How to Avoid Constipation during Pregnancy?
Constipation is a very common, though little acknowledged symptom of pregnancy, especially in its early stages. Many factors are responsible for this. Though some causes of constipation during pregnancy are inevitable, such as the effect of pregnancy hormones on the movement of intestinal muscles and the pressure of the fetus on the rectum, a lot can still be done to try and resolve this discomfort.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber cannot be digested by humans and therefore forms the bulk of the undigested matter in the feces. It is essential for the movement of materials through the large intestine; pregnant women should consume at least 25 grams a day. Fiber is found in high amounts in raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, and guava. Roti and lentils also contain high amounts of fiber. A diet rich in these foods has the added benefit of supplying the pregnant woman with much needed vitamins and antioxidants.
• Try to avoid eating sugary, processed and creamy foods as these can increase constipation.
Drink Lots of Water
Dehydration can cause the stool to become dry and hard. Drinking water is always important, and is especially important for pregnant women. The water is required to dilute not only woman’s own waste, but also that of the fetus. WhattoExpect recommends that a pregnant woman consumes an average of 12 glasses of water a day (that’s 33 percent more than the non-pregnant recommended value of 8). This will help soften the intestines and keep things moving smoothly as well as alleviate other unpleasant pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, swelling and urinary tract infections.
One effective remedy to avoid constipation during pregnancy is to gently massage the stomach, rubbing it in circular motions. This is not, however recommended for women who are at risk of premature labor.
Exercise stimulates the bowels, thereby reducing constipation. Pregnant women should try to engage in mild exercise such as walking, swimming, or even prenatal yoga at least three times a week.
Cut Out on Caffeine
Caffeine is a powerful diuretic, meaning, it results in increased urination and the rapid loss of water from the body. You’ve probably heard the old wives’ tale that you should stay away from tea during pregnancy. This is true! Though it’s not necessary to cut caffeine out entirely, pregnant women should try to reduce their intake. Read: Why you may want to skip that third cup of coffee if you’re trying for a baby.
Consider Ditching the Supplements
Dietary supplements, particularly iron tablets are known to cause constipation during pregnancy. You might want to talk to your doctor about prescribing different tablets, or substituting tablets for certain nutrient rich foods, if you believe the tablets may be the cause of your constipation.
Pelvic Floor Relaxation
Pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that support the bowels, bladder and uterus. Relaxing them can improve bowel movements. When you need to use the restroom, make sure you have sufficient privacy. Try to breathe deeply and relax your pelvic floor muscles. It may help to place a footstool in front of your toilet and place your feet on it, with your knees bent. Such a squatting position is considered the ideal, natural position for defecation.