Constipation is a common problem during pregnancy. Almost four out of 10 women face this problem during pregnancy. Hormone progesterone relaxes smooth muscles throughout the body including digestive tract, resulting in slow passing of food through intestines.
You’re more likely to have constipation if you:
- are prone to constipation,
- are not drinking enough fluid,
- have morning sickness and are struggling to eat,
- have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Some iron tablets used to treat anaemia may make cause constipation. As your pregnancy progresses, your growing baby will put more pressure on your pelvic area making your constipation worse.
If you have to strain to poo, your risk of developing piles (haemorrhoids) increases. Not treating constipation can make piles worse, so the sooner you tackle constipation, the better.
How can you prevent Constipation during pregnancy?
1. Water- Dehydration for a very long time can trigger constipation. Keep sipping water throughout the day. Experts say that you should at least drink 1.5 litres of water everyday.
2. High-fibre diet- Have a balanced diet full of wholegrain cereals, fruits and vegetables and wholemeal bread. This will provide you with roughage to aid your digestion.
3. Exercise- Walking, swimming, gentle cycling on an exercise bike, or pregnancy exercise classes can be very helpful. Yoga is another great way of keeping constipation at bay.
Tips to ease Constipation during pregnancy
Try to have some of the following fruits and vegetables every day:
- Vegetables, such as celery, cabbage, and spinach.
- Wholegrain cereals and wholemeal bread.
- Beans, lentils and pulses.
- Fresh fruit, such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and grapes.
- Dried fruit, particularly prunes.
The seeds from plantain, called Psyllium (ispaghula husks), may be effective for constipation, especially if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Psyllium can interact with some medicines, so check with your doctor before taking it.
Linseeds (Flaxseeds) are rich in fibre and essential fatty acids, and are another alternative to psyllium. Try sprinkling a few seeds on your breakfast cereal, yoghurt or salads. Drink at least one large glass of water for each dessertspoonful of
Linseeds you have. Too many linseeds can cause diarrhoea and, sometimes can trigger allergic reactions.
Ask your doctor to prescribe a different brand of iron tablet if the one you are taking makes you constipated. If you have been diagnosed with anaemia, try to add pulses or red meat, and dark green vegetables in your meals, along with your prescribed supplement. In some cases, probiotics may help to relieve pregnancy constipation. But do check with your doctor before starting it. If constipation becomes severe, your doctor may even prescribe a laxative that is safe to use in pregnancy.
Pelvic floor relaxation
When you feel the need to go to the toilet, take some time. Sit on the toilet, breathe deeply, then exhale so that your pelvic floor muscles relax, but try not to strain. You can use a footstool to raise up your feet, which is the ideal position to do a poo.
Therapies that you can try:
There are a few therapies that you can try, although there is no study to support the effectiveness of these therapies. If you still want to try any therapies, choose a practitioner who is registered, experienced and insured, and has experience of treating pregnant women.
1. Aromatherapy- You can add three to four drops of essential oils such as sweet orange, lime, lemon or grapefruit to a teaspoonful of carrier oil (preferably grapeseed) to your bath. Relax in the warm water for some time. If possible massage your tummy gently in a clockwise direction.
Do not massage too firmly, especially if you are at a risk of premature labour, or if you have low lying placenta (placenta praevia).
2. Acupressure or acupuncture- An acupressure or acupuncture point related to digestion is somewhere in the middle of your belly, about three finger-widths below your navel. Press it gently for about 20 to 30 times and repeat several times a day. If your constipation persists, you can consult a qualified practitioner of acupuncture or acupressure. Some studies suggest that acupuncture relieves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but we cannot say for sure that acupuncture can ease constipation during pregnancy.
3. Herbal remedies- You can also have dandelion or mallow tea, made from the leaves of the plants. Add the leaves in boiling water and drink it daily to ease constipation.
Senna is an old remedy for constipation and is considered to be safe in small doses and for short periods in pregnancy, under the supervision of your doctor. However, senna should not be taken in third trimester, as it may stimulate the womb and cause strong Braxton Hicks contractions.
4. Homeopathy- There is no study that supports the effectiveness of homeopathy during pregnancy. However, if you still want to try it, make sure that you see a qualified and registered homeopath.
We advise you to check with your doctor and check for your allergies before trying any home remedy.
Have a safe pregnancy and for all pregnancy related information download Pregnancy Health, Diet and Fitness by Ango!