More than 50% of all pregnant women suffer some degree of constipation. As you may already know, suffering from symptoms of constipation alone can be uncomfortable, painful, embarrassing, and frustrating all at the same time. Now imagine having to go through the pains of constipation during pregnancy.
Generally, a woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy that can make her uncomfortable, such as extreme tiredness, tender/swollen breasts, swollen ankles, skin blemishes, upset stomach (morning sickness), cravings or distaste for certain foods, mood swings, headaches, weight gain or loss, and the urge to urinate more often, just to name a few. When constipation is added to the list of aches and pains, it can make her feel worse.
4 Causes of Constipation for Pregnant Women
Constipation in early pregnancy can sometimes cause many other symptoms, such as bloating, excess gas, heartburn, and back pain. Bottom line, constipation tends to be more pronounced during pregnancy and here’s why:
1. Change in Hormones (especially during early pregnancy)
When a woman becomes pregnant, her body puts out special hormones for softening her ligaments and muscles. One of these hormones is called progesterone, which acts by relaxing muscles. On the positive side, this aids in the birthing process by allowing foods consumed to stay longer for both mother and child to absorb nutrients. On the challenging side, relaxed intestinal muscles mean less frequent bowel contractions, thereby causing food and waste to move slower through your digestive system. The longer the stool sits in the large intestine, the harder and drier it gets, which means constipation.
2. Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal Vitamins, particularly those containing iron, can potentially cause or possibly aggravate constipation for pregnant women. Although iron can help keep pregnant women from becoming anemic, know that iron can also be very harsh on the digestive tract and is known to cause constipation. Consuming the right amount of nutrients is important for the development of your baby, so be sure to talk to your doctor about the best prenatal vitamins you can take.
3. Pressure of the Baby on the Intestines
Pregnant women may become constipated when their uterus expands due to the weight of the baby pushing down on the bowel and intestines, making it difficult for fecal matter to pass through. In the event she is experiencing pain from laceration, she might be afraid to have bowel movements. As a result, consciously or unconsciously, she will find herself holding the waste in to avoid excruciating pains, which in turn worsens the constipation.
4. Loss of Bladder Control (Incontinence)
Generally, most pregnant women experience loss of bladder control in the third trimester, when the baby has grown so much, that the baby’s weight is pressed up against the mother’s bladder. As a result of added pressure on it, the amount of urine the bladder can hold is reduced, causing the mom to potentially lose control of her bladder and wanting to urinate more often.
Now add constipation to loss of bladder control during pregnancy. Pregnant women who are constipated may develop a more aggravated, intense and problematic bladder control problem. In addition to the baby’s weight bearing down on the bladder, the added pressure of a backed up bowel can cause urinary incontinence from the intestinal discomfort. On the flip side, some women may experience the opposite where the added weight on the bladder makes it more difficult for them to urinate.
- Not drinking enough water
- Not exercising regularly
- Irregular Eating Habits
- Stress, Worry and Anxiety
- Inadequate consumption of dietary fiber
Preventing Constipation in Early Pregnancy
Good News! You don’t have to be miserable with the company of constipation for 9 months. Pregnant women can significantly lessen, if not decrease, the pains of constipation in early pregnancy by taking health-minded, preventative measures which also include improving lifestyle habits.
- Develop an organic diet with plenty of raw fibrous vegetables and fruits as well as raw nuts and seeds. Reduce consumption of dairy and meat products. Most importantly, avoid any foods that cause constipation.
- Engage in plenty of exercise to tone your body and sweat out as many potential toxins as you can
- Do not drink dehydrating colas, coffee and especially alcohol. Not only can they all may harm the development of the baby, but they may also cause you to become constipated.
- Don’t fight the urge to go to the bathroom. If you feel like you need to go, then go immediately. Try to get on a regular routine for bowel movements.
- Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of purified water throughout the day. It is wise to drink at least 6-8 glasses everyday.
- Get plenty of rest at night. Try to wind down and relax after a long day. Get plenty of sleep . If your sleep schedule has been rough, try taking little breaks throughout the day
- As hard as it may seem, reducing your overall levels of stress will go a long way towards a happy and healthy pregnancy.
So be good to your baby and yourself and take measures to relieve constipation before it develops into a more serious health concern.
Can I Use Oxy-Powder For Constipation While Pregnant?
Please do not use Oxy-Powder® during the first trimester. After the first trimester, please consult with your health care practitioner before using Oxy-Powder® during pregnancy or while nursing. Most doctors feel comfortable recommending Oxy-Powder® to their pregnant and nursing patients, but in a reduced dosage. They will help you determine proper dosage. Generally, the recommended dose is half of the suggested dose. In some cases, taking Oxy-Powder® while breastfeeding may have caused the baby’s stool to become loose, if this happens, the mother should reduce her dosage until the baby’s stool returns to normal.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
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