As pregnant women, we love the feel of our baby kicking inside of us. As human beings we writhe in pain with the occasional constipation bouts that we have simply learned to deal with. However, mix the love of the kicking with the painful effects of constipation and we’re in for an extremely uncomfortable situation. Constipation hurts no matter what, but to a pregnant woman, the pain can become unbearable.
Symptoms of constipation include:
- Fewer than three bowel movements per week.
- Small, hard, dry stools that are difficult or painful to pass.
- The urgency to strain excessively to have a bowel movement.
- A feeling that your rectum is not empty after having a bowel movement.
Just as when you’re not pregnant, constipation is unavoidable and generally hits us when we’re least expecting it. Having constipation is common for many pregnant women. The pressure of your uterus on your rectum, pregnancy hormones, as well as iron supplements (some prenatal vitamins have added amounts), can often be the cause of constipation during pregnancy.
Before taking any medications (ie: Tylenol, laxatives, etc.) or performing any sort of exercise always speak with your doctor first. What helped to cure your constipation before pregnancy may not be good for you or your baby now. Your doctor may say that it’s okay to take a mild laxative but let him/her be the one to recommend which brand is healthiest and safest to take. You can also ask your doctor about taking a stool softener.
There are several things that will help avoid constipation altogether:
- Liquids — Keep yourself hydrated. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water, fruit juices, teas (be sure it’s decaf), or another favorite beverage, daily, will help keep your stools soft.
- Fruits and vegetables — Eat more raw or dried fruits and vegetables. When you feel the urge to snack, grab some fruits or veggies. Not only are they a healthy choice, but they’re high in fiber too.
- Exercise — Take a brisk walk, join a yoga class, swim a couple laps in the pool… all are wonderful and relaxing exercise choices during pregnancy. If you’re an avid jogger, try to avoid it while you are pregnant. There is a greater risk in jogging than taking a walk around your neighborhood, simply because you may stumble over your feet or trip more easily. Be sure to ask your doctor if (s)he recommends a certain length of time to exercise. Sometimes, too much exercise can be harmful.
- Prunes — A much tastier fruit than many people realize. Eat a prune a day or even drink a glass of prune juice. One prune a day is all most people need in order to stay regular.
- Don’t wait — Don’t fight the urge to have a bowel movement. Forcing yourself to wait until the last possible minute will only add pressure and discomfort.
The main element in coping with constipation is eating foods high in fiber. A diet with enough fiber (20 to 35 grams each day) will help you avoid constipation. High-fiber foods include beans, whole grains and bran cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables such cabbage, carrots and asparagus, just to name a few. Include fiber in each meal that you eat and that will hopefully decrease your possibilities of having an extreme case of constipation as your pregnancy progresses.
Constipation can occasionally lead to hemorrhoids, or swollen veins in the rectal area, which can be horribly uncomfortable. Both constipation and hemorrhoids should subside after your baby is born. Always be sure to contact your doctor should you suffer from constipation that is accompanied by abdominal pain.
Constipation is miserable, but also unavoidable. By following these suggestions you should be able to lessen the chances of becoming constipated. If you do become constipated, try to stay relaxed. It will be easier to pass a bowel movement, once your body is ready, if you’re not tensed up. Rub your stomach when you find a good position while sitting in your chair or couch. Your baby may not only like the feel of your rubbing, but it will ease some of the pain in your stomach.
The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.