Things you need to know
-When the progesterone levels are high in the first trimester, a woman starts to feel constipated, and the situation may worsen as pregnancy proceeds.
-It is common to feel bloated, gassy and blocked up during pregnancy due to irregular bowel movements.
-Making the right changes in the lifestyle can help to prevent or reduce feelings of constipation during pregnancy.
Constipation during pregnancy
Constipation during pregnancy starts from the first trimester and can continue till the last month of pregnancy. It is usually uncomfortable and unpleasant but a common concern for all pregnant women.
When does constipation in pregnancy start
Constipation is most common in the third trimester when the fetus is the heaviest and exerts the most strain on your bowel. However, constipation can occur during any three trimesters and even experience constipation for up to three months after the baby is born.
Symptoms of constipation during pregnancy
Before thinking about how to treat constipation, it is important to identify the symptoms of constipation during pregnancy.
- Feeling gassy and bloated
- Belly feels swollen
- Passing stool becomes painful
- Irregular bowel movements
- Hard stools
- Losing interest in eating
- Abdominal cramping while passing stool
Causes of constipation in pregnancy
An increase in the pregnancy hormone progesterone can cause your gut to work less efficiently and takes more than to absorb nutrients and water from the food you eat. The longer food stays in the intestine, the longer it takes for your large intestine to absorb the fluids. When you try to poop, the excrement becomes dried out and difficult to pass.
Increased intestinal pressure on the uterus
As you get closer to the 9th month of pregnancy, your uterus becomes heavier, adding pressure to bowel movements and making it more difficult for waste to pass through the body.
Intake of iron from supplements
The iron consumed from the prenatal vitamins aids in the production of blood to help in the circulation of oxygen through the mother to the baby’s body. However, too much iron intake can make it difficult for bacterial microorganisms in your intestines to break the food down. Therefore, it is important to drink sufficient water to soften the bowel movement.
Loss of appetite
A combination of factors can cause constipation in pregnancy, including your food, the number of fluids you drink each day, and how much exercise you do. The majority of pregnant women do not consume enough fibre, water, or exercise to aid their digestive system in moving waste out of the body.
Constipation in pregnancy: Treatment
There are several ways to alleviate constipation during pregnancy
- Diet high in protein, fibre and good fat
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes
- Take lots of floods: double your water intake
- Try breaking up your meals into 5 to 6 portions
- Laxatives as per doctor’s recommendation
- Relax the pelvic floor muscles
- Eat natural probiotics like yoghurt