Have you been spending less time in the bathroom lately? Are you feeling discomfort, abdominal pain, or having infrequent bowel movements? Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this.
Based on studies, nearly 3 out of 4 women experience feeling bloated or constipated during pregnancy. It normally starts in the second trimester and lasts until the baby makes an appearance.
So why am I constipated?
Constipation in expecting women happens when there is an increase in progesterone hormones that relax the body’s muscles, including the intestines, and slows down digestion. Another culprit is the pressure of the expanding uterus to the intestines. It presses down the bowels which slow down their ability to move along.
Taking iron tablets sometimes also contributes to constipation. Make sure to drink plenty of water when taking these supplements.
How to Manage Constipation
Pregnancy limits the number of solutions to any health concerns, so here we list down some pregnancy-safe tips to manage constipation:
Drink lots of fluids.
Drink at least eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day. This helps in keeping your bowels soft and moving smoothly through the digestive tract.
Start a high-fiber diet.
Try your best to consume 25-30 grams of dietary fiber each day to prevent constipation. This can include fruits, vegetables, prunes, whole-grain bread, and bran cereals. (25-30 grams = 2 tbsp or ⅛ cup)
Break meals into smaller portions.
Instead of eating three times a day, break it up to 5-6 smaller meals. Eating large meals will make it hard for your digestive system to process what you have consumed, in the same sense that it will help your stomach pass down food quickly if broken to smaller portions and taken more frequently.
Keep moving and be active.
Exercise can help stimulate your bowels. Aim for at least 20-30 minute physical activities thrice a week.
Use stool softeners.
If nothing from the above tips worked for you, you may try to use stool softeners. They moisten your bowels to make them easier to pass.
These are considered medications so make sure to consult with your healthcare provider.
Note: Laxatives are not recommended to aid constipation during pregnancy as they may cause dehydration and also stimulate uterine contractions.
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