Ok, ladies…I’m just going to say it ~ constipation is the pits! And unfortunately it is a common side effect of pregnancy.
Believe it or not, there is a reason for pregnancy constipation. The hormone progesterone causes the muscles in the large bowel to relax (i.e. they slow down) which allows the food to stick around longer and thus more nutrient absorption to occur. Plus, your growing uterus is taking up more room and leaving less space for “business as usual.” However, this reasoning doesn’t make the downsides of constipation any easier to digest (pun intended).
If you are one of the many women who experience constipation during pregnancy, or just constipation in general, here are some tips to get things moving again.
- Drink-up! Aim for 6-8 glasses of non-caffeinated fluid a day. Warm liquids can also help, such as warm water with lemon, to get those intestines contracting. And yes, the infamous prune juice can also provide relief, if you can stomach it.
- Increase your fiber! Fiber-rich foods help push food and waste through the digestive tract so load up on whole grains (breads, pastas, barley, bulgur, quinoa, etc.), fruits and veggies, and beans. But be sure to increase your intake slowly so as not to overwhelm your system and cause excess gas.
- Get moving. To get things moving “down there” you might have to get things moving in general. Regular exercise, if approved by your health care provider, can be a great way to keep constipation away or to relieve it.
- Check your supplements. Ironically, many of the supplements that we need to take during pregnancy can lead to discomfort. One of the main culprits is iron, which can cause constipation if taken in large dosages. Talk with your health care provider before making any changes to your vitamin or supplement routine.
- Talk with your doctor. If the more natural remedies provide little to no relief, talk to your health care provider about stool softeners or fiber supplements. Only certain stool softeners are recommended so be sure to get the green light before taking this route. In general, laxatives are not recommended during pregnancy.
And if humor helps at all, just remember, this gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “this too shall pass.”