Constipation is one of the common symptom during pregnancy. It affects both pregnant and non-pregnant women and can happen in the second, third, or fourth trimester. It can cause severe distress if it persists for more than 2-3 months.
It is advised that pregnant women should try to stay away from constipation-causing foods like soda, and other sugar-rich drinks.
In this article, we will be discussing some remedies that will help you deal with your constipation during pregnancy.
Constipation may often be attributed to not eating enough fiber, or eating too much solid foods. It can also be a symptom of some digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other inflammatory bowel disease.
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become less frequent and don’t move through the bowels as well as they should, or if they become hard and unusable. Constipation can become more of a problem with age or due to health problems.
A diet with too few fruits and vegetables and a lack of fiber can contribute to constipation. People who are constipated may also experience a loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating, mood changes, and frequent breaks during work or exercise.
A doctor can advise on a diet and supplements to make constipation more manageable.
Constipation during pregnancy
Constipation during pregnancy can occur in about one in every five pregnant women, usually only during the second or third trimester. Constipation can cause chronic pain, discomfort and feelings of incomplete evacuation of the bowels during your pregnancy, sometimes even leading to discomfort or pain during defecation.
As you get further into your pregnancy, this usually improves with your continued good digestion and healthy lifestyle.
Here are the causes of Constipation during pregnancy:
1. Hormonal changes that the mother goes through during the nine months of pregnancy might cause constipation.
2. Your diet may also be the cause of it. According to reports, consuming too much of certain foods like those that contain high quantities of processed food can result in constipation.
3. Your diet too, may not have the right balance of proteins, fats and fiber that helps digestion.
4. You may find it hard to pass stool and you may end up having to strain and push your stool out. You may also suffer from irregular bowel movements.
5. As the baby develops in your womb, the hormone relaxin may cause constipation. This is the most common cause of it.
6. Breastfeeding can also lead to constipation during pregnancy. It can restrict the bowel movements of your body.
7. What’s more is that the disease of constipation may continue even after you give birth. This can be dangerous, as it can lead to other health-related problems.
8. Women, who have not taken any specific preventive measures, should see a doctor if they find it difficult to pass stool. They should be treated as soon as possible.
9. If your doctor advises you to be on a stool softener, you should see it as an advantage and not as a burden. It will help you to keep your colon flexible and it will help you to pass your stool easily.
10. It’s important to be aware of the fact that once your doctor treats you with a special diet, there will be a gradual increase in your stool consistency.
What is the difference between constipation and diarrhea?
Constipation and diarrhea are both issues with bowel movements. Some times when there are large movements, there may be cramping. But it can vary. Constipation usually occurs because there is not enough fiber in the diet.
But it can also occur from a disorder that can have an effect on the colon. It is not uncommon for diarrhea to occur as a symptom of constipation. But it can also occur due to an underlying problem like parasites.
There may be a big change in the bowel movements that occurs when there is constipation or diarrhea. The frequent change in the bowel movements may be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome. It is also common for people to get constipation after eating certain foods.
Also, when people are constipated and experiencing problems in the intestine, they will often eat more than usual to help them pass the stool. But this can make things worse because it can cause the stool to become softer and more difficult to pass. The above are simple changes to your lifestyle that can help you to make your bowel movements more regular and healthier.
It can be challenging to change the way that you eat to maintain a healthy bowel movement. But it can be easier than you think and you can do it without even having to follow any particular diet or meal plan.
Do not make it harder on yourself by trying to follow a strict diet. Instead, focus on changing your eating habits to include more fiber, vegetables and fruits. This will improve your bowel movements.
However, in most of the cases, when diarrhea happens, constipation was already there. Diarrhea is an extremely common symptom of constipation. It often comes and goes over several days and may include large amounts of watery, foul-smelling, dark-colored, or tarry stools.
The most common cause of constipation
The most common cause of constipation during pregnancy is not eating enough fiber rich foods. According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, a diet high in fiber helps to maintain stool consistency, regulates bowel movements, and boosts regularity in women.
So, during pregnancy, make sure to consume fiber-rich foods, such as beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds. The fiber will help your body to pass stools easily and ease constipation. Fiber also helps in digestion, controls blood sugar levels, and help you to feel fuller for longer.
Foods that are high in fiber include:
- Whole grains
- Cashew nuts
- Pulses (chickpea, navy beans, barley)
- Curry leaves
- Leaves of avocados
Other causes of constipation in pregnancy include:
- Infections, such as malaria, jaundice, bacterial vaginosis, Candida, etc.
- Inability to move stools
- An imbalance of gut bacteria
Women may also be constipated because of problems like irritable bowel syndrome, vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid dysfunction, or diabetes. Consult a doctor before taking medicine to treat constipation.
How to avoid constipation in pregnancy
Fiber-rich foods help to maintain bowel movements during pregnancy. So, while planning for your pregnancy, you should avoid foods that are high in refined flour and added sugar. Refined grains, white rice, bagels, white bread, crackers, cookies, chips, crisps, cornflakes, white pasta, and potato are examples of refined grains.
Ways to Treat Constipation
Drink a lot of water
The simplest way to treat constipation is by drinking enough water, eating more fiber, and going to the bathroom more often. If you think you may have a medical condition causing your constipation, talk to your doctor. They may be able to help you find the right treatment for your medical condition. If nothing changes, you may need to see a gastroenterologist.
First, start by drinking a lot of water. Drinking water throughout the day will help you to feel full.
- Do not skip meals. Eat small, frequent meals.
- It is a good idea to eat porridge or a banana porridge in the morning.
- If you feel like you need to go to the bathroom, get up and go.
- When you are constipated, you may also find that you need to go very often.
- Talk to your doctor if you are having problems going to the bathroom when you need to.
Fruits like Apples, Bananas, Blueberries, Strawberries, Cranberries, Grapes, Oranges, Pears can be great for digestion.
Prenatal vitamin supplements
A study shows that taking prenatal like B6, B12, D, and folic acid can help constipation in pregnant women. There are certain vitamin supplements that you can take before and during pregnancy to help ease constipation. These supplements are usually found in capsule form. However, some of the pregnancy supplements available in the market like Lactosource are based on powder form that can be easily taken.
Grains, if consumed in the right quantity and at the right frequency can help relieve constipation. The recommended amount of grains for one-third of pregnant women is six to seven servings of grains per week. To get adequate grains, try to include cereal, barley, oats, and bran in your diet.
There are also gluten-free and lactose-free grains that can be consumed without any difficulty.
Refined carbohydrates include white bread, muffins, pasta, rice, etc. These are not a good option for pregnant women as they can cause constipation. Instead, try to eat whole-grain foods that include whole wheat, brown rice, corn, and other varieties. It is important to consume whole grains as it contains high fiber content. This can help to maintain regularity in the second and third trimester.
Home remedies for constipation
Garlic is a super-food and an amazing remedy for constipation. It is well known to have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements. It is also great for digestion.
- Wash the hands and cut a few cloves of garlic and ginger.
- Gently squeeze a little of the garlic and ginger juice on to a small amount of warm water.
- Soak it in for a few minutes and then strain it.
- Add a pinch of salt to this solution and drink it twice daily.
Onion contains fiber that helps regulate bowel movements. Onion juice is extremely beneficial for people who suffer from constipation. It also helps to neutralize the acids in the colon. It improves bowel movement and helps the body to expel extra fat that it gathers during pregnancy.
- Cut half a large onion into slices and wash them.
- Strain the onion juice and allow it to cool.
- Mix a teaspoon of onion juice with water in a cup and drink it every morning. You can also make a powder out of onion juice by mixing it with a few tablespoons of honey.
Fenugreek is another wonderful natural remedy for constipation. It is a good source of magnesium and fiber, which helps to keep the intestines healthy. It has also been used to treat abdominal pain, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Fenugreek powder is available in India and you can buy it in any ayurvedic store.
- Cut a few fenugreek leaves and soak them in water for a few hours.
- Strain the water and allow it to cool.
- Mix it with half a teaspoon of honey.
- Sip a cup of it thrice daily.
Aloe vera contains calcium and other minerals that are crucial for maintaining healthy bowel movements. It also contains properties that help to balance the natural balance of fluids in the digestive tract. The juice of aloe vera is another great natural remedy for constipation. You can also add 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel to a cup of warm water and drink it twice a day.
Goat’s milk is rich in vitamin B12, which is necessary for normal digestive function. Goat’s milk also contains antioxidants that are essential for a healthy bowel. Goat’s milk has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to deal with constipation and other digestive problems.
- Take one teaspoon of goat’s milk daily.
Raw milk is also a great natural remedy for constipation. The lactose in the milk is what causes constipation. According to various studies, drinking raw milk can also improve digestion and stimulate the growth of new cells. Raw milk is also a good source of essential nutrients that can regulate bowel movements. Drink a glass of raw milk every morning before breakfast.
Constipation is a common symptom during pregnancy that can be treated by a diet that is rich in fiber and fluids. If a pregnant woman is suffering from constipation she can consult her doctor. Before starting the diet, keep in mind that pregnant women have to balance the food intake and avoid overeating as it may cause constipation.