Pregnancy Constipation

Constipation in pregnancy is common
Nearly every pregnant woman will suffer from some form of constipation, be it mild or severe. In pregnancy, the digestive system slows down and becomes sluggish. This is so that the intestines can extract every possible bit of nutrition from food, drink, and vitamins that are ingested. The developing fetus needs many nutrients to grow properly and the slowing digestive system works to supply as much as it can.

Because of this, water is absorbed by the body instead of passing through with the waste resulting in a drier waste product. This is what causes the constipation, along with weakened pelvic floor muscles. Also, as the uterus grows, it can push down on the bowels, causing more constipation.

There may be many factors that are part of pregnancy constipation.  On this page you will find info on the most common reasons and some suggestions to help you have regular bowel movements during pregnancy.

Possible Reasons for Pregnancy Constipation:

1.  Irregular bowel movements before pregnancy. Now that you are having a baby, all the changes to your body can add to that if you don’t take steps to help the bowels have daily movements.  There are many reasons why it is so important to have regular movements (2-3 per day) for optimal health.

2. You need more water daily when you are pregnant.

3.  Not enough bulk fiber to help keep the bowels moving.

4.  An improper balance of good and bad bacteria in the colon.

5.  Over the counter or prescription prenatals that are synthetic and chemically made

Often, the iron in most prescribed and over the counter prenatals can bind up the colon and cause pregnancy constipation.  This is due often to how the vitamins are chemically processed.

To start, you may want to try the Prenatal Vitamins I recommend here on the NoMorningSickness.com site. Read the info on the Prenatal Vitamin page to find out how these are different and how they can help you avoid pregnancy constipation.The way these are made, they really are gentle on the stomach (gets rid of the pregnancy nausea) and won’t bind up the colon.

To help the bowels move without any chemical stimulants so you can be regular, here are some other suggestions that are very gentle for you and can be used during pregnancy.

If you are suffering from pregnancy constipation, be sure to increase the water you drink and add extra fresh fruits and vegetables to your food intake. Ideally – eat your veggies raw and uncooked. (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery and Raw Beets are all excellent vegetables for natural fiber. They work sort of like a ‘broom’ in the colon to help keep you regular.)

Fiber in the diet will also help eliminate or relieve constipation in pregnancy
Other sources of fiber for the diet are cereals, whole grains pastas and breads. Be sure to avoid the ‘whites’ in these food types. ‘White’ foods often are so overprocessed that any fiber or bulk is gone. In fact, they do the opposite. They are so refined that when made wet (from drink, saliva, etc.) – they turn ‘gluey’ in the colon. They can add to the problem.

You want whole grain breads, brown rice, and if you can find them in your area, look for pastas that are made from grains and flours other than white flours.

The colon uses fiber to make up the bulk of stools. If a stool is not the proper bulk, it will not move quickly enough through the bowel system and become dried out. Foods high in soluble fiber are important, as the bacteria in the digestive tract converts the soluble fiber into a type of gel that makes bowel movements soft and easier to pass.

Insoluble fiber comes from the cell walls of plants and the human digestive system cannot break it down. These fibers get passed into the colon and swell, giving needed bulk to the stool. A bulky stool causes the tract to have muscle contractions which move the stool along. Without this fiber, the stool will move sluggishly.

If you are not a good raw vegetable eater, but want natural, safe bulking fiber to help keep you regular, here are two options:

Everybody’s Fiber This product provides natural fiber in a drink formula.  It contains additional nutritional support.

Pysllium Hulls Combo

If you have been constipated, there is a good chance that the balance of healthy bacteria is not in proportion.  You can tell if there is an abundance of bad bacteria simply by the smell of your movement.  If your movement is overly putrid or smelly- then you may want to re-balance out the good and bad bacteria.  Healthy bowel movements have very little to no odor.  Two good products to help readjust the good and bad bacteria levels in the colon are:

Acidophilus

Bifidophilus

As you progress in your pregnancy, a good Maternity belt not only can give you back and posture support, an orthopedically designed belt (like the one here) can help keep the uterus and abdomen lifted. This support helps to keep oxygen flowing around your organs, and, it can aide in keeping the growing baby from resting on the spine and nerves that effect your elimination system.

Exercise every day to build up your muscles
The pelvic floor muscles are key in helping you remove the waste from your body more easily. If they are in a weakened state, even a normal bowel movement can be more difficult to pass. You may have hear of Keigel exercises which is the pelvic floor muscle strengthener. Keigels are done by squeezing the pelvic floor muscle as tight as you can for ten seconds, then releasing for ten seconds. If you’re not sure how to do these exercises, try stopping your urine in midflow.

The squeezing of muscles you did to stop that flow is exactly what you need to do to perform those exercises. Working these muscles will not only help with moving stool, but also when labor comes.

Normal low impact aerobics are also well known for helping keep the bowels moving.  Low impact aerobics and walking stimulate the colon to have peristaltic action.  This action is what keeps the colon muscle tone. When it’s tone, it will eliminate easier.

Keep your fluids up during pregnancy
Keep your fluids up to prevent constipation during pregnancy – the removal of fluids from the foods as they pass through your body is at it’s highest rate ever. Pure water is preferable over soft drinks and other caffeine containing drinks. Caffeinated drinks will actually cause fluid loss in the body which will make constipation worse. Clear soup, fruit juice, and vegetable juice is great for hydration.

Drinking a warm cup of tea or other drink may help get the bowels moving, as well. Hydration is important for every person, but especially for pregnant women as it is very easy to become dehydrated during this time. Extra water in the body will help soften the stools and make them easier to pass. Six to eight glasses of fluids are recommended for adults, more if constipated.

Take a break if you are having too much trouble eliminating

Straining too much or trying to go too often will tire you out, cause pain, and may even cause hemorrhoids. These are bulging veins around the rectum and are very uncomfortable. Pain, burning, and itching are common symptoms of hemorrhoids. Sometimes they will bleed, which can be a scary sight for someone who has never had hemorrhoids. The discomfort can be very painful, leading to avoiding the bathroom which will result in even more constipation. Resting and taking it slow when visiting the bathroom can help you avoid these problems. Also, a small, low stool in front of the toilet to place your feet on can help eliminate the need for straining.

Aloe Vera

Intestinal Soothe & Build

If you have any questions, or would like to talk privately about your prenancy nutrition needs and questions, contact me.  Please be sure to leave your name, email address, phone and what part of the USA you are in. Also, if you can let me know when it’s best to contact you back, that will be helpful.

Thank you!

Debbra