Constipation during pregnancy is not something you should feel shy about. After all, about half of the pregnant women out there experience it…! However, it’s easier than you think to treat or even avoid it.
Why is Constipation so Common Amongst Pregnant Women?
Constipation is quite common amongst pregnant women for several reasons:
- Pressure from the Uterus: one of the major reasons for constipation amongst pregnant women is the growing uterus and belly. The growing baby puts pressure on the intestines and rectum, which makes it harder to relieve.
- Increased Progesterone: progesterone is a hormone related to our sexual and reproduction systems. During pregnancy your body produces increased amounts of it. One of the side effects of the increase of progesterone is a relaxation of your intestines muscles. This relaxation makes it harder for the intestines do its job properly, thus causing constipation.
- Too much Iron: during pregnancy you will probably have more iron than usual, from food and nutritional supplements. However, iron is notorious for the constipation it may cause. Finding the right balance of iron in your pregnancy diet will help you deal with constipation.
- Not enough Fiber: fiber helps pushing the food and waste through the digestive system. Not enough of it in your diet when pregnant may lead to constipation.
- Not enough liquids: our digestion system needs plenty of water to work properly. Not having enough of it will decrease our metabolism and cause constipation.
- Mental and Emotional Stress: the hormones, the expectation, the hard days… it’s no secret that the months of pregnancy can be quite an emotional journey. It’s also well known that stress may lead to digestion difficulties, amongst them constipation.
How to Treat and Prevent Constipation while Pregnant?
Although you can’t do much about the pressure from your growing belly and the hormones, there are some really simple actions you can do which might treat and prevent pregnancy constipation:
- Different types of Iron supplement: Consult with your physician and ask which iron supplements alternatives are recommended. You might want to try and take the supplement with orange juice which can help you enhance the iron absorption and also will help you get more fibers in your diet. There are some “Soft Iron” supplements which are better tolerated by woman who suffer from constipation. Note that iron is extremely important for both the mother and the baby. Therefore, before changing anything with your pregnancy nutrition, consult with your physician and/or a professional nutrition expert. Tell them you are constipated, and together you can assemble a new diet regimen.
- More Fiber in your Pregnancy Diet: in case you are wondering what to eat when pregnant to ease your constipation, the answer is more fiber. For most pregnant women 25-30 grams of fiber per day can make a world of a difference in case of constipation. Some foods which are rich with fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grain products, corn, flax, breakfast cereals, poppy seeds, and more.
- Drink More: to allow the fiber do its work, drink about 10-12 cups of fluids each day. Water is the best, but fresh juice, and even soup are good as well. Prune juice is another good drink to treat constipation (and indeed, many pregnant women drink it on regular basis).
- Exercise: physical activity increases metabolism. Try including some moderate physical activity in your weekly routine, such as walking, swimming, yoga or Pilates for pregnant women.
- Rest & Relax: give yourself some rest! Take a break from everything for a few hours. Give yourself some “me time” – you’ll much better, and less constipated…
Is it safe?: Constipation Medicine for Pregnant Women
Many pregnant women wonder if it’s safe to have constipation medicine while pregnant.
Basically, it is not recommended to use such remedies, including laxatives. Such products usually contain a large amount of chemicals that your body might endure on ordinary days. But now that you are pregnant, these chemicals might hurt you and your baby.
Still, in some cases constipation remedies are necessary – if the constipation turns chronic or extremely painful for instance. If this is the case call your doctor, tell him the problem and he will provide you with the right medicine.