Constipation during pregnancy

Pregnancy is generally a marvelous time for women. No words can describe the feeling of having a baby inside of you, growing, moving, and can even communicate with you in ways that only you can understand.

Majority of moms-to-be, this wonderful feeling is worth the petty troubles and issues that can possible arise during pregnancy, like constipation.

Yes, unfortunately constipation is one of the most common issues during pregnancy and it can be very uncomfortable.

Almost 50% of pregnant women get constipated. Well, we all know that this will come to pass, but you cannot just let it reign for nine months. There are so many things that you can do to ease the condition of constipation.

constipation-during-pregnancy

Although constipation is one of the most familiar and even universal issues of pregnancy, it still remains as one of the least discussed about faces of pregnancy. It can be embarrassing to discuss about so some women choose to remain in silence and suffer.

Pregnancy week by week

Some are just really reluctant to converse about bowels and how it functions. Some may be thinking that what they are experiencing is something so unique.

That is why this article is created, for you to know the whys of constipation and how to alleviate its symptoms.

What constipation during pregnancy really is?

Oh, of course we all know that constipation is when we are having a hard time to do number two. But what causes constipation during pregnancy is what we are going to talk about. And yes, the criminal is still the hormone that changes when women get pregnant.

When you are pregnant, your body generates large amount of female hormones than usual. This rapid increase in hormones is essential to secure that the pregnancy will progress normally. However, it spontaneously slows down the intestinal activities particularly the digestion.

Progesterone is just one of these hormones that we are talking about and it proceeds by soothing the muscles that includes the muscles in our bowels that made it less capable to transport food and the waste along their intended destinations.

Constipation attributes to the passageway of small, hard bowel movements. It associates to the regularity of the poo and not the frequency of passing.

The more that your poo sits in your large intestines, the large amount of water it absorbs back into the body, leaving the motion nearly void of any water and when the large intestine pushes the poo along your bowel wall against the rectum when there is almost no fluid left that is when the constipation occurs as it leads to painful bowel movement.

Why is it so common during pregnancy?

Aside from hormonal changes that affect the constipation during pregnancy, there are still other factors that affecting it, like:

  1. Constipation because of decreased in water and food ingestion. During the first trimester, most pregnant women suffer from morning sickness. Enduring severe nausea, you may find it challenging to drink or eat sufficiently and enough to move your bowels. Vomiting can also decrease the level of water in your body and makes you dehydrated which will eventually cause a firm stools.
  2. Constipation because of your diet. It is essential to comprehend that refined products have already lost much of its fiber particularly flour products like cakes, white breads, pasta, white rice, and pastries. These products do not have the capacity to move through your digestive area very well. It is one of the main cause of constipation because it absorbs all the liquid that you consume and it creates a plaster-like stuff which causes your poos become expanded.
  3. Constipation because of the iron and calcium supplements. When you are pregnant, your doctor may let you take iron supplements. But the thing is, typical iron supplements are not being absorbs very well in the digestion procedure and it is just a very small amount that makes its course into your bloodstream. Most of its residue remains in the intestines and that leftover joins with the other substances and become viscous and tar like and they are incapable of moving out of the bowel.
  4. Constipation because of lack of exercise. Since pregnancy hormones causes your food digestion to slow down. Exercising or moving around will help to stimulate your bowel and improve your digestion.
  5. Ignoring the urge. Delaying, putting off, and ignoring your body’s signal will definitely change the tone of your bowel wall and your rectum that means your body will eventually become less responsive to the usual evacuation alerts. Remember that the longer the poo stays in the bowel wall the drier and harder it becomes.
  6. Constipation can be because of the growing uterus inside the womb. As the baby grows inside, it employs more pressure to you lower abdomen and your intestines which may result fecal barriers that will result constipation.

The signs and symptoms of constipation during pregnancy

  • You are only having less than three times of bowel movements in a week.
  • Discomfort in abdominal area.
  • Going to the bathroom to do number two but having a difficulty because the feces are dry and hardened.
  • Feels like some of the feces are still inside the rectum area.
  • Your appetite is decreasing.
  • Occasionally bleeding because of the hard feces.
  • Cramps and pain.
  • Your feces are hard and very difficult to pass.

Things that you can do to prevent constipation

  1. Choose to eat foods that are high in fiber like brown rice, whole-grain cereals, beans, vegetables, fresh fruits, prunes, and wheat bran every single day. It is ideal to consume more than 25-35 grams of high-fiber diet each day. However, try to avoid foods that may cause constipation such as:
  2. Fried potatoes
  3. White bread
  4. Cereals that are toasted or popped
  5. Large servings of meat
  6. Chocolates
  7. Sweets
  8. Drink lots of water and other natural fruit juice. Make sure that you will increase your fluid intake up to 10 to 12 cups a day. Other pregnant women reported that drinking warm liquid upon waking up in the morning helps a lot to stimulate their bowels. Remember fibers absorb liquids so it is always works in combining fluids and high-fiber diets to easily eliminate the waste. Adjust your water and other liquid intake depending on your activities like if you are exercising and sweating a lot or if it is hot and humid.
  9. You can actually choose to eliminate iron supplements. Iron supplements are not necessary if you are getting enough from the foods that you eat. Know which type of foods that is rich in iron and adjust your diet to avoid constipation. Iron can be sourced out from green vegetables, meats, nutritional yeast, and molasses. And if you really need to take iron supplements, choose to take herbal extracts to supply you iron intake without having the fear of developing constipation. This is something that you should coordinate with your doctor to ensure that you are getting enough for you and for your baby.
  10. Move and do some exercise routines and do it regularly. Do not think pregnancy as if it is a disease or some sort of health conditions that sets limitations to your body. You can still be active and engage in activities such as swimming, walking, or riding a stationary bicycle. You can do yoga and other moderate exercises that will help in stimulating your digestion and bowels.
  11. Be on it when you feel it. Do not neglect the urge of going to the bathroom especially if it is just after you have eaten your meal. The bowels are most active every after meal so make sure to book yourself and use the bathroom after you eat.
  12. Make sure to avoid drinks that will make you pee more than you should like cola, alcohol, coffee, and tea. These drinks are diuretic and may dehydrate you which will make you more prone to constipation.
  13. Avoid the processed foods and do not be deceived by their packaging that they are natural and healthy kind of food. It is best to cook your own meal.

Are there any remedies that you should not be using to treat constipation?

As far as I know, there are several remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of constipation that cannot be used by pregnant women because some of them can cause contractions. So if you do not want to deliver your baby too early, make sure that you know the don’ts of constipation during pregnancy.  And these are as follows:

  • Mineral oils. Do not self-medicate your constipation using mineral oils such as castor oil because it reduces the capability of your body system to absorb nutrients. And it can lead you to premature labor.
  • Laxative pills and tablets are a big no during pregnancy as it can stimulate your uterine to contract leading to early labor and it can also cause dehydration.
  • Enemas and suppositories can only be used if your doctor said so.

Rule of the thumb is to never do self-medication in any case during your pregnancy.

Contact your health care provider before making any decision to avoid complications and to avoid putting yourself and your baby in a harmful and dangerous situation.

Natural and home remedies that you can try to treat constipation

  1. Drink a glass of warm milk before putting yourself to bed every night.
  2. Make a cabbage soup. Many pregnant women reported that it works wonderfully in regularizing the bowel movements. Here is the recipe:
    1. Simply boil the cabbage and put the broth into a large bowl. Put on some shredded fresh cabbage on top and enjoy. Consume the soup two to three times a day for a maximum relief from your constipation.
  3. Try the magic of watermelon. This is being used by the old midwives to treat constipation and the preparation is as easy as boiling watermelon seeds to produce a tea. You can prepare plenty of it in advance so you can have a sip several times during the day. It can also strengthen the development of your baby’s kidneys.
  4. Chamomile tea is another kind of tea that you can drink. It is being used for over centuries now. It relaxes your intestinal tract which will help you move that bowel more easily. It also relaxes your nerves and relieves insomnia. But use it with caution since there are untested issues that higher doses can cause miscarriage. Just to be safe even if that issue is not yet proven by the doctors, limit your intake for not more two cups each day.

Constipation is usually not serious though it can be a manifestation of another health or pregnancy issues. Make sure to communicate with your doctor as openly as possible to avoid more serious concerns in the future.

Contact your health provider immediately if the symptoms of constipation are accompanied with other symptoms such as abdominal pain, pass mucus or blood,  or alternates with a diarrhea.