Constipation is one of the most common problems among pregnant women. Almost every women encounters this problem at some point during pregnancy. As we know, this condition is characterized by hard stool and irregular bowel movements. Mild constipation can be alleviated by simply increasing the fluid intake. Severe constipation may, however, require medical attention and certain medications. However, not all medications and home remedies are safe to be used during pregnancy.
Constipation Problems in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is the period marked by a sharp increase in the level of pregnancy hormones. The main job of these hormones is to ensure a normal pregnancy and facilitate childbirth. However, these hormones relax the muscles of the intestine, which slows down the movement of food and waste through the intestinal tract. The hormone that is mainly responsible for relaxing the intestinal muscles is progesterone.
During late pregnancy, the growing fetus also puts more pressure on the lower intestine, which can further aggravate this problem. Apart from these, women usually have to take certain supplements during pregnancy that too can cause this condition or worsen it. The supplements that are more likely to cause constipation are iron and calcium supplements. Even factors like, insufficient intake of fiber, not drinking enough water or fluid, lack of physical activities, and stress or anxiety can be a factor in this condition.
For mild to moderate constipation, physicians usually recommend to add more fiber-rich food to the diet. Fiber adds bulk to stool and softens it, so as to ensure its smooth passage through the intestine. Some of the good fiber-rich foods for pregnancy are whole grains, cereals, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Along with following a high-fiber diet, pregnant women should also increase their fluid intake. They should drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily, along with soup, and fruit and vegetable juice. However, drinking too much of coffee and other caffeinated beverages should be avoided, as they increase fluid loss. When there is not enough water or fluid in the body, more water is reabsorbed from the stool in the intestine, which makes it hard and difficult to pass.
If all these dietary and lifestyle modifications fail to alleviate this condition, then physicians may recommend some medications for the relief during pregnancy. After evaluating the condition, physicians may opt for supplements or over-the-counter medications. The most commonly used medications during pregnancy include, Metamucil, Citrucel, Colace, Senokot, and Fiberall. Even milk of magnesia can be used for the relief, with the approval of your physician. Along with these medications, your physician can also suggests the use of fiber supplements to treat this problem.
Some Home Remedies
It is better to rely on the natural remedies and a high-fiber diet for alleviating the constipation associated with pregnancy. However, not all remedies are safe to be used during this period. Home remedies like mineral oil, castor oil, and any kind of strong laxatives should be avoided by pregnant women.
- Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Drink one or two glasses of warm water in the morning to ensure regular bowel movement.
- Along with water, drink fruit and vegetable juice. You can also take soup to increase your fluid intake.
- Fruits like oranges, melons, grapes, mangoes, and bananas are great for ensuring regular bowel movements. They are rich in fiber and can facilitate the movement of food and waste materials through the intestinal tract.
- Ginger is a remedy for bowel problems. You can take ginger tea or add the ginger powder while preparing food.
- Pregnant women can also eat prunes or drink prune juice for relief. Prune juice is a mild laxative that can be used by pregnant women.
- Dates can also help to get rid of this condition. Besides facilitating bowel movements, dates can provide iron, one of the most important minerals required for a healthy pregnancy.
- Psyllium husk is an excellent remedy and is rich in fiber, for which it can provide fast relief.
- Take a glass of slightly warm water and add the juice of a 1/2 lime to it. Then, add about 1 teaspoon of honey, mix it properly, and drink it in the morning to have bowel movement.
Along with these, it is also important for the pregnant women to exercise or do some kind of physical activity. So, talk to the physician to know about the safe pregnancy exercises. If constipation persists or worsens even with all possible care and use of remedies, then talk to your physician. Never take any kind of supplementation, medications, and laxatives, natural or otherwise without consulting your physician.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.