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Pregnancy Constipation

Constipation during pregnancy is extremely common, but it can be frustrating to deal with. It is rarely serious and is usually a byproduct of the increase in hormones fluctuating in your changing body. The most important step is to find natural, healthy ways of counteracting your uncomfortable pregnancy constipation.

Hormones and Constipation

The most frequent causes of constipation during pregnancy include the rise in the hormone progesterone, constipation induced by the high iron content of prenatal vitamins, and pressure exerted on the internal organs by the developing fetus. Progesterone is released in pregnant women and this hormone slows down the digestive system, creating a longer transit time for waste to move through the colon, and this can lead to constipation. High amounts of supplemental iron can cause constipation, and this can be remedied by simply lowering the dosage. As the baby develops in the uterus, this may place pressure on internal organs such as the intestines. This may also inhibit the natural muscular movements within the digestive system and can lead to pregnancy constipation as well.

During this time of fluctuating hormones, the body is working exceptionally hard at nourishing this new person growing within you. The body is also continuing its existing job of maintaining your health, so that’s double the effort being produced each day. Your diet is important because the foods you eat, and how well they are assimilated by your body, affect the quality of nutrition your baby receives. The increase in progesterone will slow down your bowels, but it also means you need to select more easily digestible foods so they can be absorbed with less strain on the intestinal tract. Foods like oat bran, pumpkin puree, yogurts, smoothies, and other soft foods are easy to digest and also contain high fiber to help relieve pregnancy constipation.

Improving Diet to Relieve Pregnancy Constipation

Staying Hydrated

One of the best ways to naturally treat constipation is to drink eight to ten 8-oz. glasses of purified water throughout the day (a little more because you’re hydrating for two). Water lubricates the digestive tract and is required by the body so waste material can absorb the water, which also makes it easier to pass. Low-impact exercises also benefit the body while pregnant by keeping muscles toned and all systems flushed of toxins for working smoothly. Exercises like yoga or Pilates, slow stretching, walking, or casual swimming or excellent measures for promoting regularity.

High Fiber Diet

Maintaining a high fiber diet is important for avoiding sluggish bowels and constipation throughout your term.  Aim for consuming 30 to 40g (grams) of fiber per day and try to incorporate all-natural sources of fiber preferably, or fiber supplements if necessary.

Try to achieve 5 to 7 servings of vegetables each day, as they contain plenty of fibrous material and also provide vital nutrients and minerals necessary for your baby’s overall development.

High fiber fruits and vegetables include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Green beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Chard
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Berries

These may be added to soups or smoothies:

  • Oat bran
  • Wheat germ
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Psyllium husk

Or, you can try some whole grain goodies like:

  • Whole wheat bread (not enriched or bleached)
  • Oat bran
  • Buckwheat
  • Getting Positive Results

Sometimes, you take in enough water to form a small lake, you’re eating so much fiber you feel like a lumber yard, you exercise until you could make the cut for the next Hollywood blockbuster . . . and pregnancy constipation still continues. In rare circumstances, constipation during pregnancy may result from causes that are more serious and may be accompanied by additional symptoms. Some of these symptoms can include painful abdominal cramping, blood in the stool or urine, or feeling extremely weak or lightheaded. If any of these symptoms appear or the constipation lasts longer than two weeks, consult a healthcare provider experienced in special conditions of pregnancy.

In many cases, however pregnancy constipation subsides after the first trimester; the hormones continue to fluctuate but by then the body begins to adapt to the changes. Nonetheless, as you start practicing these beneficial measures, your digestive system can run more smoothly throughout the pregnancy and beyond.

As a last piece of advice, some methods to avoid during pregnancy are herbal colon cleanses, enemas, high colonics, and especially laxatives. Each of these measures could potentially endanger your baby and compromise your own health during pregnancy.  Stick to the natural, safe methods to help ensure a healthy, constipation-free, and pleasant pregnancy.

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