Constipation During Pregnancy
Constipation During Pregnancy:
Natural Ways to Get Things Moving
Being constipated is no fun. Being constipated during pregnancy is a sick and twisted joke. The truth is, constipation is VERY common in pregnancy. In fact, there’s almost a 100% chance you will face SOME constipation at some point during your pregnancy.
3 Reasons You Might Be Experiencing Constipation During Pregnancy
In general, constipation can be caused by a variety of factors. Worry and stress, infrequent physical exercise, and a low-fibre diet can all cause you to experience constipation. However, if you’re pregnant, you could be experiencing constipation for other reasons.
Constipation during pregnancy is thought to be caused by the following:
Constipation in pregnant women is thought to be caused by hormones that relax the intestinal muscle, causes food and waste to move slower through your system.
- Consuming more iron than usual
Your doctor may have also prescribed you iron tablets. Additional iron in your diet can sometimes cause constipation. If you think that may be the cause, talk to your doctor about your iron intake and see if there are natural alternative to get the iron you need. Sometimes it’s just as simple as switching to a different type of prenatal vitamin.
In early pregnancy vomiting due to morning sickness, or not consuming fluids because you feel so nauseous, can contribute to dehydration. Water is an essential part of the placenta (which delivers nutrients to your baby) and amniotic sac (which cushions your baby throughout pregnancy).
Dehydration can cause constipation, aslo it can cause other health issues that can negatively affect you and your growing baby.
How can you prevent or treat constipation during pregnancy?
Prevention and treatment of constipation involve many of the same steps.
Here are a few things that you can do to help prevent constipation from occurring or treat it if you are already experiencing it:
- Eat a high fiber diet: Ideally, you will consume 25 to 30 grams per day of dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables, breakfast cereals, whole-grain bread, prunes, and bran. This helps ensure bulkier stools that are easier to poop.
- Drink a lot of fluids: Drink 10 to 12 cups of fluids each day. It is the combination of a high fiber diet and plenty of liquids that best help you eliminate your waste. Sweat, hot/humid climates, and exercise may increase your need for additional fluids.
- Exercise routinely: If you are inactive, you have a greater chance of constipation. Walking, swimming and other moderate exercises will help the intestines work by stimulating your bowels. Schedule exercise three times a week for 20-30 minutes each.
- Over-the-counter remedies: Always speak to your obstetrician before using over-the-counter medications to soften your bowel movements and reduce constipation.
- Reduce or eliminate iron supplements: Taking smaller doses of iron throughout the day rather than taking it all at once can reduce constipation. Talk to your obstetrician to manage iron intake during pregnancy
What remedies should not be used for constipation during pregnancy?
Laxative pills are NOT recommended for the treatment of constipation during pregnancy because they might stimulate uterine contractions and cause dehydration. Talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter fibre supplement or a laxative or stool softener.
Is constipation during pregnancy ever serious?
Usually not, but occasionally constipation during pregnancy can be a symptom of another problem. If you have severe constipation that’s accompanied by abdominal pain, alternates with diarrhoea, or you pass mucus or blood, call your doctor immediately.
Also, straining during a bowel movement or passing a hard stool can lead to or worsen hemorrhoids, can be extremely uncomfortable, though they rarely cause serious problems. In most cases, they go away fairly soon after your baby is born. However, if the pain is severe, or if you have rectal bleeding, call your doctor.
DR VANDANA BINWAL
SENIOR CONSULTANT OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY