As if being pregnant isn't uncomfortable enough, some women also suffer with constipation while they are pregnant. As many as 11%-38% of women experience constipation during pregnancy. Hormones are causing the muscles near your bowels to relax, which can lead to constipation. Hormones are not to blame for all the problems with your digestive tract. Your growing uterus is taking up more space, which doesn't leave a lot of room for you bowels to work as they should.
Another cause of constipation is the iron containing prenatal vitamins you have been taking. It's not a good idea to stop growing or to stop taking the vitamins, so here are some tips to help you relieve or prevent constipation during pregnancy.
Be sure to eat plenty of fiber containing foods throughout your pregnancy. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and dried fruits all all good examples of fiber rich foods. Try to get more green vegetables and fruits since they have more of a laxative effect than other foods. White breads, cereals, and pastries made from white flour have lost all their fiber in the process and can cause constipation, so it's best to stay away from those. Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber each day.
You can also ask your doctor about fiber supplements, such as wheat germ or psyllium husk. These are high potency supplements, so you will want to use with caution if your doctor says it's OK for you.
Staying hydrated is a good way to stay regular. Dehydration can cause hard stools. Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water is a start. If you still have constipation, try some prune juice which is known for it's laxative effect. If you don't like the taste of prune juice, try mixing it in to a smoothie.
Yogurt contains a bacteria, the probiotic acidophilus, that stimulates your digestive tract. If you don't like eating yogurt by itself, try mixing it into a smoothie or making a parfait with fresh fruit and granola.
Eat Less, More Often
Eating large meals can cause your digestive tract to slow down and become sluggish. Try eating several smaller meals throughout the day instead of just a couple of bigger meals. As a bonus, spreading out your meals will also help with bloating.
Get your body moving, and your bowels will probably start moving too! Even a small amount of exercise, such as a brisk fifteen minute walk, may be enough to keep you regular.
When you have to use the restroom, go right away. Don't try to resist the urge because this can make constipation worse. Try to schedule extra time around meal times to visit the toilet. Sometimes,taking away the anxiety of being rushed, can help you relax enough to let your digestive tract work the way it should.
Supplements and Medications
Prenatal vitamins and medicines can be a very good thing during pregnancy. Although sometimes constipation can be a side effect. If you have tried everything, and you're still suffering from constipation, try talking to your doctor about finding alternative medicines or supplements.
If you have tried all of the above, and you are still suffering from constipation, the last resort is to talk to your doctor about a laxative or stool softener to get thing moving. There are plenty of over the counter laxatives and stool softeners, but they are not all safe to use during pregnancy. Many of these products can lead to dehydration, so they should only be used under the supervision of a doctor during pregnancy. Contact your doctor to see if one is right for you.