When you are pregnant, one thing is certain: Your body is going through a lot of changes, some of which you won’t understand. From morning sickness to strange aches and pains to constipation, being pregnant is quite the adventure! Speaking of constipation, it’s an unfortunate fact that constipation during pregnancy is very common. Several reasons can cause this problem but rest assured because a few ways can help alleviate the problem of constipation during pregnancy. Here’s what leads to it and what you can do to get things moving again.
What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?
First, your baby is growing in there, and that means that your digestive system is ‘squeezed’ and has less room to work. Progesterone, a hormone that is naturally produced by the body, makes your large bowel much less active than usual. Add to that are the minerals and vitamins that your doctor will likely prescribe, and you have the recipe for serious constipation during pregnancy.
Vitamins that have added iron are especially bad about causing constipation. Over time, the baby presses down more and more, and that can lead to even worse constipation during the latest months of pregnancy.
Risk Factors of Constipation During Pregnancy
Being anemic. Some women are more likely than others to develop constipation during pregnancy. Those who are anemic are more likely to have the problem, as anemia can cause constipation. Ironically, the iron supplements prescribed to treat anemia make the constipation worse.
Lack of exercise. Regular exercise can help keep your bowels moving, so if you don’t exercise that often, you are likely to have more problems with constipation. Those who are on bed rest are especially susceptible, since exercise is the last thing your doctor has recommended for you.
Other risk factors. If you are already prone to constipation when you are not pregnant, the pregnancy can make that tendency worse. If you have bowel problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, pregnancy can make the situation worse. And finally, if you have had significant morning sickness and you aren’t eating as much as usual, your body’s digestion slows down – and that means that constipation can occur when it starts moving again.
How to Relieve Constipation During Pregnancy
Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with constipation, all of which are perfectly safe for your growing baby – and for you, of course.
Get plenty of water
|Water is like a wonder drug that works to relieve many problems, including constipation. Make sure to get plenty of it; experts recommend at least six to eight glasses a day. You can also try a glass of juice, such as prune juice – it serves as a natural laxative.|
Get lots of fiber
|A regular diet of fiber-rich foods can help keep things moving. Go for things like beans or brown rice, whole grains and fruits. You can even sprinkle a few tablespoons of wheat bran over your breakfast to help with constipation.|
Take a low-iron supplement
|If you have plenty of iron, you might not need a supplement that includes it. Ask your doctor if it is okay to take a low-iron or iron-free supplement during pregnancy.|
|Moving around can keep constipation at bay, whether you are pregnant or not. If you have been given the green light to exercise, get in plenty of easy workouts to keep things moving along.|
Use the bathroom after meals
|Your bowels might be most active after a meal, so make sure to plan out the time to go to the bathroom. Whenever you feel the urge to go, go – waiting can make constipation worse.|
Try a stool softener
|If your doctor says it is safe, try a stool softener to ease things up a bit. Start out with a low dose to avoid diarrhea.|
|Some mothers find that the right scents can work wonders on their body functions. Essential oils of lemon, lime, bergamot, grapefruit or sweet orange added to your bath can stimulate the need to go.|
|Mallow or dandelion tea have been used for centuries to combat constipation. Senna is also a great choice, but make sure to use it only with your doctor’s permission, and never in the third trimester because it can lead to Braxton Hicks contractions.|
|Massaging certain parts of the body can help ease ailments, and in this case, massaging the arches of your feet can spur your body to eliminate. Ask your partner to do this, or do it yourself, for five minutes on each side.|
|A spot about three finger-widths below your belly button corresponds to the body’s need to go to the bathroom; gently press on it a few times each day. You can also go to a professional for further acupressure remedies.|
Psyllium or flaxseeds
|Found in health food stores, these natural remedies can add more bulk to your stool, thus making it easier to pass. Speak to your doctor to make sure it is okay to use these before you give them a try.|
|Many mothers swear by homeopathy, but you must absolutely talk to a professional before you try any of this on your own. If you are curious, speak to someone who deals with homeopathic medications for a living.|
When Should You Be Worried?
Constipation is not often a serious problem. However, if you are also suffering from severe abdominal pain, passing mucus or blood into the toilet, or having diarrhea between bouts of constipation, you might be suffering from something more severe.
Hemorrhoids are a common problem with constipation. When you strain to go or when you pass a hard stool, the small veins around your anus can become irritated and enlarged. Though this is a problem that often goes away soon after the baby is born, it can be very uncomfortable. Speak to your doctor about the best remedies.