Pregnancy constipation is a common problem. As many as half of pregnant women get constipated at some point.
What causes pregnancy constipation?
Here’s the science (or the scoop on the poop):
The pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal tract. This relaxation, coupled with the crowding in your abdomen, slows digestion., and sluggish digestion can cause constipation.
This problem may be compounded later in pregnancy by the pressure of your growing uterus on your rectum. In addition, iron supplements can make constipation worse, which adds to the trouble for many pregnant women.
The good news, however, is that pregnant moms do not need to suffer from constipation or the often irregular, hard bowel movements and the pain associated with them. There are simple things pregnant moms can do to keep things moving and prevent pregnancy constipation.
Solution: Here are 5 tips for preventing pregnancy constipation:
Drink plenty of water (at least half your body weight in ounces). Many doctors say that a glass of fruit juice every day, especially prune juice, can also be helpful, but if you don’t like the idea of all that added sugar, you can stick to real fruit and get the added benefit of the fiber! Speaking of fiber . . .
Eat high-fiber foods — especially fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and becomes a gelatinous form, which may help to slow digestion and help your body absorb vital nutrients from foods. Insoluble fiber stays in its fibrous form, helps food pass through the digestive system, and adds bulk to the stool, which helps you to stay regular.
Exercise regularly! There’s no denying that walking, yoga, and just regular general movement helps ease constipation (bonus: it also leaves you feeling more fit and healthy).
Consider supplementing with magnesium (or try cocoa, which is naturally rich in magnesium) until things “get moving.” Magnesium helps alleviate constipation by relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract and neutralize stomach acid allowing your poop to pass on. Take it at night for a healthy bowel movement first thing in the morning.
If you are not taking a good quality probiotic, make sure you take that regularly. Most over-the-counter remedies for constipation, such as laxatives and stool softeners, aren’t all that helpful. But studies show that probiotics may ease constipation. Whether you take a supplement or get a quality probiotic from the food you eat, the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt and other cultured foods, have long been touted for their ability to ease digestive woes.
As a last resort, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with constipation. You may be able to take medicines like fiber pills and laxatives to help relieve the painful symptoms of constipation, but in pregnancy, not all of these may be safe or effective. Consult your doctor or midwife about which are safe for you if you experience pregnancy constipation that lasts for more than three days without a bowel movement.