Women experience constipation during special occasions- constipation in pregnancy is one of them. There are seven causes of constipation during your pregnancy:
Ovaries produce progesterone, a female hormone, during the release of an ovum (egg). This hormone helps in making the uterus ready for pregnancy, if the egg gets fertilized. If fertilization doesn’t happen, progesterone levels drop and menstrual period starts.
- Pregnant women usually have much higher levels of progesterone than non pregnant women. Because, during pregnancy, placenta (What is placenta?) also secretes good amount of progesterone to maintain pregnancy by preventing contraction of uterus. This action of slowing down the muscular contraction also extends to intestines, resulting in slow movement of food in small intestines and slow movement of stool in the colon.
As stool stays longer in the colon, more water gets absorbed and stool becomes dry and sticky. Dry and sticky stool not only moves much slower but also gets glued to colon walls, causing constipation. Stagnated stool fills the colon, making its peristaltic movement much slower. It is the prime reason for constipation in pregnancy.
- As your pregnancy progresses, uterus puts pressure on the intestines, particularly colon, restricting the colon movement further, making your constipation more severe.
- If you are advised to take Calcium and Iron supplements, these can also cause constipation.
- One more reason to get constipated during pregnancy is: your water intake is low. Focusing more on fluids like fruit juice and health drinks instead of water, can cause constipation- because, fruit juices or health drinks are food. Food is not water. Food can never take the place of water. Such is the importance of water for the body. In fact, your body’s requirement of water during pregnancy increases.
- One of the key causes of constipation during pregnancy is lack of physical activity. As you are considered more special during pregnancy, people around you tend to pamper you by not allowing to do any work. Absence of active life makes your system more sluggish.
- Low Fiber Diet - During such pampering, if you tend to consume more low fiber foods like non veg, bakery foods, chocolates, ice creams, pizzas etc. your constipation will be more severe.
- Your own expectations and expectations of others can create a lot of tension in your mind. As mind and body are related, it can alter your body’s activity. This can aggravate your constipation further.
How do you deal with constipation in pregnancy?
If you were habitually constipated- pregnancy or not, no worry, let this phase pass by following the tips on this page. You can get rid of your problem permanently. This website will guide you effectively.
Hormonal changes are part of your body’s preparation and protection for your pregnancy. Welcome them. If such changes are causing a few discomforts, nothing to worry about. Take the situation in the right spirit.
However, you can do your bit to help your body- to reduce the effects of such changes. How?
Following a few do's and don’ts will see you through the situation with minimum discomfort.
Please remember, constipation in pregnancy is only temporary and will disappear once your baby is delivered.
- If your doctor prescribed iron and calcium supplements, see if you can replace them with iron and calcium rich foods, of course, only with the consent of your doctor. Most of the doctors give you easy and quick solutions and swallowing a pill is definitely quick and easy compared to food. By avoiding pill supplements, you are avoiding a good number of chemicals that get added during the preparation of medicines.
- Importance of water - Drink plenty of water as your body needs more water during pregnancy. Fruit juices and health drinks are food- even though they contain lot of water. Food is not water and can’t do what water can do. You need 4.5 to 5 liters of water per day.
- Avoid health drinks. Any processed food is not good- a number of chemicals get added during their preparation.
- Fruit juice is good but not packaged juices. Prepare pure juice from fruits. Don’t add sugar, salt or ice. Natural and fresh juice is wonderful for you during pregnancy. But one small disadvantage with juicing is, it filters out fiber, which is important for constipation- specially, constipation in pregnancy. The best way to get the goodness of fruits is, eat them slowly. Enjoy the taste. Swallow eatable fiber.
- No doubt, you are very special in your pregnancy. But, if people don’t allow you doing any work, it is going to be more harmful than good for you as well as for your baby. Minimum amount of physical exercises like walking, regular household work, mild exercises and yoga meant for pregnancy are good for constipation in pregnancy. It will also make you active and prevent putting on weight.
- You need good amount of fiber. All processed foods contain low or zero fiber, as they are made of refined flour. Animal food has zero fiber content. They do what you call adding fuel to fire to your constipation. Avoid low fiber foods like chocolates, ice creams, bakery foods, pizzas etc. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, unpolished grains etc. are good source of fiber. A few examples of Foods rich in fiber are given above.
- It is better to avoid laxatives as they cause harm to your colon on regular usage. Some laxatives induce vibration in the colon to move the stool. In due course, natural movement in the colon gets slower and you will need higher dose of laxative. You can get habituated and will be forced to use them even after pregnancy.
- Finally, relax. Everything will be fine. Don’t get tension work on you. Avoid tense situations- arguments, quarrels, shows and literature having tense content. Pleasant situations will not only ease your constipation in pregnancy but also will do a lot of good- to you and your baby. Some breathing exercises can make you relax.