Pregnancy is tough. You’re exhausted, bloated, nauseous, broken out, and your feet and ankles are so swollen that they look like a hot water bottle with toes. As if creating life wasn’t enough of a challenge, over half of pregnant women must also contend with a backed up bowel. Constipation is likely to strike during the first and third trimesters, and it can last for weeks if you’re not proactive.
What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?
It is not uncommon for women to suffer from constipation during pregnancy. However, most women choose not to talk about it out of embarrassment and other reasons. Let’s look at some causes of constipation during pregnancy:
1. Eating And Drinking Less:
If you are one of those women who suffer from severe nausea early in your pregnancy, you may have problems eating and drinking. In this gentle condition, any loss of nutrient will cause bowel stiffness. If you tend to vomit more than usual, you might want to think about eating some natural digestives to soften those hard stools.
2. Hormonal Changes:
When you become pregnant, your body goes through various hormonal changes. Some of these changes may relax some muscles, sometimes including the muscles designated to squeeze food into the digestive tract. This muscle relaxation can lead to constipation, especially if you don’t eat fiber or don’t have enough water in your diet.
Another reason for constipation in pregnancy is also an increase in a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone helps relax the smooth muscles all through the body, including the digestive tract. It ensures that food passes slowly through the intestine and in turn through the digestive tract.
You need to remember that white pasta, cakes, bread and other white flour products are made from refined flour, and no longer contain the same amount of fiber. This causes slow movement of food into the digestive tract, often triggering constipation. These foods usually absorb liquids and form a stretchy plaster like substance. This plaster like substance can worsen your constipation.
4. Iron Supplements:
Although it is advisable to eat iron supplements during pregnancy, iron isn’t exactly something that is easily digestible. Iron usually clings to the intestine and only a little part of it is apportioned for the blood. This leftover iron combines with other undigested substances and clings onto the intestine. If you have a healthy diet, which includes many natural sources of iron, you shouldn’t take iron supplements. Tweak your diet to cease the use of iron supplements, especially if you have a low-fiber and low-water diet.
Solutions for Constipation During Pregnancy
With precious cargo onboard, most doctors advise natural, nontoxic solutions to get things moving again. But that doesn’t mean spending more time on the toilet trying to move the immovable. Straining on the toilet can lead to hemorrhoids or even anal fissures. You don’t want to push, but you can make things a little easier on your colon by trying a few of the tips listed below.
Eat More Vegetables
Whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds all contain fiber which helps bulk up your stool to make it easier to push through. Many foods have a natural laxative effect. Beans are an excellent option, but if your stomach is iffy with legumes, I recommend adding chia and flax seeds to your diet. They naturally absorb water, forming a gel-like layer around the seeds so that they can add some much-needed moisture to your stool.
Throw two or three tablespoons of chia or flax into your morning oatmeal. Use them to add a little more texture to your salads. You can even soak chia seeds overnight in juice. If you’re feeling adventurous, put three tablespoons of chia seeds in a shaker bottle with a few ounces of prune juice and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight, and in the morning you’ll have a fiber-filled snack that’ll help you go. Just make sure to give it a good shake to separate the seeds.
Adding a lemon to a warm glass of water helps stimulate your taste and smell, and also acts as a great catalyst for the digestive system, flushing out toxins and other undigested material from the colon. You can have some concentrated lemon juice. However, adding a little bit of water lessens the intensity of the lemon flavor and helps add fluid to your bowels. Warm water and lemon have been known to induce peristalsis or bowel contractions that help you pass stool.
Go for a Walk
While getting around requires some logistical planning for many women close to term, a little exercise can work wonders. Many doctors recommend low-impact exercise like swimming, going for a short walk, or light stretching. Even pacing around the house can help your bowels unload their cargo. Talk to your doctor about other ways to be more active.
Oranges are rich in dietary fiber, and vitamin C. One of the main reasons for constipation is a lack of dietary fiber. Thus, oranges are one of the best remedies for constipation. Increase fiber intake a little bit every day, until you get to 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. You can also consider eating other citrus fruits like grapefruit and grenadine.
Drink More Water
When trying to calculate your water needs, you’re going to need to do a little math. Divide your body weight in half and add 40 to calculate the number of ounces of water you need to drink when you are pregnant. So if you’re 150 pounds and pregnant, you need to drink about 115 ounces of water a day when you’re close to term. That’s just shy of a gallon, but don’t fret if that sounds like an overwhelming amount of water. There’s no need to flood your system with that much water if you just found out you’re pregnant. You have months to work up to that amount as your baby grows.
Wondering how to cure constipation during pregnancy? Prune Juice is widely hailed as an effective cure for constipation. All you need to do is have prune juice 4 to 6 times in a day to ease constipation and soften the stool. If the concentrated taste of prune juice is too strong for you, dilute it with a bit of water and add a slice of lemon.
In the early weeks of pregnancy, constipation is normal, and we tend to ignore it. However, it can soon escalate into a severe problem, and we need to keep a check on it. One effective remedy for constipation during early pregnancy is massaging your stomach. Remember to do this gently. Use your fingers to massage your tummy in a clockwise direction. If you are at a risk of premature labor, or the placenta is low in the uterus, avoid this remedy.