Every woman has her own unique experience of pregnancy, often fluctuating between feeling healthy and miserable.
Nausea, vomiting, bloating, tender breasts, increased urination and fatigue are some of the most common complaints.
However, there is one symptom a pregnant woman may feel a bit embarrassed to discuss – constipation.
Many pregnant women may find it difficult to deal with this problem because they are sure which of the common remedies for constipation are safe for their baby.
Progesterone is a hormone that helps the uterus prepare for pregnancy.
Once fertilization has taken place and the fetus begins to grow, this hormone is even more important. Progesterone helps to nurture the fetus and maintain an environment for its growth.
Unfortunately, progesterone also has the effect of relaxing the colon muscles that move stool through the colon. Slower moving stool leads to constipation.
Besides the effect of progesterone, there are several other factors that may contribute to constipation during early pregnancy, such as:
A woman who has previously struggled with constipation is likely to find the condition persists during pregnancy.
In fact, because of the higher levels of progesterone and some of the other factors discussed below, the constipation may be worse during pregnancy.
One of the first reactions women have when they learn they are pregnant is to become more cautious about their physical activity.
A lack of physical activity is one of the well-known causes of constipation. A pregnant woman who does not get sufficient exercise may find this to be a contributing factor to constipation.
Pregnant women may feel a greater level of stress and anxiety. A disturbed emotional state is a known contributor to constipation.
Morning sickness with its nausea or vomiting may make it more difficult for some women to eat or to keep it down.
When we eat less than normal, the amount of waste generated is also significantly less, and may not be enough for proper stool formation.
This forces food to stay longer in the gut until enough accumulates to stimulate peristalsis. The longer stool stays in the colon, the more water the colon extracts. Stool becomes dry and hard, and more difficult to eliminate.
During the early stages of pregnancy, iron supplements are prescribed to provide adequate nutrition to the mother as well as the growing baby and can cause constipation.
Iron has a constipating effect, especially when it isn’t well absorbed. Taking an iron supplement may contribute to constipation and gas during early pregnancy.
Constipation can add to the stress and discomfort of pregnancy.
It is therefore important to take steps to deal prevent it. Once the causes of the constipation has been identified, it is relatively easy to find the right solutions.
1. Dealing with a history of constipation
Women with a history of constipation should consider a change in diet. Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day can help women stay hydrated.
Getting 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day can help to make stools bulky and soft, making elimination easier. Prune juice is great for constipation, as are fiber rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and most beans.
Taking a daily magnesium supplement is a helpful and safe way to deal with constipation during pregnancy. Magnesium works as a natural osmotic laxative that draws water into the colon.
During pregnancy, the recommended 300 mg. of magnesium a day may be enough to actually eliminate constipation.
Since magnesium is a nutrient that most people don’t get enough of, taking a magnesium supplement may result in numerous health benefits, both for you and your baby.
2. Becoming more physically activity
Your doctor may be the best person to advise you concerning an exercise routine that is appropriate for you for overcoming constipation during early pregnancy.
Keeping physically active can assist in helping to regulate bowel movements and reduce the risk of constipation.
3. Dealing with stress and anxiety
Anxiety and stress tend to slow down peristalsis, making constipation more of a problem. That is why it is important to find ways to reduce stress.
Practicing deep breathing techniques and getting some exercise prescribed by a qualified professional can help to reduce stress during pregnancy.
4. Dealing with morning sickness
Nibbling on a high carbohydrate snack like crackers or other bland foods every hour or so may help to reduce nausea. Doing so keeps the stomach from becoming empty.
Consuming a healthy amount of food, especially foods high in fiber, help to give bulk to stool, aiding in peristalsis.
5. Dealing with iron supplements
Iron supplements may be necessary during pregnancy, as iron is important for the health of the mother and child.
The reason iron can cause constipation is that it is not well absorbed, and they body keeps it in the colon longer to try and absorb more. Splitting the dose up to 3 or 4 times a day can help to optimize absorption.
A magnesium supplement is also helpful in increasing the absorption of iron.
It may be possible to offset iron’s constipating effect by increasing fluid and fiber intake and avoiding processed foods, ice cream and cheese-containing foods.
As mentioned before, a magnesium supplement is helpful in keeping stools softer.
Constipation is common during early pregnancy. Then as the pregnancy progresses, the fetus grows larger and starts to exerts pressure on the pelvic area, further aggravating constipation.
Too much straining during elimination can increase the risk of developing other complications such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures.
It is important to tackle constipation before it becomes worse. Several constipation remedies are available, including prune juice, magnesium and Psyllium husk to alternative therapies such as aromatherapy and reflexology.
It is important is to find a remedy that is both effective and safe for mother and baby.