Constipation in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a lot of women experience constipation and other bowel disorders. As progesterone level rises, muscles in the body become relaxed (including those of the intestines) and bowel movements become irregular. These ultimately lead to constipation. Bowels problems don’t really affect a pregnant woman’s quality of life all that much. But if you’ve been spending more (or less) time in the bathroom than usual lately, at least you know you’re not alone!
Causes of constipation during pregnancy
The cause of constipation during pregnancy is dependent on the stage of pregnancy at which it occurs. These causes include:
- High levels of progesterone during early pregnancy
- Prenatal vitamins such as iron (which is usually been taken to avoid anemia) may cause constipation.
- Pressure from the growing uterus can press down the bowels and slow their ability to empty
Signs of constipation in pregnancy
- Stomach discomfort
- Hard and dry stools that are painful to pass
- Feeling that not all the stool has passed
What can I do about Constipation when I’m Pregnant?
- Drink plenty of water and other fruit juices
- Eat high-fiber meals such as beans, whole-grain bread, and bran cereal. Include fruits and leafy green vegetables into your meal plan
- Do away with refined grains such as white bread, white rice, refined cereals, and pasta
- Consider eating smaller meals more frequently
- Walk every day or do another safe exercise at least three times a week. Regular Kegel exercises can also keep your pelvic muscles stronger. You should check with your doctor and discuss what exercises are safe for you and your baby
- Since iron supplements can promote constipation, check with your health care provider about taking slow-release iron supplements or a reduction in dosages of the usual supplements until the situation gets better.
- You can also ask your healthcare provider to recommend a good probiotic supplement.
- While the recommended first-line management for constipation includes all that have been listed above, consult your doctor if things don’t seem to be moving. Stay away from osmotic and stimulant laxatives without a doctor’s prescription. Not all are safe in pregnancy.
- Constipation in pregnancy is short-lived and resolves with little or no treatment. Prolonged constipation can lead to fecal impaction.
- By itself, pregnancy enhances your risk of swollen veins around your rectum. Hence, if you’re straining to pass your stools, it can lead to hemorrhoids and make it worse
- Use of certain stimulants can cause electrolyte or fluid imbalances in some people
- Long term use of certain laxatives can make your bowels dependent on them to push stool through the intestines.
WHEN TO VISIT A DOCTOR
If you experience any of the following, kindly get in contact with your doctor as soon as possible
- Stomach pain
- Constipation that lasts for longer than 2 weeks without any form of relieve
- Bleeding from the rectum
- No relief after using a laxative
You can consult with a doctor today at eDokita. eDokita is a health technology organization that provides health services to you at your own convenience. Download eDokita app today to consult with a doctor.