Constipation Relief During Pregnancy

By Dr. Ritu Krishnatreye, B.H.M.S

Constipation relief during pregnancy

More than fifty percent of pregnant women suffer from constipation at some point during pregnancy. Though so common, constipation remains one of the least talked about aspects of pregnancy.

Many women feel embarrassed to discuss it. Others suffer in silence until it becomes a major issue for them. The good news is, constipation relief during pregnancy is easy and safe if you follow the natural methods found in this article.


Causes of Constipation

During Pregnancy

Constipation with its dry, hard stools can be the result of a number of things.

  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy relax intestinal muscles, thereby slowing down transit time of stool.

  • Iron and calcium supplements given during pregnancy tend to cause constipation.

  • Constipation in later stages of pregnancy can be due to the pressure of the uterus on the colon. This slows the normal movement of stool through the colon, leading to constipation.
  • As the pregnancy progresses, women tend to become less physically active, another contributing factor to constipation.

  • When cravings strike, there is a tendency to consume fatty foods that don’t have much constipation busting fiber.

6 Natural Ways to Relieve Constipation

During Pregnancy

Although constipation can be troublesome and frustrating, here are some ways you may be able to avoid it and get constipation relief during pregnancy instead!

1.  Eat a colon friendly diet

A diet rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber is the best place to begin for constipation relief. 

  • Fiber helps to add bulk to stool, to increase natural peristalsis, the wave-like contractions of the colon that move stool along.

  • Fiber helps to make the stool moist. This moisture means soft, slippery and easy to pass stools.

  • Dietary fiber also helps to maintain good colon health.

Include plenty of fresh fruits and veggies in your diet.

  • Leafy vegetables like cabbage, spinach and fenugreek are natural laxatives.

  • Broccoli and cauliflower contain a load of constipation busting fiber.

  • Pumpkin, carrot, cucumbers and tomatoes also help in stimulating bowel activity.

  • Prunes work wonderfully to improve the movement of intestines and clean the bowels.

  • Instead of refined flour products, focus on oats, bran products and whole grain food items.

  • Cereals with bran and whole grain breads are rich in fiber.

2.  Drink plenty of hydrating fluids

Dehydration is one of the main causes of constipation.

When the body is dehydrated, it will pull extra water from the colon to use elsewhere. This results in dry, hard and compacted stool.

Most people know that water is the best beverage for fighting dehydration. Drinking 6 to 8 glasses a day during pregnancy will keep dehydration away.

Drinking warm water after waking up  in the morning has a special effect for relieving constipation. This is probably why people find a hot cup of coffee or tea helps to stimulate a bowel movement.

If you find it hard to drink so much water, then juices, coconut water and raw, unpasteurized milk may also help you to keep hydrated.

Drinking too much tea, coffee, colas or other caffeinated beverages may actually cause dehydration.

These drinks act as diuretics, expelling more water from the body than they add.

3.  Exercise

Although heavy exercise should be avoided during pregnancy, staying active enhances bowel activity, giving way to constipation relief during one's pregnancy.

Swimming, mild aerobics or just taking a walk is usually sufficient. These exercises not only help in relieving constipation, but help in maintaining the flexibility of the pelvic muscles, which can make labor faster and easier.

Consult your health practitioner to learn which exercises are advised during pregnancy.

4.  Home remedies

soup constipation relief during pregnancy
  • Warm milk is an effective home remedy to soften the stool. Drink one glass of warm milk before going to bed to help get things moving when you get up.

  • Cabbage soup is another home remedy commonly used for constipation. Prepare it by pureeing cabbage leaves and boiling them in water. Just be careful not to drink too much.

Some people use castor oil for relieving symptoms of constipation. However, castor oil or other mineral based oils are not safe to use during pregnancy.

5.  A daily magnesium supplement

Epsom salt and Milk of Magnesia have been used by doctors to treat constipation.

However, because of the huge dose of magnesium (up to 4,000 mg.) in a single dose, long-term use of these supplements is not advised.

On the other hand, a magnesium supplement that supplies the recommended daily allowance of 300 to 400 mg. of daily magnesium can be quite effective at overcoming constipation.

Since 80% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet, taking a magnesium supplement may actually result in certain health benefits

Concentrated sea minerals contain magnesium sulfate, recommended for constipation relief, and magnesium chloride, recommended for meeting the body’s need for magnesium.

Sea minerals contain a host of trace minerals that may be beneficial in several ways.

  1. Reduce the risk of eclampsia in pregnancy

  2. Nourish skin and hair 

  3. Relax the body and mind

6.  Stool Softeners

If the above mentioned remedies do not work, I advise the use of stool softeners. However, stool softeners and most other laxatives should generally be avoided, since they can cause dependency.

Stool softeners reduce the transition of water out of waste materials so stool remains soft and easier to pass.

7.  Stimulant laxatives

Stimulant laxatives force peristalsis, the contracting of the colon that moves stool along.

The longer they are used, the more the body relies on them for peristalsis. Eventually, they lose their ability to stimulate contractions of the colon, which can result in chronic constipation.

Conclusion, constipation relief during pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy can be quite unpleasant. But by incorporating the right kinds of foods and staying hydrated, many constipation problems can be avoided.

A daily magnesium supplement is a great way to treat moderate to severe cases of constipation during pregnancy.

(Return from Constipation Relief During Pregnancy to Pregnancy and Constipation)

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