in the bath.
- Keep your toddler busy with physical activities to help stimulate bowel movement.
- If you’ve already introduced solids (from six months), include some fibrous foods in her diet. Add some fruit juice and fresh fruits like oranges to help stimulate bowel movements.
- Give her milk of magnesia, which contains magnesium hydroxide, an osmotic laxative. However, the distinct chalky taste may not be tolerated by all kids. In that case, consider mixing it into a milkshake.
Constipation in pregnant women, infants, and children is often related to eating habits and withholding stool due to the pain and discomfort of hard stools. There are several home remedies you could try, but not all may work effectively.
Find what works best for you. For babies, don’t use anything that might be harmful. If in doubt, ask your doctor for recommendations.