Dealing with Constipation During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a joyous and exciting time in your life. There are so many amazing milestones you’ll get to meet through the next 9 months. Like feeling those first little kicks! But along with those kicks and the heartbeat are some less than exciting pregnancy side effects. Like constipation.

Constipation, or the inability to have regular or easy-to-pass bowel movements is a common and sometimes frustratingly persistent side effect of pregnancy. It’s frequently attributed to the decreased muscle tone of the GI system – especially in the large intestine. Also, your body is trying to absorb as many nutrients as it can from your food intake. Slowing down the transit time of food will allow your body to do this. But it also might make you constipated.

Here are some tips to help prevent or ease constipation during pregnancy.

Easing Constipation:

Increase your fluid intake. Increasing your fluids is an easy way to ease constipation. More fluids mean your stool will be softer and easier to pass. Aim for a minimum of 64 oz of clear, non-caffeinated fluids every day.

  • If you’re feeling full all the time, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, drink smaller amounts at a time. Just make sure to drink all day long.

Increase your fiber intake. Try to aim for about 25-30 g of fiber a day. Fiber helps push the food through your GI tract at a nice, steady pace. This will help work against the natural slow-down that occurs during pregnancy.

  • These are the foods that are highest in fiber: pears, berries, beans, lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, corn, almonds, chia seeds, carrots, and broccoli.

Increase your exercise. Outside of foods, adding in additional cardio exercise can also help relieve constipation. Increased activity stimulates your GI tract and helps keep moving food through. Try adding in extra walks a few days a week.

  • Most exercise, especially walking, is not only safe but encouraged during pregnancy. However, you still need to get approval from your OB/GYN prior to starting new or increased levels of activity.

Add in a fiber supplement. If you cannot meet your fiber needs with foods alone, try adding in a fiber supplement. You can try BeneFiber, Metamucil, or Citrucel. Add in one serving or dose at a time.

  • With every dose of the fiber supplement, add 1 cup of water to prevent bloating and gas.

Try over-the-counter medications. Sometimes extra water and fibrous foods don’t work. Try taking these OTC medications: DulcoLax, MiraLax, or glycerin suppositories.

  • These OTC medications are safe to use during pregnancy. However, alert your doctor to your issues and get his/her approval before use.

Constipation may be par for the course. But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. Try incorporating these tips to find relief.

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