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Constipation In Pregnancy

Constipation and pregnancy unfortunately sometimes go hand in hand. The chances are high a woman will become constipated at some point during her pregnancy, if not for the entire duration. A woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy that can make her uncomfortable, such as swollen ankles, skin blemishes, or a bladder that feels like it’s the size of a gumball. When constipation is added to the list of aches and pains, it can aggravate things and make her feel worse.

constipation in pregnancy

No matter how much it annoys, constipation is not actually a disease. It is a symptom of something going wrong in the digestive system. Constipation in pregnancy can be extremely painful and in severe cases can lead to bowel obstruction.

Negative Health Effects of Pregnancy Constipation

It is important for pregnant women to do all they can to avoid becoming constipated. Constipation without pregnancy can just make you ill. Constipation in pregnancy not only has the usual symptoms of bloating, irregular bowel movements, straining, hard compacted stools and painful elimination of stools, but it can have a host of new problems because of everything else going on.

Pregnant women may feel more tired and sluggish than usual. Constipation in pregnancy can cause symptoms of bloating, excess gas, heartburn, and back pain as well. Constipation can increase or aggravate urinary problems such as incontinence. Constipation also increases the chances of having cracks or tears in the anus, and hemorrhoids may appear from that damaged tissue.

External and internal hemorrhoids can be a major problem for pregnant women who are constipated. Nearly 50% of pregnant women will have constipation with hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are actually varicose veins in the rectum, which means blood has stopped flowing normally and has begun to pool in the veins. During pregnancy, a woman is more susceptible to varicosities in the legs and rectum, and being constipated increases the chances that women will develop hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids can be extremely painful if left untreated. In addition to hemorrhoids, pregnant women may have small tears in their anus which can cause rectal bleeding. Stools may be streaked with bright red blood or there may be blood when wiping.

A constipated woman who has hemorrhoids and/or tears may develop a psychological fear of bowel movements and begin to hold waste in, which in turn worsens the constipation. Therefore, nervousness and anxiety over bowel movements can make the condition worse. If constipation is extreme and straining is intense, a small amount of intestinal lining may even be exposed or come out of the anus. This is known as rectal prolapse. If this occurs, the prolapsed bowel will have to be pushed back into the body manually by a physician. In the event of incarcerated rectal prolapse (a more severe form), surgery may become necessary if natural methods can’t resolve the issue.

Women who are pregnant generally have the urge to urinate often. Women should also be aware constipation in pregnancy can promote a temporary loss of bladder control. A backed up bowel can press on the bladder, which can already be pressured constantly from the weight of the baby. This pressure can cause the bladder to empty prematurely or it can even block urine from flowing. To put it plainly, constipation can bring incontinence right along with it, though the two seem contradictory.

Symptoms of Pregnancy Constipation

Symptoms of constipation in pregnancy include:

  • Lumpy, small or hard stools that are difficult to pass
  • Not feeling completely “empty”
  • Not feeling like you can “go” often enough
  • A feeling of anal/rectal blockage
  • Having less than three bowel movements per week
  • Manual maneuvering or straining in an attempt to help a stool pass
  • A distended abdomen
  • A crampy-feeling or tender stomach
  • Increase in bowel sounds

Causes of Constipation for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women are prone to constipation for a myriad of reasons, the first reason being a change in hormones especially during early pregnancy. When a woman becomes pregnant, her body puts out special hormones for softening her ligaments and muscles. This aids in the birthing process but can also directly affect the intestines. When the muscles of the intestines become soft and more limber they will not move as quickly as they once did.

The second reason women are prone to constipation in pregnancy is from taking prenatal vitamins. For example, if a pregnant woman is given iron as part of her prenatal vitamin package she may become constipated. Iron is known to cause constipation and it can be very harsh on the digestive tract. Many pregnant women are given iron to keep them from becoming anemic, but constipation can be an unwelcome side effect.

Constipation in pregnancy can also be caused by the expanding uterus and the weight of the baby bearing down on the intestines during the later stages. When you consider an eight to ten pound baby is pushing down on the bowel and intestines, it is not hard to understand why fecal matter may not have room to pass easily.

Other Causes of Pregnancy Constipation

Other causes of constipation in pregnancy include improper water and food intake. A pregnant woman’s body demands a lot of fluids. If she does not consume enough water she will become dehydrated and constipated. If a pregnant woman is prone to vomiting due to morning sickness she may also become dehydrated and thus constipated. In addition, women who are pregnant can have frequent bouts of nausea which may make them not want to eat or drink often enough, or not want certain beneficial foods. Also, if a pregnant woman does not consume an adequate amount of dietary fiber she will become constipated. So don’t forget those bran flakes, whole-wheat bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and fiber-rich grains.

Constipation is difficult enough under normal circumstances. If you are pregnant, however, you should do everything within your power to keep constipation at bay. Your body will be going through enough changes to accommodate your baby, so why add the onset of constipation in pregnancy to the list? Try to implement some methods for natural relief of your constipation symptoms:

  • Develop an organic diet with plenty of raw fibrous vegetables and grains and low on dairy and meat products
  • Engage in plenty of exercise to tone your body and sweat out toxins
  • Avoid dehydrating colas, coffee, and especially alcohol
  • Maintain regular bathroom habits
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking pure water often
  • Get plenty of rest at night and take little breaks throughout the day
  • Try an all-natural colon cleansing supplement like Oxy-Powder®

Constipation in pregnancy can be avoided by taking health-minded, preventative measures, improving lifestyle habits, and especially avoiding straining while having bowel movements. Above all, just start paying more attention to your body. It may be trying to tell you something important!

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