Almost 80% of pregnant women experience problems related to their bowel movement at some point of time during their pregnancies. Constipation is like a side effect of pregnancy. It occurs due to the natural sluggishness of the digestive tract. During pregnancy, your body secretes a muscle-relaxing hormone called “Relaxin”, which along with the other circulating pregnancy hormones causes the relaxation of entire digestive tract, making it more sluggish than usual.
If you have already been through pregnancy and childbirth once, you may have an idea of what it feels like to be constipated during pregnancy! When constipation hits the first time, especially if you are never constipated before pregnancy, it sounds like an annoying and embarrassing problem. But if ignored, it can get much worse than that. Pregnancy hormones could also cause the veins around the Anus to engorge and protrude, which are commonly called as Piles or Hemorrhoids. If constipation persists over a period, then repeated straining can cause the hemorrhoids to bleed and protrude permanently. Some women also end up having tears within their anus due to severe straining and hard stools. These so called tears also known as fissures, cause the most excruciating pain. “It just hurts like hell”, as described by those who have gone through this pain.
So if you are pregnant and constipation has just begun to bother you, it’s time to make some changes to your routine.
- You need to provide extra bulk to help your bowels move regularly, so add more fibre to your diet. Eat whole meal cereals, bran, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruit juices are excellent sources of fibre and water. Prune juice is said to be very good for relieving constipation.
- Have lots of fluids. Consume atleast 2-3 liters of water a day. Although fibre rich diet helps, it may not be of any use unless you consume enough water to make it bulkier. In fact, taking more fibre without sufficient amounts of water can just make it worse.
- Don’t ignore your body’s call for bowel evacuation. Pass stools whenever you feel the urge. Avoiding a natural urge could make constipation worse.
- Avoid straining at stool at all times. Relax and take your time. If it doesn’t happen, try a little later but don’t ever strain to push a hard stool out.
- Exercise regularly. Practice pelvic floor exercises to boost blood circulation in rectum and anus. Make it a part of your daily routine. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga are all great ways of exercising during pregnancy.
- Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol and cola’s as they take away the water from your body.
- Stop eating white bread, junk food, cakes and pastries.
- If you are getting constipated due to Iron supplements, then inform your doctor so that the prescription or dosage can be changed.
- Don’t use strong laxatives and purgatives to relieve constipation; instead try natural fibre supplements that are gentle on your digestive tract. Isapgol or Psyllium husk can help. Strong purgatives could be habit forming and also cause electrolyte imbalance in the body, so avoid their use as far as possible.
- Sleep on time and wake up early. Bowel movement is most active early mornings. Sleeping till late in the morning could make your bowels sluggish.
In spite of your best efforts, if constipation gets worse or leads to other serious problems, consult your doctor.