The joys of pregnancy, right? But, unfortunately, constipation is a common side effect during pregnancy that over 50% of expecting mothers experiencing at some point during their pregnancy. It is most pronounced in the later stages of pregnancy. In this blog, we discuss why some women develop constipation during pregnancy and how to reduce it.
Constipation during pregnancy
The five main reasons for constipation
- During the pregnancy, there is a marked increase in the hormone progesterone that helps to relax your body’s muscles, including the muscles of your bowels which slows the movement of food through your digestive tract.
- Many women move less during pregnancy, especially in the late stages of their pregnancy, when they’re carrying all that extra baby weight. Less physical activity also slows the movement of food throughout your gastrointestinal system that causes constipation.
- Pregnant require significantly more fluid during pregnancy. During pregnancy, dehydrated make your poo hard.
- As your baby grows in your uterus, which puts pressure on your bowels, particularly your rectum (where stools are stored) which can make them difficult to pass, and
- During pregnancy, high iron levels in perinatal multivitamins or iron supplements can bind to food in your intestines that slow digestion.
So, what can we do to reduce constipation during pregnancy?
Here, some simple and effective strategies that you can utilize to help regulate your bowels. But if these don’t work for you, it’s crucial to talk to your prenatal dietitian because chronic or severe constipation can lead to the development of haemorrhoids which can cause further problems down the track.
1. Make sure that you’re eating adequate fibre-rich food
I see few of the women suffer from constipation while meeting the recommended fibre requirements, so it is necessary to keep a food diary and check that you’re getting enough fibre. Eat fibre-rich foods such as whole grains, fresh fruit and plenty of vegetables every day.
2. Keep your fluids up
During pregnancy, dehydration is a common cause of constipation as pregnant mummas have significantly higher fluid requirements than other women. Pregnant women may feel like peeing all day, but keep drinking! Especially if your wee is coloured.
3. Be active throughout the day
To making you feel fitter and healthier, gentle exercise can stimulate bowel muscles to help keep you regular. Walking, swimming and cycling on a stationary bike are all ideal physical activities that you can do throughout your pregnancy (but check with your healthcare professional if you have any other medical conditions & problems).
4. Review your nutritional supplements
Too much iron during pregnancy(from supplements) can increase constipation. Check your iron requirements by reviewing your blood tests and oral iron intake with the help dietitian, then consider whether you can cease or reduce iron-containing nutritional supplements.
Constipation concerns usually resolve after the birth of a baby, but they can develop at any point in time, so it is important to practice to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy to prevent constipation from re-occurring when you have your baby to look after as well.