According to studies, nearly three out of four pregnant women will experience constipation and other bowel issues at some point. During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone increases which triggers your body’s muscles to relax, including the intestinal muscles. As the intestines slow down so does digestion which leads to constipation. Also in the latter part of pregnancy, the growing weight of the baby in the womb, along with the undesirable effects of iron preparations mean this problem can be compounded. Basically, when you are pregnant, not only does your body experience many changes but your habits change too. You may eat different things or you may be taking supplements recommended by your doctor. These are all contributing factors.
A cause for worry
Is constipation a reason to worry? While experts say not really, however it can be a symptom of another problem. If you have severe constipation that is accompanied by abdominal pain, alternates with diarrhea, or you pass mucus or blood, call your doctor immediately. Additionally, straining during a bowel movement or passing a hard stool can lead to or worsen hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in the rectal area. In the case where the pain is severe or you have rectal bleeding, call your caregiver so you can be evaluated.
Solutions to keep constipation at bay
Watermelon can help: Full of water, watermelon helps to move food through the bowels.
Magnesium Supplements: High dose magnesium supplements are safe to take during pregnancy and can really save an expecting mom who hasn’t been able to have a bowel movement for several days at a time.
Chamomile Tea: Chamomile has been used for centuries and helps soothe frazzled nerves, helps with insomnia – another woe for pregnant women – and it also has a generally calming effect. Drink no more than two cups a day, though, since there are untested rumors that it can cause miscarriage in higher doses.
High-Fiber Foods: Aim to consume more whole-grain cereals and breads, brown rice, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
Wheat Bran: Add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your cereal in the morning and follow it with a glass of water though it may take a few days before you notice a difference.
Water: Be sure to drink plenty of water – at least six to eight glasses a day. Some people find that drinking a warm liquid right after waking up helps get things moving.
Partake in Regular Exercise: Walking, swimming and yoga can all help ease constipation and leave you feeling more fit and healthy.
The Urge: Never put off going to the bathroom when you feel the urge.
Change Your Angle: There are yoga poses that mimic many postures pregnant women are taught for giving birth. These poses are also really helpful with constipation. When your knees are at a 90-degree angle, everything is helped along quite well.