Pregnancy may be an exciting time, but it’s also a time when you experience a lot of bothersome symptoms. Believe me, I know firsthand what it’s like to carry around that extra belly weight plus deal with pesky symptoms like pregnancy constipation, nausea at the first trimester and back pain at the third trimester.
This is why I’m ready with any help when I see a pregnant woman come up to the counter, looking frazzled and annoyed with all they have to deal with! I totally feel you, sistah!
So, back to this blog post — let’s talk about pregnancy constipation. More than half of pregnant women are bothered by this problem at some point in their pregnancy. Many may feel it as early as the first trimester, while some experience it during the later stages.
Why do I have Pregnancy Constipation?
One of the main reasons for this is due to the increased levels of the hormone progesterone (read more about it previous post – Constipation – What Causes It and What Foods Can Help). During pregnancy, progesterone levels increase to help your body sustain the pregnancy and meet the needs of the growing fetus. This hormone then slows down digestion and metabolism, making the food pass through more slowly. This is for more nutrients to be absorbed and thus be made available for the baby.
Sure, it’s beneficial, but the downside is that it slows down bowel movements as well, causing horrible constipation! In some cases, it gets worse during later pregnancy because your growing uterus presses down on your rectum. This leaves a much smaller space for stool to pass through easily.
Plus, iron supplements prescribed by your doctor can add to this problem! Iron, especially in high doses needed during pregnancy, can cause pregnancy constipation as well, making matters worse! Take all of these causes together, and you’ll
What’s the First thing you should do about your Constipation?
Because you’re pregnant, it isn’t really advisable to take medications at the first sign of this symptom. The first thing you can do is to try natural remedies like drinking a glass or two of prune juice or drinking warm fluids. If you need relief right now after an unsuccessful bout in the toilet, taking repetitive walks around the house can help.
You also have to keep in mind that it’s important to modify your diet (if you haven’t already). Up your intake of fiber-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Beans, dried fruits, peas, and lentils are great food choices as well! Of course, it’s also important to stay hydrated and drink water throughout the day.
What Other Things Can Help?
Exercise and stay active. Physical activity can help your bowels move along more easily. Plus, it also keeps you healthy and combats weight gain from your diet.
Eat small meals. Eating a large meal can cause food to be digested more slowly and increase the chances for pregnancy constipation. Try eating smaller meals but spreading them more frequently throughout the day. Instead of three large meals, break them down into about five or six.
Take probiotics. Probiotics like yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods like lacto-fermented pickles and sauerkraut can aid in digestion. Consuming probiotics regularly can help keep bowel movements smooth and easy.
Change your iron supplement. If you think your iron supplement is the main cause, try to switch to another type. Some women I’ve talked to have tried out different kinds of iron supplements until they found one that didn’t cause constipation.
What Medicines Can I Take?
If you’ve tried all of the above but still get pooping problems, there are a number of pregnancy-safe OTC products you can take. Psyllium, for example, is a fiber-packed laxative that helps bulk up the stool. It also attracts water into the colon and allows for easier bowel movements. Some other products that work in the same way are methylcellulose and calcium polycarbophil. Stool softeners can also be safe. Docusate is usually one of the OTC laxatives that pregnant women use. Just make sure that you get the right dose when taking it.
Stool softeners can also be safe. Docusate is usually one of the OTC laxatives that pregnant women use. Just make sure that you get the right dose when taking it. One thing to remember when taking OTC laxatives when pregnant is to ensure a proper diet and adequate water intake. Some laxatives may lessen the nutrients absorbed, so
One thing to remember when taking OTC laxatives when pregnant is to ensure a proper diet and adequate water intake. Some laxatives may lessen the nutrients absorbed, so it’s a good idea to up your intake of healthy foods. More water may be pulled into the bowels as well, so make sure you’re drinking enough.