With pregnancy comes a number of changes to your body. For many moms-to-be, constipation is one of the symptoms of pregnancy. If you’re experiencing infrequent or uncomfortable bowel movements – constipation – don’t worry. This is quite common during pregnancy for many different reasons, which we’ll explain.
What Causes Constipation in Pregnancy?
- Having higher levels of the hormone progesterone, that slows down digestion
- Taking iron supplements, that can irritate your digestive tract
- Physical changes such as the weight of your uterus putting pressure on your rectum, this worsen constipation if you already have it.
What are the preventive remedies?
- Drink lots of fluids, such as water, prune juice, and other natural fruit juices.
- Consume high-fibre foods, aiming for at least 25 grams per day. Include vegetables, fruits, beans, whole-grain products and bran cereal in your diet. Increasing your fibre intake suddenly can cause a side effect of excess gas, so take care to eat your meals slowly and avoid swallowing too much air. Avoid carbonated drinks and chewing gum to help prevent a build-up of gas.
- Exercise regularly. Check with your healthcare provider to find out what you can safely do. Even simply walking more can help encourage your digestive system.
- Instead of eating three large meals a day, eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to make the food easier to digest.
Is there an immediate constipation relief plan?
Your doctor may prescribe one of the following
- A bulk-forming agent, which works by absorbing water and adding moisture to your stool to make it easier to pass. Make sure to drink extra fluids if you’re taking this medication.
- A stool softener, which adds liquid to your stool to soften it
- A stimulant, which uses a chemical to stimulate intestinal activity
Are there and potential complications of prolonged constipation?
If the symptoms of constipation persist for long and become chronic, it can cause
- Haemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your anus
- Anal fissures, which are tears of the skin in your anus
- Fecal impaction, which is when hardened stool accumulates in your intestines
- Rectal prolapse, which is when your rectum protrudes from the anus
If you are suffering from chronic constipation during pregnancy please consult your doctor as early as possible.