Pregnancy can be among the most joyous times in a woman’s life. She radiates a glow, her hair is full of body and luster, and inside is growing a new life.
However, as wonderful as this time can be, around 50 percent of women also suffer from constipation while pregnant, which can lead to abdominal pain and discomfort, straining when trying to go and infrequent bowel movements. But what causes it?
It is of popular opinion that constipation during pregnancy is a result of the hormonal changes that take place, more specifically, the muscle in the intestine begin to relax. As a result, it serves to slow down the movement of food through the digestive system, enabling more time for the valuable nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the baby.
While constipation may be “naturally” occurring as a result of your pregnancy, it doesn’t mean that you have to sit by and idly let it happen.
Maintaining a high fiber diet, one that is rich in foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, prunes, and bran. According to dieticians, pregnant women should aim to include 25 to 30 grams per day of fiber in their diet. However, knowing as this may be difficult for some women to do, let alone a pregnant one, there are fiber supplements available but always check with your doctor before you start taking them.
Along with diet, you also want to ensure that you exercise regularly, and yes, that means even if you’re pregnant, for reducing your activity level can increase the chances of you becoming constipated.
While we understand that you may not have your full mobility or energy as a pregnant woman, you should try some low-impact and moderate exercises like swimming walking and other aerobic activities that stimulate the bowels, which can improve intestinal function and prevent constipation. An ideal goal would be to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes periods at least three times a week, but daily would be better.
Sadly, sometimes in spite your best efforts, your moderate diet and regular exercise, you still may find yourself constipated. If this happens, there are over the counter products that could be taken such as stool softeners and laxatives. However, it can get tricky when trying to find the right one, as some are perfectly healthy to use during pregnancy, while other are not. Make sure you speak to your doctor before you begin taking any and it may also be wise to talk to your local pharmacist when the time comes to settle on a brand.