Constipation majorly occurs due to varying levels of hormones inside the mother’s body that comes into play during pregnancy.The hormones cause the muscles in the intestines to relax — making them sluggish and allowing food to stay longer in the digestive tract. The excess build-up of food and delayed excretion results in constipation.
The growing uterus also leads to constipation. As it expands, it takes up more and more space inside the mother’s body, giving bowels lesser space to be managed and processed.
Mothers also take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy which are rich in iron. These supplements are also shown to clog bowel movement and aggravate constipation.
Anaemia also contributes to constipation in some cases, and iron tablets used to treat anaemia can make constipation worse.
Constipation is not a serious occurrence and mostly lasts through pregnancy in intermittent phases. Some tips that can come in handy to fight constipation are:
- Fibre-rich foods or roughage-rich foods help eliminate waste. Whole-grain cereals and bread, legumes like peas and beans, fresh fruits and vegetables (raw or lightly cooked — preferably with skin left on) and dried fruits help deal with constipation.
- Big meals at one go can pressurize your digestive tract, leading to constipation issues. Try eating six mini-meals a day rather than three large ones. This will also cause less gas and bloating.
- Drink eight full glasses of fluids. They will keep solids moving through the digestive tract at an impressive rate and keep the stool soft and make them easier to pass.
- Schedule the toilet time well. Set a proper timeline – when to eat meals, when to eat snacks, when to ingest fibre or roughage, when to visit the restroom etcetera. Try following this schedule every day.
- Consider eating your supplements and medications carefully. Many supplements that are required to facilitate a healthy pregnancy like prenatal vitamins, calcium, and iron supplements, end up exacerbating constipation.
- Regular exercise during pregnancy helps maintain regular bowel movements. Do not lie down or go off to sleep immediately after a meal.
A ten-minute walk would might get you going — so consider munching on a handful of nuts and raisins and then taking a brisk stroll as soon as you wake up.
- Eat yogurts. They contain probiotic acidophilus — a kind of good bacteria found in yogurts that contain active cultures.
They stimulate the intestinal bacteria to break down food better, aiding the digestive tract in its efforts to keep things moving.
- Stay away from the temptation of using stimulant laxatives. Not all laxatives and stool softeners yield sure-shot result.
Many of them are not even safe for use during pregnancy.
Constipation during pregnancy in most cases is a normally-occurring thing. However in severe cases, excessive irregular bowel movement, passing of blood with stool, or straining during bowel movement can lead to or worsen a case of haemorrhoids. If the symptoms are causing too much of pain, discomfort, or irritation, then a medical practitioner must be seen.