Do you constantly feel bloated? Does the possibility of feeling constipated during your pregnancy scare you? Well, constipation is an uncomfortable condition, but unavoidable for would-be mothers. Being pregnant only compounds the discomfort of constipation.
If you want to know what causes constipation during pregnancy and the ways you can minimize its effects, then you have landed on the right post! Go ahead and give a read!
What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?
It is not uncommon for women to suffer from constipation during pregnancy. However, most women choose not to talk about it out of embarrassment and other reasons. Let’s look at some causes of constipation during pregnancy:
1. Eating And Drinking Less:
If you are one of those women who suffer from severe nausea early in your pregnancy, you may have problems eating and drinking. In this gentle condition, any loss of nutrient will cause bowel stiffness. If you tend to vomit more than usual, you might want to think about eating some natural digestives to soften those hard stools.
2. Hormonal Changes:
When you become pregnant, your body goes through various hormonal changes. Some of these changes may relax some muscles, sometimes including the muscles designated to squeeze food into the digestive tract. This muscle relaxation can lead to constipation, especially if you don’t eat fiber or don’t have enough water in your diet.
Another reason for constipation in pregnancy is also an increase in a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone helps relax the smooth muscles all through the body, including the digestive tract. It ensures that food passes slowly through the intestine and in turn through the digestive tract.
You need to remember that white pasta, cakes, bread and other white flour products are made from refined flour, and no longer contain the same amount of fiber. This causes slow movement of food into the digestive tract, often triggering constipation. These foods usually absorb liquids and form a stretchy plaster like substance. This plaster like substance can worsen your constipation.
4. Iron Supplements:
Although it is advisable to eat iron supplements during pregnancy, iron isn’t exactly something that is easily digestible. Iron usually clings to the intestine and only a little part of it is apportioned for the blood. This leftover iron combines with other undigested substances and clings onto the intestine. If you have a healthy diet, which includes many natural sources of iron, you shouldn’t take iron supplements. Tweak your diet to cease the use of iron supplements, especially if you have a low-fiber and low-water diet.
[ Read: Treat Pigmentation During Pregnancy ]
Home Remedies To Treat Constipation During Pregnancy:
You may be tempted to try over-the-counter medicines for constipation, but keep in mind that they contain high levels of aspartame, which can be noxious for pregnant women. So, how do you treat it? Well, the following are the home remedies for constipation during pregnancy:
Adding a lemon to a warm glass of water helps stimulate your taste and smell, and also acts as a great catalyst for the digestive system, flushing out toxins and other undigested material from the colon. You can have some concentrated lemon juice. However, adding a little bit of water lessens the intensity of the lemon flavor and helps add fluid to your bowels. Warm water and lemon have been known to induce peristalsis or bowel contractions that help you pass stool (1).
The best way to soften something up is to add water, right? Well, in the case of hard stool, it is quite true. Drinking around 8-10 glasses of water a day will help you get the required amount of water in your system, and help you keep constipation in check. Drinking the right amount of fluid not only softens hard stool, it also ensures that the food moves through the digestive tract.
Oranges are rich in dietary fiber, and vitamin C. One of the main reasons for constipation is a lack of dietary fiber. Thus, oranges are one of the best remedies for constipation. Increase fiber intake a little bit every day, until you get to 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. You can also consider eating other citrus fruits like grapefruit and grenadine (2).
4. Prune Juice:
Wondering how to cure constipation during pregnancy? Prune Juice is widely hailed as an effective cure for constipation. All you need to do is have prune juice 4 to 6 times in a day to ease constipation and soften the stool. If the concentrated taste of prune juice is too strong for you, dilute it with a bit of water and add a slice of lemon (3).
5. Psyllium Or Ispagula Husks:
One of the best known remedies for constipation in India, Isabgol or Ispagula husks, is a bulk forming laxative. Ispagula husks contain mucilage that absorbs fluid. This mucilage adds up to the stool. However, you need to drink around 8-10 glasses of water every day, should you choose this remedy. Isabgol is not good for you if you have heart problems or have a predisposition to blood pressure. As a pregnant woman, only use this cure on your doctor’s recommendation (4).
Flaxseed is another popular remedy for constipation during pregnancy. It is crammed with dietary fiber, which helps add the much needed roughage to your diet, and it also contains a rich amount of omega-3s. As with other cures though, you would have to supplement the diet along with a minimum of 8-10 glasses of water for each spoonful of flaxseeds. Alternatively, you can also consider using flaxseed oil (5).
In the early weeks of pregnancy, constipation is normal, and we tend to ignore it. However, it can soon escalate into a severe problem, and we need to keep a check on it. One effective remedy for constipation during early pregnancy is massaging your stomach. Remember to do this gently. Use your fingers to massage your tummy in a clockwise direction. If you are at a risk of premature labor, or the placenta is low in the uterus, avoid this remedy (6).
8. Pelvic Floor Relaxation:
Whenever you need to go take a poo, make sure, you have enough privacy. Practice deep breathing; let the muscles on the pelvic floor relax (7). Sometimes, you can even stand up to pass stool, or you can consider bending one knee and keeping it on the edge of the tub. This one leg-up position encourages pelvic floor relaxation which helps cure constipation.
Reflexology is one of the best natural remedies for most ailments. It uses the unique system of applying pressure to unique points in the limbs. This is a completely safe method to ease constipation for pregnant women as it’s completely natural. You can ask your husband, or the household help to massage the upper soles of your feet to relax and ease the digestive system.
If you are alone at home, you can use the palm reflexology zones to ease constipation. Begin massaging the edge of the palm and work your way up to the dip. Remember to massage your palm in a clockwise movement. You can also consider placing a bottle under the sole of each foot. All you have to do is roll the bottle forwards and backward on the floor as you sit enjoying a book or watching television (8).
Aromatherapy baths have been known to help ease constipation. Usually, sniffing on certain essential oils can help ease constipation. You can create your own aromatherapy bath to ease constipation. Mix 4 to 5 drops of lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, lime or sweet orange essential oil with some grapeseed or almond carrier oil and stir this mixture into your bath water. This remedy works best if you lie in the bath for around 5 to 10 minutes. It works on the principle of stimulating the activity center in the brain to induce defecation (9).
Although we have already spoken about some vegetables that help ease constipation, there are some special vegetables including watercress, cabbage, artichokes, celery and spinach. Watch out for how much spinach you have. If you are someone who doesn’t drink much water, spinach is probably not the best option for you as it contains iron, which can induce constipation.
Many foods help reduce constipation, soften the stool, act as natural laxatives, and flush the digestive system with dietary fiber or through other chemical and biological processes. Wholegrain cereals usually help increase roughage and soften the stool, thereby easing constipation (10).
This ancient Chinese healing system has been found to be quite effective in treating constipation. Practitioners usually believe that constipation is usually caused by an energy block or Qi. To release this Qi block, you should find the acupressure point in the center of the abdomen, mostly located around 5 cm below the navel. Gently press this point, increasing pressure gradually. Do this around 25-30 times daily, stopping at the latter stages of your pregnancy. If you have a disposition to premature labor, press this point about 20-30 times and repeat several times a day (11).
Homeopathy provides many alternative healing techniques for an entire myriad of ailments and disorders. It can also help ease constipation during pregnancy, and some techniques have been found to be quite effective. Alumina, Byronia, Graphites, Lycopodium, Nux vomica and Silica are some of the popular homeopathic remedies doctors usually prescribe.
Although most purists and allopathic doctors don’t trust homeopathic cures, if you are looking for a healing system with no side effects, homeopathy is quite safe. However, make sure that the person who prescribes you medicines is a registered homeopath (12).
Laxatives are usually of two types; they either add bulk to the stool or induce bowel contractions. Laxatives that usually bulk up the stool do this, by increasing the water content in the stool. However, using bowel stimulants represents a risk of bowel cramps, which can lead to some sticky situations. Remember that unintelligent use of laxatives can trigger side effects with far reaching solutions. They must be used efficiently and effectively. Laxatives usually help you relieve chronic and acute constipation. The chronic use of laxatives can lead to a lazy and twisted bowel. Therefore, always consult a physician before you decide on a laxative. Talk to your physician about the best laxative for you, as a soon-to-be mother (13).
These natural remedies can help relieve you from the irritating and uncomfortable effects of constipation. If your constipation doesn’t seem to respond to any of these home remedies, or even alternative healing techniques, you might want to consider consulting your physician, or even an alternative healer like an osteopath or a chiropractor. Chiropractors usually believe that misalignments from a previous injury can lead to stress and tension on the body’s tender parts, including the intestines and the stomach.
Although it is one of the best reversals for chronic constipation, you should refrain from opting for colonic immigration during pregnancy, as it can lead to many problems like vaginal infection or even a punctured bowel.
[ Read: Pregnancy Personal Care Tips ]
How To Prevent Constipation During Pregnancy?
So, how do you prevent constipation during pregnancy? Well, we know now that hormonal changes will almost always lead to constipation during pregnancy, but there are certain steps that you can take to reduce the chances of constipation due to other causes. Follow certain simple tips like:
- Drink plenty of water; make sure you don’t go thirsty as it can lead to the hardening of stools and even constipation.
- Eat plenty of roughage; there is no replacement for the recommended amount of dietary fiber in your diet.
- Stay away from junk; although it is quite tempting to have a large bowl of ice cream, or a loaded cheeseburger while you are pregnant, these foods usually contain preservatives that are not only harmful to the bowel, but to the womb as well.
These are some prevention techniques you can use to ensure you don’t face constipation due to your ignorance or your excesses. Remember that constipation during pregnancy is almost inevitable.
We hope you found the article informative. Please use any of these techniques to get rid of your constipation today. Share your experiences with us. Leave a comment below!
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