Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation (Hard Bowel Movements) is one of the common problems which affects your digestive tract causing pain and stress. It usually affects 3 out of 4 pregnant women usually occurring in the first trimester, but may also happen during the third trimester due to the pressure from the growing uterus. The hormone which is responsible for this condition increases its level in the 9th and 32nd week of pregnancy.

Causes

  • Iron supplements: Affects your digestive system making the stool black.
  • The weight of the baby: Pressure of the growing baby in the uterus may force the digestive system to act abnormal causing constipation.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Progesterone relaxes all the muscles in the body including the intestinal tissue which lowers down the digestive tract resulting in constipation.
  • Changes in the diet: During pregnancy, a woman wants to eat certain types of food which may disturb her stomach.
  • Improper intake of fluids: Due to less consumption of water and certain other liquids, constipation becomes more common during pregnancy.

Other Causes

  1. Oral Iron Supplements
  2. Lack of Exercise
  3. Dehydration
  4. Pelvic Pain or Tailbone Pain
  5. Stress

Symptoms

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Low appetite
  • Blood in the stool
  • Low bowel movements (less than 3 in a week)
  • Hard Feces (makes it difficult to pass leaving one feces in the rectum)
  • Rectal bleeding occasionally
  • Pain, Cramps or Lower Abdominal bloating

Foods to Eat during Constipation

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Corn, pumpkin, Carrots and Sweet potato
  • Broccoli, Leafy greens
  • Raw food
  • Brown rice, Pasta, Lentils, Whole grain cereals
  • Strawberries, Blueberries, Cranberries
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Unprocessed Bran and Oats

What to avoid?

  • Mineral oils
  • Laxatives
  • Harsh aperients
  • Castor oil

Complications

  • Hemorrhoids (Piles)
  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Rectal bleeding

Home Remedies

  • Lemon: It facilitates an increase in the bowel movements helping stool to pass easily. Mix lemon and honey in warm water and drink it on a daily basis.
  • Vitamin C rich foods: Eat an orange or salmon on a daily basis as they are rich in vitamin C
  • Flaxseeds: Add ½ tbsp of flaxseeds to your daily diet as they contain omega-3 fatty acids that help in retaining the lost fluids in the body.
  • Bananas: Eat a banana twice a day as it loosens the stomach and helps the stool to pass quickly.
  • Grapes: Relieves constipation
  • Green tea: Provides multiple benefits while relaxing your body and mind. Take it twice a day.
  • Cranberry juice: It is rich in fiber and drinking it once daily relieves constipation.
  • Kiwi: It is one of the best remedies and eating it will soothe the condition quickly.

Prevention

  • Take a small dose of Iron supplements
  • Regular exercise and yoga
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids
  • Eat a high-fiber diet
  • OTC medications like Metamucil relieves constipation.
  • Avoid Caffeine
  • Laxatives result in the uterus as well as bowel contractions hence harming the mother as well as the baby.
  • Practice pelvic floor exercises
  • Take Prenatal vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium.
  • Avoid using mineral oils as they lessen the absorption of the nutrients.
  • Eat small frequent meals

Laxatives safe for treatment

Laxatives forming in bulk

  • Bran
  • Psyllium

Stool Softeners

  • Calcium or Docusate Sodium

Lubricants

  • Mineral oil

Osmotic Laxatives

  • Sorbitol
  • Magnesium Sulfate
  • Magnesium Hydroxide
  • Lactulose Causing excessive Gas.

Stimulants

  • Senna
  • Bisacodyl

Note: Stimulant Laxatives should be brought to use when Laxatives do not work as they can cause cramps in the Abdomen. Contact your healthcare provider before taking any options and remedies as it may cause bleeding in the Rectum area and Hemorrhoids.

Laxatives to avoid

  • Magnesium Citrate (Category C- Pregnancy drug)
  • Polyethylene Glycol (Category C- May harm the infant)

When will it end?

Many women may face this condition throughout their pregnancy because of the increased Progesterone levels. Nevertheless, eating high-fiber foods and practicing yoga or exercises can help relieve constipation.

References

  1. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/constipation-during-pregnancy/
  2. https://www.huggies.com.au/pregnancy/health-and-care/pains/constipation
  3. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/home-remedies-to-treat-constipation-during-pregnancy/#gref

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