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An enema is a procedure used to stimulate bowel movement by inserting liquid or gas through the rectum. An enema may be given to administer medication, to stimulate bowel movements, or to treat constipation. An enema can even be given to pregnant women to ease constipation, which is a common problem during pregnancy. It is given just before delivery to clear the bowels. But giving enemas to pregnant ladies is no longer common. There are several benefits of administering enemas but many people prefer alternatives. Read on to know about the different types of enemas and whether or not they are safe for a pregnant woman.
Are Enemas Safe During Pregnancy?
Administering an enema during pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy is not safe. Giving an enema during the first trimester could trigger a miscarriage and in the third trimester, it could lead to premature labour by causing contractions. Pregnancy is a delicate time and certainly not a time to experiment or try something new. Hence, it is best not to give an enema to a pregnant lady. However, if a doctor thinks it is necessary, it can be administered under the guidance of a professional.
What Are the Types of Enemas Used in Pregnancy?
Enemas during pregnancy are not really safe. However, there are some types of enemas which could be administered to expectant mothers, only if they are prescribed by a doctor.
- Mineral Oil Enema: Mineral oil is a laxative and a lubricant, which makes it an essential component of enemas used for treating constipation. Administering a mineral oil enema can make the bowels absorb water slowly. The oil attaches to the faeces and retains the water content in it, thus softening it. As a result, the stool passes easily. But sometimes inserting oil can also introduce harmful bacteria in the anus so a pregnant woman should consult a doctor before using any type of enema.
- Coffee Enema: Coffee enemas are usually administered to detoxify the liver and to cleanse the colon. But doctors generally don’t recommend this as coffee enemas can be potentially dangerous if administered incorrectly or too often.
- Soap Suds Enema: A soap suds enema is often used to treat constipation. For a thorough colon cleansing, a mild soap is added to the enema. It is a combination of distilled water and a small amount of mild soap. The soap can irritate your bowel but it will stimulate bowel movement.
- Probiotic Enema: A healthy balance between the bad bacteria and good bacteria helps maintain a healthy digestive system. It also reduces the risk of serious infections and disease. A probiotic enema is used to insert probiotics through the rectum. A probiotic enema helps eliminate the harmful bacteria in the colon and increase the number of good bacteria, thus keeping a healthy balance.
- Sodium Phosphate Enema: This enema is a medication prescribed by the doctor to treat constipation. It works by drawing water in the large intestine and causes a bowel movement within 5 minutes of administering it.
- Tap Water Enema: It is an injection of tap water into the rectum. The enema makes the colon to expand and initiate a bowel movement. A second enema may be required in case of serious constipation. However, this is not safe and a doctor must be consulted before you plan to administer it.
- Lemon Juice Enema: Made by mixing lemon juice and water, this enema helps provide relief from colitis, which is inflammation of the colon.
Benefits of Enemas
Mentioned below are some of the benefits of using enemas. Administering enemas to a pregnant woman can be beneficial for her, however, the potentials risks of enemas outweigh the benefits, hence they should be avoided.
- Help Treat Constipation: Enemas provide relief from constipation. Administering enemas can also cure constipation in people who don’t respond to laxatives.
- May Help Detect Growth of Cancerous Cells: Enemas are used before a colonoscopy procedure which helps detect any cancerous growth or polyps.
- May Assist in Weight Loss: Administering enemas can help in weight loss and therefore kick start the weight loss process.
- May Cleanse the Colon: The enema loosens up the hardened stool thereby helping it to pass easily. As a result, it flushes out built-up waste and cleanses the colon.
- Refreshes the mind: Removing all the toxins and old matter from within your body can relax you. As a result, it will make you feel lighter.
Alternate Ways to Treat Constipation in Pregnancy
As administering enemas during pregnancy is not safe and can affect the health of a pregnant woman, it is suggested that you try certain home remedies for constipation. If you also suffer from the problem of constipation during pregnancy, here are some home remedial measures that you can try.
- Eat Yoghurt: Yoghurt is rich in probiotics and therefore can help in getting rid of the bad bacteria from the body. The calcium present discourages the growth of cells in the lining of the colon.
- Eat High-Fibre Food: Eat high-fibre food items such as legumes, veggies, and whole grains to keep your gut health in check. Fibrous foods help in moving the food easily through the food canal and can ease the problem of constipation.
- Drink Water: Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day can help flush out toxins from your body. It may also help reduce water retention and keep your body hydrated.
- Exercise: Being active during pregnancy can help assist in the smooth flow of bowel movement. You can indulge in light exercises. You can walk for 10-20 minutes or practice yoga for about half an hour.
- Take Psyllium Seeds: Taking psyllium seeds can help cure constipation. However, it is suggested that you consult your doctor before taking these seeds as these seeds can react against some medicines.
- Try Acupressure: You can also resort to acupressure instead of an enema or any medicine.
- Aromatherapy: Relaxing your body and mind can help in bowel movement. Therefore having a soothing bath with aroma oil could help.
Do You Need to Take an Enema During Labour and Delivery?
Administering an enema during labour and delivery is not common now in various countries. However, in India, many doctors consider it if the need arises. Many doctors believe that administering an enema during labour or delivery can make the whole process of labour and delivery an easier experience for a pregnant woman or else she might defecate while pushing out the baby. Administering an enema also lowers the chances of the mother and the newborn contracting any infection. Moreover, passing stools after the delivery may be uncomfortable for a mother because of the fresh stitches and sore body. However, nowadays, it is said that all these claims are mere assumptions. Thus, it can be said that giving enemas during labour and delivery is a matter of choice rather than a necessity.
When to Visit a Doctor
Constipation during pregnancy can be very uncomfortable. It causes faeces to harden causing bleeding from the rectum and lower abdominal pain. If you have constipation in pregnancy, you should consult a doctor if you have tried every possible harmless home remedy for constipation.
You might be tempted to take mineral oil or coffee enema at home but you shouldn’t. Administering enemas during pregnancy is not safe and should be taken only if it is suggested by your doctor. Administering an enema in the first trimester of pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage. And in the third trimester, it could result in premature labour. You must consult your doctor before taking an enema at home.
Enemas can prove to be a boon for some and bane for others, especially for pregnant women. If you are uncomfortable taking an enema before childbirth, all you need to do is mention it in your ‘birth plan’ or to your doctor. The best way to stay clear of constipation and enema during pregnancy is to eat fibrous foods and fruits and drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. This will not only help you improve your bowel movements but also enrich your body with essential nutrients and keep your body hydrated.
Also Read: Rectal Bleeding During Pregnancy