Constipation During Pregnancy
Constipation during pregnancy is a very common problem that statistically plagues over half of all pregnant women at some point in their pregnancy. There are many different reasons why constipation happens to pregnant women, including the production of the hormone progesterone. Prevention and treatment for constipation tend to run side by side, as pregnant women try to cope and deal with the continuous problem.
When there is abdominal pain, discomfort, difficulty passing stools and/or the absence of passing stools on a regular basis, constipation is occurring.
Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy
The main cause of constipation during pregnancy is due to the production of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is known to slow down the digestive system and the movement of food through the digestive tract. But progesterone isn’t the only reason why women battle constipation throughout their pregnancy term. Other causes include:
Too much iron- Many women have trouble balancing their iron intake during pregnancy. Iron supplements can make constipation worse as women try to keep a healthy amount of iron in their bodies while pregnant.
Pressure on rectum- As the pregnancy term continues and the uterus continues to grow, there becomes an increasing amount of pressure on the rectum. This pressure can create havoc when trying to pass stools, and result in constipation.
Pressure on intestines – Like with the rectum, as the uterus grows it also applies pressure to the intestines, making it difficult to have bowel movements.
Emotions - Emotions are known to play a crucial role in a pregnant woman’s health. Too much worry and anxiety can create constipation.
Lack of exercise – As many women face fatigue during pregnancy, exercise is an important role, especially when it comes to constipation. Light exercises can help food pass through the digestive tract easier, plus exercise is beneficial to help other issues pregnant women face, including fatigue, positive attitudes and mood swings.
Low-fiber diets - Fiber is a great source of nutrition, and it’s also known to help breakdown food and make it easier to pass through the digestive tract. Eating meals that are high in fiber can help a pregnant woman prevent constipation issues that may arise.
Prevention and Treatment of Constipation
As mentioned before, preventing and treating constipation tend to run side-by-side. Many of the treatment methods are also prevention methods a pregnant woman needs to take to stop or prevent constipation from happening. If you are trying to prevent constipation or relieve it if you’re experiencing it, try doing some of these things:
Drink plenty of fluids – Fluids, including natural fruit juice such as apple or prune juice, and water can prevent and treat battles with constipation. Drinking 10-12 cups of fluids a day, especially if you’re increasing your fiber, is essential to help eliminate issues with constipation.
High-fiber diets – 25-30 grams of fiber per day will help with constipation issues. You can get this amount of fiber by including fresh fruits and vegetables, breakfast cereals, bran and whole grain breads into your diet.
Exercise - Exercise is a great stimulant, especially when it comes to your digestive tract. When you are not active, everything in your body tends to slow down. Taking short walks can help reduce chances of dealing with constipation throughout your pregnancy.
Reduce iron supplements- It’s never good to eliminate a supplement that you might need during your pregnancy, unless said so by your health care provider. It’s no secret that many women face difficulties trying to maintain the proper amount of iron in their systems. If you are one of those women who are taking iron supplements and are constipated, talk with your health care provider about possibly switching or reducing the amount of iron supplements you put into your system. Good nutrition can often times provide a sufficient amount of iron needed to maintain a healthy balance.
OTC medications - Taking over-the-counter medications such as Metamucil, can help soften stools and reduce constipation. It’s important you discuss what products are safe to take with your health care provider, especially when they are bought over the counter.
Laxatives - Many people argue that laxatives are bad for a pregnant woman since they sometimes stimulate uterine contractions and cause dehydration. Others say certain laxatives, such as the stool softener Colace are safe for pregnant women since the active ingredients aren’t absorbed by the body. It’s important you talk with your health care provider before taking any type of softener or laxative.