I do not recommend senna, the herbal remedy for constipation. This substance, although advertised as natural, causes cramping and secretion of electrolytes and water from the colon. This is called a secretory diarrhea, which at best is unpleasant and at worst causes an electrolyte imbalance in the blood. Some patients drink prune juice for constipation, but I do not recommend this either since its active ingredient is phenolphthalein, which can also cause a secretory diarrhea as well as bowel dependence.
If you have any constipation or abdominal discomfort during or after your pregnancy, you should consult with your doctor. Sometimes a medical condition such as a thyroid problem (hypothyroidism) may develop during pregnancy and cause constipation.
Dr. Christine Frissora is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology. She is currently a faculty member in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and is an Assistant Attending at The New York Presbyterian Hospital.
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