Pregnancy is a special time in your life; however, it can feel uncomfortable and annoying sometimes. In addition to the weight gain, swelling and hormone influx, you might also experience mild to serious constipation. Find out what causes constipation during pregnancy and what you can do to ease the uncomfortable sensations.
Why do I Get Constipated during Pregnancy?
While constipation can happen at any point in our lives, constipation during pregnancy is very common.
During pregnancy, the body increases the levels of the hormone progesterone. When this hormone is released in higher quantities, your smooth muscles are relaxed—including the muscles in your intestines, colon and rectum, making it more difficult to pass waste.
As your uterus expands and your belly grows, your constipation could worsen, since your uterus will press on your rectal muscles and your colon. If you are also taking iron supplements or supplements containing iron during pregnancy, you might also experience more extreme constipation.
When Does Constipation in Pregnancy Happen?
Constipation usually happens during the first trimester of a pregnancy. After the first three months, your constipation should ease up on its own. If your constipation doesn’t go away after the first trimester, speak to your doctor about considering over-the-counter or prescription medications that are safe for both you and your baby.
If your constipation worsens after the first trimester, do not worry; since constipation can be caused by an expanding uterus, you might experience some discomfort or slower bowel movements.
The only way to know if your constipation is serious or chronic is to speak to your doctor.
How do I Ease Pregnancy Constipation?
Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can naturally ease the pain of constipation, without harming you or your baby. The easiest way to ease constipation is to increase the amount of fiber you eat. Try foods that are naturally high in fiber like papaya and broccoli. You can also increase the amount of beans you eat or drink two glasses of prune juice each day.
Your body needs plenty of water to pass stool regularly. Most people need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, but since you are drinking water for two, you may need to increase the amount of water you drink.
Even though your mobility is limited while pregnant, you still need to exercise and stay active.
You can perform gentle exercises, like swimming, walking and yoga while pregnant—all of which help your body relax and keep your bowels regular.
Use the toilet regularly, in the morning and after meals. When you create a routine for using the toilet, your body automatically resets your internal clock to move your bowels at specific times during the day. Your body is more likely to be able to pass stool in the morning, so make the morning one of your toilet times. Since it’s easier for your body to pass stool after you’ve eaten, try using the bathroom within 20 minutes of your last meal.
Change your prenatal multivitamin or iron supplement intake as advised by your doctor. Since the additional iron that can help your baby grow might be contributing to your constipation, try asking your doctor to reduce your dosage. If all else fails, you can also ask your doctor to prescribe a gentle laxative or stimulant to help ease the discomfort.
Though constipation can be a pain, it doesn’t need to ruin your pregnancy. There are plenty of ways for women to ease the uncomfortable sensations of constipation without harsh laxatives or medications that can harm your baby.