Constipation In Pregnancy: The Symptoms and Treatment
By: Julie Fletcher
Constipation in pregnancy is common
Nearly every pregnant woman will suffer from some form of constipation, be it mild or severe. In pregnancy, the digestive system slows down and becomes sluggish. This is so that the intestines can extract every possible bit of nutrition from food, drink, and vitamins that are ingested. The developing fetus needs many nutrients to grow properly and the slowing digestive system works to supply as much as it can. Because of this, water is absorbed by the body instead of passing through with the waste resulting in a drier waste product. This is what causes the constipation, along with weakened pelvic floor muscles. Also, as the uterus grows, it can push down on the bowels, causing more constipation.
Exercise every day to build up your muscles
The pelvic floor muscles are key in helping you remove the waste from your body more easily. If they are in a weakened state, even a normal bowel movement can be more difficult to pass. You may have hear of Keigel exercises which is the pelvic floor muscle strengthener. Keigels are done by squeezing the pelvic floor muscle as tight as you can for ten seconds, then releasing for ten seconds. If you're not sure how to do these exercises, try stopping your urine in midflow. The squeezing of muscles you did to stop that flow is exactly what you need to do to perform those exercises. Working these muscles will not only help with moving stool, but also when labor comes. Normal low impact areobics are also well known for helping keep the bowels moving.
Keep your fluids up during pregnancy
Keep your fluids up to prevent constipation during pregnancy - the removal of fluids from the foods as they pass through your body is at it's highest rate ever. Pure water is preferable over soft drinks and other caffine containing drinks. Caffinated drinks will actually cause fluid loss in the body which will make constipation worse. Clear soup, fruit juice, and vegetable juice is great for hydration. Drinking a warm cup of tea or other drink may help get the bowels moving, as well. Hydration is important for every person, but especially for pregnant women as it is very easy to become dehydrated during this time. Extra water in the body will help soften the stools and make them easier to pass. Six to eight glasses of fluids are recommended for adults, more if constipated.
Fiber in the diet will also help eliminate or relieve constipation in pregnancy
Some sources of fiber for the diet are cereals, whole grains pastas and breads, fresh fruits and vegetables. The colon uses fiber to make up the bulk of stools. If a stool is not the proper bulk, it will not move quickly enough through the bowel system and become dried out. Foods high in soluble fiber are important, as the bacteria in the digestive tract converts the soluble fiber into a type of gel that makes bowel movements soft and easier to pass. Insoluble fiber comes from the cell walls of plants and the human digestive system cannot break it down. These fibers get passed into the colon and swell, giving needed bulk to the stool. A bulky stool causes the tract to have muscle contractions which move the stool along. Without this fiber, the stool will move sluggishly.
Take a break if you feel you are having too much trouble eliminating
Straining too much or trying to go too often will tire you out, cause pain, and may even cause hemorrhoids. These are bulging veins around the rectum and are very uncomfortable. Pain, burning, and itching are common symptoms of hemorrhoids. Sometimes they will bleed, which can be a scary sight for someone who has never had hemorrhoids. The discomfort can be very painful, leading to avoiding the bathroom which will result in even more constipation. Resting and taking it slow when visiting the bathroom can help you avoid these problems. Also, a small, low stool in front of the toilet to place your feet on can help eliminate the need for straining.
Tablets and constipation during pregnancy
Taking your prenatal vitamins is good for you and your baby, but they can occasionally cause constipation. Iron, which is present in most prenatal vitamins, can cause constipation. Dark and sticky stools are common hallmarks of constipation from iron supplementation. Usually, a good diet high in fiber will eliminate any constipation from the vitamins. Other supplements can help ease the symptoms, such as magnesium, vitamin c, psyllium, and prunes. Many natural remedies come from insoluble fibers which expand in bulk and trigger the muscle contractions in the bowels. It is important to be careful in the use of any laxative, natural or chemically derived, because stimulants can cause contractions in the tract that may trigger uterine contractions. The body may also become dependent on laxitives, making constipation a long term problem after pregnancy.