Pregnancy is a time when your body changes, your hormones are all topsy-turvy and symptoms you never experienced before start to show up on a daily basis. One thing that changes pretty early on is your bowel movement.
A new study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reveals that around 44% of pregnant women suffer from constipation during their second trimester, while about 36% of pregnant women suffer from it during the third trimester. What’s more, many pregnant women continue to experience constipation for months after delivering their baby.
The effects of having constipation during pregnancy
The study highlights the fact that since gastrointestinal problems can have an immensely negative effect on both physical as well as mental health (especially during pregnancy), issues like constipation should be dealt with immediately instead of being ignored. This is because severe constipation during pregnancy can lead to complications like urinary and faecal incontinence (the inability to control urine and stool release), pelvic organ prolapse and hemorrhoids.
These issues can make your pregnancy, as well as the childbirth experience, a lot worse. Not to mention the fact that hemorrhoids bursting or bleeding during delivery is a traumatic experience and takes a long time to heal. The problem with dealing with constipation during pregnancy is that not all over-the-counter medications or laxatives can be taken to soften your stool, especially without consulting your doctor first.
Tips to deal with constipation during pregnancy
The saving grace here is that constipation is one of the problems you can deal with pretty easily with proper and timely interventions. These interventions are natural and easy to follow, so adopting them shouldn’t be a problem. The following are the most effective ways to deal with constipation during pregnancy.
- Get more fiber: Consuming more dietary fiber through your food is the best way to naturally soften and regulate your stool. This is because fiber is insoluble and can add much-needed bulk to your stool. So eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds from the very beginning of your pregnancy.
- Drink water: With the focus of pregnancy diets on vital nutrients, people often forget that water is also a key component and one without which your bowel movements won’t be easy. Nothing softens the stool as much as water does, so make sure you drink eight to 12 glasses (or 2.3 litres) of water every day when you’re pregnant.
- Be active: Exercising and being active are easy and natural ways to stimulate your digestive system. Walking for 20-30 minutes every day, swimming or practising pregnancy-safe yoga asanas every day can help you regulate your bowel movements and manage constipation.
- Eat small meals: Eating large meals can put a huge strain on your digestive system and this, in turn, can lead to constipation. Eat smaller meals and do so more frequently during the day if you have hunger pangs. It’s also important to avoid rich and spicy foods which can tax the digestive system when you’re pregnant.