Constipation and Pregnancy
Constipation is unfortunately one of the more frequent ailments experienced by pregnant women. In fact, some experts suggest that as many as half of women who are pregnant will have constipation at least occasionally during their pregnancy. Coming to understand what causes constipation during pregnancy can help you to know what to do to reduce its frequency and its severity.
During pregnancy, constipation is usually caused because of hormonal changes in a woman’s body. The intestinal muscles relax due to an increase in the hormone progesterone. When this occurs, food and waste move at a much slower pace through the digestive system. This, in turn, leads to constipation.
Constipation can be exacerbated during pregnancy by taking an iron supplement. Iron supplements are important for pregnant women, as they may help to reduce the risk of certain birth defects. Unfortunately, they can also increase the risk of constipation.
If you experience constipation during pregnancy, there are a number of different things you can try in order to get some relief:
- Talk with your doctor about your iron supplement. It may be that you can get a smaller dose of iron and take it several times throughout the day, which may help to relieve some of your constipation problem.
- Get plenty of fiber. You need at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day. If you’re not getting at least that much, you increase your risk for constipation. The best foods from which to get fiber are whole grains, vegetables and bran. If you’re not getting enough in those ways, you might consider a fiber supplement as well.
- Get some exercise. Exercise does many things for you during pregnancy, not the least of which is to help with constipation. Exercise tends to stimulate the digestive system, and it will also help you to prepare your body for childbirth.
- Keep hydrated. One of the most common causes of constipation is dehydration. Make sure you’re taking in enough fluids throughout your day. You need to be getting at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water each day.
- Check with your doctor before taking constipation medications. Laxatives aren’t usually recommended during pregnancy, as they may cause your uterus to contract. Some other medications may be considered safe to use during pregnancy.