How to relieve constipation in pregnancy
Constipation is liable to be a source of trouble at all times but especially in the first three months and the last month of pregnancy. It is most important that there should be regular daily action of the bowels. No accumulation of waste products should be allowed in the system.
Constipation is one of the most common side effects of pregnancy, affecting at least half of all pregnant women at some point. It’s usually more troublesome in women who were prone to constipation before pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant, an increase in the hormone progesterone causes digestion to slow, so food passes more slowly through the gastrointestinal tract. In the later months, your ever-expanding uterus puts pressure on the lower bowel. In addition, your colon absorbs more water during pregnancy, which tends to make stools harder and bowel movements more difficult.
Other factors that can contribute to the problem include irregular eating habits, stress, changes in environment, and added calcium and iron in your diet. Constipation can give rise to hemorrhoids.
What is it and why is it happening?
Problems with pooing commonly happen for two reasons during pregnancy: hormones relax the digestive system which slows down the movement of food through it, and your growing uterus puts pressure on your bowels and bottom. It’s particularly likely to affect you if you’re prone to it, anyway, or if morning sickness is preventing you from getting a balanced diet.
‘The constipation in those first three months was horrendous,’ recalls Modern Girl Alex. ‘I was reduced to taking fig tablets, which would ultimately result in emergency dashes to the loo. It was most unpleasant.’
How to prevent constipation
The first step in dealing with constipation is to evaluate your diet. Eating fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of fluids each day will help prevent or ease constipation. Follow these suggestions:
- Your best bet for tackling constipation is to get plenty of fibre-rich foods such as wholemeal bread, , including fresh fruits, raw and cooked vegetables, bran, beans and whole-grain foods, such as brown rice and oatmeal. and vegetables. The age-old remedy of prunes — now marketed as dried plums — can help, as can prune juice. The vegetable diet of Hindus should help to keep them free of constipation. Patients should be advised to eat fresh fruit and porridge made from “dalya,” and avoid white bread. (see HEALTHY PREGNANCY DIET PLAN)
- Eat small, frequent meals and chew your food thoroughly. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses a day. Drink a glass of water before going to bed. and, crucially, drink loads of water, to help it all move through.
- Get more exercise. Just adding a little time to your daily walks and swimming or other physical activities can be effective. Exercise helps to keep the bowels regular. Most women get a certain amount of exercise in doing their cooking and other house work, but in addition to this there should be daily walking in the open air.(see PRENATAL EXERCISE )
- Constipation is a common side affect of iron tablets, so if you’re taking these for anaemia you could try cutting them out or switching to a different sort. Iron supplements can cause constipation. If your care provider has recommended iron supplements and you have constipation, take the iron pills with prune juice. Or you can check to see if it would be OK for you to take a smaller dose of iron.
- If the constipation is very obstinate the patient should be advised to see a doctor. She should not attempt to treat herself with aperients and laxatives without a doctor’s advice. While pregnant women should be advised to take regular exercise, they should avoid lifting heavy weights, stooping and similar exertion. The great majority of women in India do their ordinary household work during pregnancy as a matter of course, and this is as it should We should not encourage women to think themselves invalids during pregnancy. This however, seldom happens except among the rich and the idle.
- If a woman has a tendency to abortions, it is advisable for her to rest during the time when the menstrual period would have occurred. If there is any pain in the lower abdomen or any discharge, the patient should go to bed at once and a doctor’s advice should be taken.
- Pregnancy should be a quiet and happy time and free from anxiety and worry. The expectant mother should have sufficient sleep which should be unbroken. Even if there are other children in the family who are quite young, they need not disturb the mother’s rest if they are properly trained. The majority of women in India look forward to motherhood as a natural and inevitable part of their lives. They do not usually worry or complain much during the time of waiting, and bear the minor ailments of pregnancy with a good deal of fortitude. The Health Visitor, by means of simple advice, may often help to make things easier for the expectant mother, and show her how to keep in better health, so ensuring for her a stronger healthier baby.
How to relieve constipation
Medication for constipation
If self-care measures don’t work, your care provider may recommend a mild laxative such as milk of magnesia, a bulking agent such as Metamucil or Citrucel, or a stool softener containing docusate. Sometimes, stronger measures are needed, but they should only be used on the advice of your doctor.
Don’t take cod liver oil because it can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins and nutrients.
Optional Video : How to Relieve Constipation Naturally