If you’re pregnant for the first time, there are some bodily changes you might be unfamiliar with. While most everyone knows the classic symptoms of morning sickness, weight gain, glowing skin, and a round stomach, there are some other, less spoken about plights of pregnancy. One of these is constipation during pregnancy.
Constipation is a common symptom that can occur any time during pregnancy. Constipation occurs when there is abdominal pain or discomfort combined with difficult and infrequent bowel movements. You will likely also experience hard stools.
3 Reasons You Might Be Experiencing Constipation During Pregnancy
In general, constipation can be caused by a variety of factors. Worry and stress, infrequent physical exercise, and a low-fiber diet can all cause you to experience constipation. However, if you’re pregnant, you could be experiencing constipation for other reasons.
Constipation during pregnancy is thought to be caused by the following:
Constipation in pregnant women is thought to be caused by hormones that relax the intestinal muscle. Relaxation of the intestinal muscle causes food and waste to move slower through your system, thus leading to constipation.
Consuming more iron than usual
Prenatal vitamins can often contain additional iron as pregnant women are more susceptible to anemia. Your doctor may have also prescribed you iron tablets. Additional iron in your diet can sometimes cause constipation. If you think that may be the cause, talk to your doctor about your iron intake and see if there are natural alternative to get the iron you need. Sometimes it’s just as simple as switching to a different type of prenatal vitamin.
In early pregnancy vomiting due to morning sickness, or not consuming fluids because you feel so nauseous, can contribute to dehydration. In addition, water takes on additional roles during pregnancy. For example, water is an essential part of the placenta (which delivers nutrients to your baby) and amniotic sac (which cushions your baby throughout pregnancy). Your body is using much more water during pregnancy than usual, and that’s why you need to consume more in order to avoid dehydration.
Dehydration during pregnancy should be avoided as much as possible, not only because it can cause constipation, but also because it can cause other health issues that can negatively affect you and your growing baby.
How to safely alleviate constipation during pregnancy
There are usually restrictions on medication you can take while pregnant. If your constipation is severe, talk to your OB/GYN and let them know you need help. There are some pregnancy safe medications you can take, but you’ll want to ensure your doctor says it’s okay.
In the meantime, here are some natural, pregnancy-safe ways to alleviate constipation during pregnancy:
Incorporate more fiber into your diet.
Eating more fiber can be a natural aid in your fight against constipation. Some fiber-rich foods to incorporate into your diet include:
- Old-fashioned oats
Drink plenty of fluids.
Dehydration can be an issue for pregnant women in general. It’s important to consume more water than usual when you’re expecting a baby. As a general rule, you should be consuming at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day. If you’re expecting more than one baby, you’ll need to consume at least a gallon of water per day.
In addition, try to avoid drinks that dehydrate you, such as heavily caffeinated drinks. Coffee can be a natural laxative, but too much and dehydration will cause the opposite problem.
A gentle exercise routine (that’s approved by your doctor) is a great way to battle constipation while pregnant. Walking, swimming, and cycling (on a stationary bike) are fantastic ways to get moving and hopefully get your bowels moving, too.
Remember, if you’re experiencing uncomfortable or worrisome symptoms like constipation during pregnancy, always be sure to discuss it with your doctor.
While constipation during pregnancy is considered normal, it’s still important to let your doctor know about it. Their job is to monitor both you and your baby during pregnancy to ensure everyone is healthy and progressing normally. No question about your symptoms or concerns is off-limits!
Are you looking for an OB/GYN and live in the San Tan Valley? Let us join you on your unique and beautiful pregnancy journey. Book an appointment today!