Taking Stool Softener While Breastfeeding: Is It Safe?

Last Updated On: 

April 11, 2018

You’ve experienced all the hardships and difficulties that pregnancy has to throw your way, and you’ve made it out alive despite all the challenges. Pat yourself on the back, you deserve it!

But hold on for just a second there – if you think these challenges and difficulties are now over just because you’ve given birth to your baby (or babies, in case you’ve delivered a few bundles of joy), think again!

While many of these hardships will indeed come to an end now that baby isn’t in your tummy anymore, others will carry on over to the breastfeeding phase after delivery – such as bathroom problems that’ll leave you longing for some stool softener to make it all easier.

Is It Safe To Take Stool Softener While Breastfeeding?

It turns out that there is light at the end of the tunnel after all, because taking stool softener after giving birth is perfectly fine and safe – even for mothers who choose to breastfeed after delivery.

As long as a nursing mother takes stool softeners in correct dosages and isn’t overdoing it, there’s no scientific research out there that indicates any danger on the breastfeeding baby.

It’s not like these stool softeners have any sort of active ingredients in them that can get into your bloodstream and get passed on to your baby through breast milk.

For anything to pass through your breast milk and make its way into your baby’s body, it must first be absorbed through the intestines. Since stool softeners are not absorbed through the intestines, there’s almost no chance of that happening.

Not just any kind of stool softener will do, though – it’s best to stick with something like Colace for maximum efficiency and safety. You could also give Docusate Calcium, Lactulose or something generic like Equate a try, but Colace is a fan-favorite among breastfeeding mothers.

As a matter of fact, you won’t even have to buy some stool softener yourself at times. In many cases and right after delivery, the doctors and nurses in the hospital where you gave birth might give you some Colace to have you well prepared in advance.

And they don’t leave it up to you to decide whether you would like to take it or not, they often make you take it while you’re still in the hospital because they know that it’s going to be a little while post-delivery until you become regular again.

How To Do So Safely

As with everything medication or supplement related that you might be taking while breastfeeding, it’s crucial to get the dose just right, or else complications might arise for both you and your baby.

The nursing staff at the hospital where you gave birth will let you know about the necessary dosages you should be taking.

The best thing you can do to stay as safe as possible is to always ask your doctor about it.

Even if it’s very easy for you to get hold of a stool softener over the counter just by walking in to any pharmacy, consulting with your doctor about it (at least) is always a good idea.

Sometimes, certain supplements or medication you might be taking after delivery might negatively interact with certain stool softeners – and your doctor will be able to tell you what you should avoid in this case.

Why Should I Take A Stool Softener While Breastfeeding?

1) Constipation

Well, first things first, most mothers will want to do this because they’re constipated.

You shouldn’t just rely on stool softeners if you’re constipated, though, you should really look into the root cause of the problem and make any necessary changes.

Relying on stool softening laxatives to relieve constipation is a bad idea since these laxatives only offer a temporary solution. Once you stop taking them after a while, you’ll find that constipation has reared its ugly head once again.

So, begin with the most basic of lifestyle changes such as eating more fibrous food (green and leafy vegetables especially), drinking enough water through the day to prevent dehydration and leading a more physically active lifestyle (since exercise promotes a healthier and more efficient digestive system).

2) Pain

It’s not always about constipation, though.

Sometimes, you just want the waste that comes out of your body to be – well – softer!

A lot of moms are very uncomfortable when pooping shortly after giving birth, because of different stuff they might have went through during the course of their pregnancy and/or during actual childbirth.

For example, you could possibly have developed a fissure throughout pregnancy or during childbirth because of all that physical strain you went through and hard pushing you did.

Regardless of how you gave birth exactly, whether that be through natural childbirth or through having a c-section, the strain takes its toll on you and your body.

In such a case, you’ll need your stool to be as soft as possible since that area is now much more sensitive and could easily bleed during even the slightest of difficulty defecating.

How Much Colace Can I Take?

Again, you should talk to your doctor about this and follow their orders about dosages, period of treatment, other medications and/or supplements to avoid while taking Colace, and so on.

With that being said, experts usually advise that most breastfeeding mothers take 100mg of Colace 2 times a day.

If you need to increase that amount because it’s not going as well as you had hoped it would n the bathroom, you can up the dosage to 100mg of Colace 3 times a day instead of 2.

Whether it be Colace or any other stool softener you might be taking at the time, experts advise that you discontinue use after a maximum period of three days at once.

A Quick Warning About Dehydration

When taking a stool softener during your breastfeeding phase, you’ll have a higher chance of getting dehydrated because of frequent loose bowels and possibly even diarrhea.

If dehydration happens and you don’t try to counter that by drinking ample amounts of water throughout the day to replenish what’s been lost, this will affect your ability to breastfeed properly since dehydration causes a decrease in milk production in the mother’s body.

Besides the recommendations on the amount of water we all hear we have to drink on a daily basis in normal circumstances, you’ll have to drink even more than that to make up for all water lost due to more frequent visits to the bathroom.

When To Stop

If at any point in time you notice your baby has become unusually gassy or is having loose stools/diarrhea themselves, stop taking the stool softener and talk to a physician about what’s happening.

You should also obviously talk to your doctor if you notice any other unusual symptoms arise after you start taking a stool softener.

Don’t Use Laxatives

Be careful not to get things mixed up and end up using a stool softener that has laxatives as well.

Colace, for example, is laxative free and will only make your stool soft so it’s easier to pass without the need to strain as much and feel pain while doing so – while something like Dulcolax is a laxative and is much more likely to give you diarrhea instead.

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