Constipation during pregnancy is a common complaint of women. In fact, about half of all pregnant women report having problems with constipation. There are several reasons why this problem plagues women at such as a special time in their lives.
Why does it happen?
Sometimes pregnancy vitamins are to blame. These have higher amounts of iron in them and iron is known to cause constipation or to exacerbate the problem. However, you can’t eliminate your prenatal vitamin and you need the extra iron they provide.
Another reason why women often experience constipation is that the body produces more progesterone during pregnancy. This is the hormone that helps your uterine lining to support our growing baby. However, it also relaxes the smooth muscles in the body.
Your digestive system is made almost entirely of smooth muscles and when they’re more relaxed, they don’t move food through as quickly through your system. After your food is digested, the solid waste will spend more time in the large intestine.
There, water will be removed from it and if your digestive system moves slowly sometimes too much water is removed. This makes it difficult for you to go the bathroom.
How to prevent it?
Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to stop the hormone problems. However, you can do much to remedy your constipation while pregnant. It’s important to take care of your body so you can be more comfortable.
Drink lots of water
The first step to alleviating constipation in pregnancy is to drink plenty of water. Water helps to hydrate the body and keeps your waste from becoming too solid and hard. You need at least six to eight glasses every day and you should avoid caffeine which can dehydrate you.
Getting plenty of movement also helps your bowels to move more smoothly. Moving physically helps the body to pass waste. You can perform many exercises safely while pregnant including swimming, walking, and yoga. As long as your doctor doesn’t object, this is a great way to avoid constipation and to improve your overall health and pregnancy.
Watch your diet
You also need to pay attention to the amount of fiber you have in your diet. Fiber helps your waste to bulk up and move through your body more quickly. You’ll find that you have a much easier time passing stool if you have a high fiber diet.
The best sources of fiber during pregnancy include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. You can also add wheat bran to your diet in order to improve your regularity during pregnancy as it’s a great source of natural fiber. You can add it to cereal or yogurt to eat it.
Fruit juice can also help your bowels to move more regularly. Try drinking a glass of apple juice, pear juice, and prune juice to help alleviate your constipation during pregnancy. One glass a day should be enough to help you get some relief.
You also need to plan for going to the restroom after meals. This is the time when you’re most likely to need to go because you’ve started the digestive process. If you hold in your stool, it can increase your chances of becoming constipated.
Make sure to stay near a restroom after meals so that you can go when you need to. If you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, don’t fight it or ignore it. Always make time to go. This will go a long way toward providing you with relief.
Speak to a doctor
If you’ve tried all of these things, but constipation is still an issue it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor. You may be able to switch to a prenatal vitamin that has lower iron levels. You may also be able to take stool softeners to help you pass feces more easily.
Being pregnant and constipated can be very frustrating and annoying, but it’s usually harmless. But there are times when you need to seek medical attention to make sure that there’s not something else going on.
For example, if you’re experiencing abdominal pain along with constipation or you’re having constipation and diarrhea that alternate, you need to call your doctor. You should also talk with your healthcare provider right away if you pass any blood.
Most of the time blood passed when you’re constipated comes from hemorrhoids or small tears in the anus called fissures. These are annoying and uncomfortable, but not life threatening. And usually when your pregnancy ends, they begin to go away on their own.
But ultimately you can feel good knowing that this is just a short phase of your body and that after you deliver these problems will go away and your digestive system will get back to normal.