Prevent constipation in pregnancy
It is normal that when becoming pregnant our body begins a process of adaptation through changes that can usually cause discomfort, some of which are unavoidable, but for others we can turn to different treatments that can help us to relieve them.
At least 1 in 3 pregnant women suffer from constipation
Constipation in pregnancy is more common than we imagine, in fact, a study published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists revealed that about 50% of pregnant women will feel constipated at some point during pregnancy.
According to this research, 24% of women will have constipation in the first trimester of pregnancy, 26% in the second trimester and 16% in the last trimester.
Therefore, it is normal that when we are pregnant we begin to notice difficulties in going to the bathroom, but we should not wait for the discomfort to disappear on its own. In this article we will find everything we need to know to prevent and treat constipation in pregnancy.
What is constipation?
In reality, constipation is not considered a disease as such, but rather a symptom of another condition or a consequence of eating habits that affect normal bowel function.
Constipation consists of an alteration of the large intestine as a result of excessive water retention that leads to hardening of the stool, making it very difficult, painful or infrequent expulsion.
Constipation in pregnancy is mainly due to physiological changes that our body undergoes
What causes constipation in pregnancy?
According to research carried out by the Spanish Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in 2014, constipation appears in at least 1 out of every three pregnant women, which is mainly due to the physiological changes our body undergoes due to pregnancy.
It is common for us to have difficulty going to the bathroom when we are pregnant.
However, according to the study, there are some factors that further promote its emergence:
At the top of the list of factors that can cause constipation in pregnancy is progesterone, a hormone that our body produces in large amounts during pregnancy to relax the muscles of the uterus, but its effect also extends to the digestive tract, especially the intestine, slowing the movement of food through the intestinal musculature.
- Increased water absorption
Since our body needs more water during pregnancy, we absorb as much of the food we eat as possible. In this way, food that has already been drained is transformed into harder stools that are difficult to evacuate.
- Growth of the Uterus
The growth of the uterus as the pregnancy progresses is also a cause of constipation, due to the pressure it exerts on our digestive system, compressing the intestines, making the transit of feces even slower. And this pressure tends to worsen during the last trimester, making us more likely to suffer constipation in pregnancy at this stage.
- Iron consumption
In addition to all the causes caused by changes in our body due to pregnancy, there are external factors that can also contribute to us feeling constipated, such as the consumption of iron supplements, which in high doses can cause constipation or worsen it if we already have the discomfort.
Symptoms of Constipation in Pregnancy
Swelling and the feeling of heaviness are the main discomforts of constipation in pregnancy.
Swelling and the feeling of heaviness are the main symptoms of constipation, but they are not the only ones we can feel. Among the list of constipation hassles we have:
- Inability to have more than three bowel movements per week
- Strain and pain when you have a bowel movement
- Feeling of incomplete bowel movements
- Sensation of obstruction or blockage
- It’s hard.
Eating foods high in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, prevents constipation in pregnancy.
There are several things we can do to prevent constipation from becoming a headache during pregnancy.
1. Drink plenty of water
Drinking 8 glasses of water a day will allow us to improve the functioning of our digestive system. Drinking a glass of water at room temperature on an empty stomach every morning is also usually a highly recommended measure.
2. Eating fiber-rich foods
The problem will get better if we start including fruits, vegetables and other fiber-rich foods in our diet, as these work as natural laxatives. Raisins, carrots, some fruit juices, whole wheat bread and bran cereals are a good choice.
3. Checking the level of iron in vitamins
If the vitamins we take have high doses of iron, we can consult our doctor to see if it is possible to take a supplement with less iron or lower the dose while solving constipation.
4. Stay active
Being pregnant is not at all an impediment to exercise, on the contrary, doing cardiovascular exercises such as walking, swimming or yoga, not only will help us prevent or reduce constipation, they will also make us start to feel healthier and fit.
5. Seek medical advice
If the constipation is persistent and the symptoms worsen then we should consult our doctor to prescribe the treatments required in our case. However, the combination of diet and exercise will always be the best option.
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