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Constipation During Pregnancy

Were you aware constipation is a common problem during pregnancy? To put it plainly, most pregnant women will have bouts of constipation at some point or, unfortunately, will deal with constipation throughout their entire pregnancies. A woman’s body undergoes many uncomfortable changes when she is pregnant. These changes alone, though part of a beautiful and natural process, can make her feel tired, achy and run down. Dealing with constant constipation on top of these changes can make a woman feel very ill.

constipation during pregnancy

Symptoms of Constipation During Pregnancy

It is important to note constipation is not an illness or a disease. Constipation is simply a condition alerting an individual that something is not working properly in the digestive system. If left untreated, constipation can become very painful and lead to partial or complete bowel obstruction. It is important to always deal with constipation at its onset and not allow it to continue unabated or worsen, which can lead to even great health problems.

One sign of pregnancy constipation is having hard stools that are difficult to pass. Pregnant women may also have an increase in bowel sounds and have to strain to pass stools. Other symptoms of constipation include small, lumpy stools, having less than three bowel movements per week, a feeling of incomplete evacuation, or feeling as if the rectal area is blocked. A pregnant woman may also have to exert too much pressure in an attempt to pass a stool, and this can cause tissue damage, bleeding, or even inflamed hemorrhoids to become a recurrent health concern.

Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy

Believe it or not but one of the early symptoms of pregnancy can be constipation! One reason women are likely to experience constipation in early pregnancy is due to a change in their hormones. When the female body starts carrying a child inside it, hormones are released which work to soften her muscles and ligaments. This is to prepare her body for the necessary expansion needed to accommodate the developing baby and also for childbirth. The drawback to this increased hormone production is that it can also affect the intestines. When the intestinal muscles become relaxed and soft, it usually results in a slowing down of the digestive system, which can inadvertently lead to constipation during pregnancy.

Another reason constipation during pregnancy is common can be due to the prenatal vitamins women may need to take to supplement their regular diets. Prenatal vitamins containing Iron can especially cause constipation. The digestive tract is very sensitive to Iron even under normal circumstances. However, many pregnant women simply need the extra Iron in their bodies during this time of tremendous growth and change. Iron supplements also help hold anemia at bay and keep the blood stronger.

Another contributing factor to constipation during pregnancy is change in a woman’s water and food consumption. It is very important for pregnant women to consume enough water to stay hydrated. Not only does it help to prevent constipation, but women need as much fresh water as possible to aid in the nourishment and development of the baby. Women who are prone to morning sickness may lose much of their water through vomiting. In addition, women who lose their appetites during pregnancy (due to nausea and vomiting) may not consume enough dietary fiber for preventing constipation during pregnancy. The human body requires an adequate intake of water and fiber to work to its full potential. Water and food is necessary to keep the organs working properly and to keep the digestive track operating to its potential.

Results of Constipation During Pregnancy

It is fairly accepted most women will suffer bouts of constipation in the later stages of their reproductive term. As the uterus expands and the baby’s weight bears down on the intestines, it can make it almost impossible for waste matter to move through the intestines easily. Constipation without pregnancy can be very painful and uncomfortable. But constipation during pregnancy can add a new dimension of problems to worry about. In addition to the usual symptoms such as straining, hard stools, painful elimination and bloating, constipation can additionally bring on backaches, heartburn and other mental and physical problems.

Constipation during pregnancy can aggravate existing feelings of being tired, sleepless, and just plain sluggish. Gas and bloating is usually more intense for a pregnant woman, as are the chances of developing hemorrhoids, or unintentionally creating tissue tears and cracks in the anus and rectum from straining.

Constipation during pregnancy can also make urinary difficulties worse. Pregnant women feel the urge to urinate more often than their non-pregnant peers. Therefore, pregnant women who are constipated may develop intense and problematic bladder control problems. In addition to the baby’s weight bearing down on the bladder, the added pressure of a backed up bowel can bring on urinary incontinence from the intestinal discomfort. Alternately, some women may find this added weight on the bladder makes it difficult for them to urinate.

Dealing with constipation during pregnancy can also bring on anxiety and stress. The bathroom becomes the enemy—something associated with just more discomfort and even pain–and this anxiety and stress can aggravate the symptoms of constipation. It is very important that women who are pregnant address their constipation symptoms just as they would any other concern upsetting their health and possibly their child’s as well. Ignoring the symptoms of constipation during pregnancy can bring on very dangerous health repercussions. So be good to your baby and yourself and take measures to alleviate constipation before it develops into a more serious health concern.

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