Constipation refers to bowel movements that are hard in consistency and painful to eliminate. In constipation too much water is absorbed from the large intestines, thus leaving the faces dry and difficult to excrete. Pregnancy brings with it the woes of constipation which can be very uncomfortable and can work you up. It is estimation that about 20% pregnant women get constipation and around 29% continue getting it even after pregnancy. During pregnancy the digestive system also is influenced by the hormonal changes and it becomes very important for women to take care of their constipation.
Constipation during pregnancy could be caused by several intermixed factors. It is caused by irregular eating habits, little exercise, inadequate intake of fiber and fluids and some level of stress also. During pregnancy the body produces more female hormones, such as progesterone, because it is these female hormones that help in proper development of pregnancy. These female hormones slow down the intestinal movement causing constipation. The outside wall of the bowel is also made of muscles and relaxes with the excretion of progesterone. This way the bowl movements are made irregular and it is unable to move food and bodily waste along, thus causing constipation.
Quite a few women take iron supplements at this stage, which also is a contributory factor to constipation. Any alteration in diet due to change in taste also leads to constipation, especially if you have stopped including fiber rich food in your diet. Another reason is that the growing baby also puts a lot of pressure on the bowel and there is general lethargy. This makes you miss out on keeping the body exercised and active, thus leading to slow bowel movements and constipation. A pregnant women’s intake of iron and calcium supplements and prenatal vitamins, can also cause constipation. When the uterus grows, it puts a lot of pressure on the bowel and stops the passage of stool, thus causing constipation.
When you have constipation during your pregnancy, you may show the following signs –
- The faces are hard and difficult to pass.
- The interval between one bowel movement to another is four days or more.
- There is also lower abdominal pain.
- Hard faces may even result in bleeding from the rectum.
- At times there is a feeling that even after trying very hard, no faces are being passed.
Care and regularity has to be maintained in your lifestyle to get relief from constipation during pregnancy.
- Increase your fiber intake – You should consume fiber rich foods like fruits, vegetables, cereals , whole meal bread, prune and prune juice, which provides roughage to your body to enable the food to move in the intestines,
- Drink plenty of water or fluids. – A daily intake of 8-10 glasses of water is recommended as the fluid keeps the stool soft and easy to pass. Even juices specially prune juice help to ease the constipation.
- HI-Fiber – At times some home made or medicinal remedies may come in handy. Senokot Hi-Fiber granules can be mixed in a glass of water and consumed to ease out the problems of constipation. One sachet in the morning and one at night give you one third of the recommended dosage of fiber. This drink speeds up passage of waste through the bowel. Remember to consult your doctor always before taking any such medicine.
Exercise – Exercise is a must and lethargy will only spoil things further. It is necessary to exercise daily because exercise prevents the digestive system from becoming sluggish. Exercises, which are safe during pregnancy, include walking, swimming and yoga. Exercise will lead to improved digestion by stimulating the bowel.