Constipation and haemorrhoids are the two most dreaded problems plaguing pregnancy turning it into a difficult journey. Abdominal pain, bloating, discomfort, fissures on the anal opening and even piles are the horrifying outcomes of constipation during pregnancy. While constipation can be easily cured, pregnancy poses certain restrictions in reaching out to the most common cures. Let us delve into detail about constipation in pregnancy.
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Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy
What causes constipation? During pregnancy, there is an increase in progesterone hormone which is responsible for relaxing muscles of the body including the intestinal muscles. Relaxed intestinal muscles mean a slower movement of food resulting in constipation. Apart from high progesterone level, there are a few other reasons causing constipation during pregnancy.
Anxiety, stress and worry can also lead to constipation during pregnancy. Another culprit is low fibre diet, not enough water content in the body, gorging on junk food, high calorie fried snacks, too much intake of caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, and lack of physical exercise. Even the iron and folic acid supplements, meant for the healthy development of the foetus, can cause constipation in pregnancy if you do not intake adequate amount of water.
How To Prevent Constipation During Pregnancy
Prevention is certainly better than cure. Here are certain steps you can take to prevent constipation during pregnancy:
‣ High Fiber Diet - Foods That Prevent Constipation
Consume at least 30 to 35 grams of dietary fibre each day from vegetables, fruits, whole grain food items, sprouts, cereals etc. Dietary fibre helps in the smooth movement of stool in the intestines, thereby making bowel movements easier and regular. Consume fibre-rich vegetables and fruits, like banana, berries, broccoli, sprouts, gooseberry, apricots, coconut etc. to prevent constipation in pregnancy. You can make a bowl of fresh fruit salad by cutting fresh apples, figs, banana, strawberry, beans, prunes, raspberries. Drizzle raw organic honey over it for added power dosage of antioxidants.
‣ Drink Lots Of Water
Consume at least 10 glasses of water each day to prevent constipation during pregnancy. High fiber diet combined with plenty of water is a powerful way to deal with constipation. It helps detoxify your body by eliminating toxins from the body. It prevents swelling due to salt and water retention in the body by flushing out excess salt.
‣ Yoga For Constipation
Yoga during pregnancy has several benefits. It maintains flexibility in the body, prevents constipation, aid digestion, ensures strong muscles and joints, facilitates easy delivery, and helps manage stress and anxiety during pregnancy. Here are a few yoga poses that can prevent constipation during pregnancy: Pawanmuktasana, Baddha Konasana, Halasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Mayurasana, Balasana, and Supta Matsyendrasana.
‣ Eat Small Meals Frequently Instead Of Three Large Meals
Large meals can overload your digestive system causing constipation, indigestion, bloating and belching. Instead, eat five or six small meals frequently as it keeps your metabolism up and digestive system healthy.
‣ Stool Softeners With Iron Supplements
If you are prescribed iron and folic acid supplements, consider stool softeners too. They combat the negative effects of iron pills and moisten your bowels allowing easy and smooth movement of stool inside the intestines.
Treatment of Constipation During Pregnancy
So in spite of taking adequate measures to prevent constipation during pregnancy, you end up facing the trouble? Constipation treatment isn’t complicated and you can choose from short-term basis medicines like Colace to natural remedies. Some of the home remedies for constipation are:
○ Lemon Mixture
Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of Lukewarm water and add raw organic honey to it. Drink this first thing in the morning and before going to bed at night for relief from constipation during pregnancy. If you suffer from low blood pressure, consult your doctor before consuming this drink.
Take half a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and drink it with water. Repeat the procedure twice daily for relief from constipation in pregnancy.
○ Ispaghula Husk
Ispaghula Husk, being rich in fibre, acts as a mild laxative when mixed with water. For optimum results, consume one tablespoon of Ispaghula husk mixed with a glass of water twice daily.
○ Apple Juice
Consuming fresh apple juice mixed with warm water daily, especially before breakfast, helps significantly in relieving constipation during pregnancy.
○ Coconut Oil
Coconut oil, being rich in medium chain fatty acids, boosts metabolism and energizes intestinal cells. Hence, the daily consumption of one to two teaspoon of coconut oil stimulates bowel movements and provides relief from constipation.
○ Chia Seeds
Mix soaked chia seeds with milk or juice and drink daily. Being a rich source of dietary fibre, chia seeds aids in maintaining regular bowel movement. The gel-like consistency of chia seeds in absorbing water further acts as a stool softener.
There are certain precautions to be taken before attempting to treat constipation during pregnancy. Do not go overboard with any of the above-described remedies as an excess of everything is harmful. Consult your doctor if the symptoms persist even after a week of trying the home remedies. Do not take over the counter laxatives as they may stimulate contractions in the uterus and urinary bladder causing dehydration or even premature labour. Do not consume mineral oil for relief from constipation in pregnancy as it reduces the nutrient absorption in the body resulting in, mild to severe, deficiencies.