Along with so many little pregnancy discomforts, constipation can affect many women who have never suffered with it before. However, just like haemorrhoids (piles) and wind and bloating there are some ideas worth trying to relieve the symptoms and make for a happier pregnancy.
Why do you get constipated in pregnancy?
There are a few different factors which can bring on constipation in pregnancy, even in women who have never experienced it before.
You might have changed your diet, either for health reasons or because your tastes and cravings have changed. Morning sickness, for example, may have put you off a certain food which was always a useful source of fibre. This can affect your regular bowel cycle.
If your doctor has advised you to take certain supplements (including iron, for example) this can bring on constipation.
The body also makes hormonal changes in pregnancy in order to prepare for the growing bump. You have more progesterone running round your system in order to help your muscles relax to let bones move for this growth. However, this can lead to more back ache for women who need the extra muscle support, and it can mean the muscles controlling the intestine get more sluggish at pushing your food along your digestive system.
If you are taking less exercise because you are feeling tired, or feeling the weight of your baby, this might hamper efficient bowel movement too.
What can you do about pregnancy constipation?
Eat well Try to increase the amount of fibre you are having in your diet. You don't need to overdo it with too many iron-heavy foods, but a cereal at breakfast time and keeping up your five-a-day portions of fruit and veg will really help. Make sure you take a good look at your pregnancy diet for your own well-being and the health of the growing fetus.
Drink well Try to limit the amount of caffeine you are taking in and have more water.
Take a walk Exercising, even just walking around, can really help to 'get things moving'. Perhaps after breakfast each morning, go for a walk round the block (or two) to get your body working.
Do your pelvic floor exercises By doing your pelvic floor exercises you are not only preparing valuable muscles for carrying the extra pregnancy weight, the birth and post-natal recovery, but you are also encouraging blood-flow to your lower half which can help keep your system healthy, including combatting haemorrhoids (piles).
Take a natural remedy Some treatments, that you add to water as a drink, are safe to take in pregnancy and after the birth. Ask at a pharmacist for constipation relief remedies that are pregnancy-safe.
Keep something to read by the loo! Try to avoid straining on the toilet. It's never a very healthy thing to do and certainly not in pregnancy. Instead, try to relax whilst on the toilet. Take your mind off the moment with something to read. Many pregnant women finds this really helps to get things moving!