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Constipation During Pregnancy - And How to Get Relief

Abdominal pain, hard stools, and difficult bowel movements are all signs of constipation. While one does not have to be pregnant to experience constipation, the odds are that if pregnant, one will be constipated at some point during the pregnancy.

Why do so many pregnant women experience constipation?

Pregnancy hormones, especially progesterone, tend to relax the muscles that line the intestinal tract. This slows down the processing of food and makes it take longer to leave the body. In addition, the growing uterus puts pressure on all the organs in the abdomen.

Lack of physical exercise, not enough fiber in the diet, and worry can add to the problem.
Iron supplements have also been linked to constipation. It is important to consume plenty of fluids when taking iron, and it may become necessary to talk to one’s doctor about changing iron supplements during the pregnancy if constipation is persistent or severe.

What are the best treatments or preventive steps for constipation during pregnancy?

The steps for preventing constipation and the allowable remedies for constipation are virtually the same during pregnancy. The following is a list of steps a woman can take to prevent constipation or to treat it if she is already having trouble with it:

  • Add fiber to the diet. Whole grains, fruits, especially prunes, bran, and vegetables are all good sources of fiber.
  • Drink a lot of water. Almost any fluids will help, but water is the best for general rehydration.
  • Begin and maintain a doctor approved exercise program.
  • Some over the counter fiber supplements may be useful.
  • Stop taking iron supplements. Most women find that by eating a healthier diet during pregnancy, they do not need to take iron supplements. A doctor can check your iron levels and tell you if you need to continue the supplements.

Are there any remedies that should not be used?

Do not take laxatives under any circumstances unless ordered by a doctor. Laxatives can make the stools too loose and cause the mother to become dehydrated. They may also stimulate contractions in the uterus and bring on premature labor.

Do not use mineral oil as it could inhibit the absorption of nutrients by the mother’s body.

Video: Constipation Relief in Pregnancy

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