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Constipated in Pregnancy? 6 Natural Home Remedies

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Article Summary:

        1. Constipation often happens during pregnancy, but you don’t have to suffer

       2. 5 common causes of constipation in pregnancy

       3. We share 6 safe, natural, and low-cost home remedies you can try

       4. You should talk to your doctor if you think you need a stool softener

       5. If you have other constant digestive issues, talk to your doctor immediately

Constipated in Pregnancy? 6 Natural Home Remedies

If you’re pregnant and experiencing constipation, don’t worry, it’s normal. The changes that take place in a pregnant woman’s body makes it easier for constipation to occur. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe and natural home remedies that both relieve constipation and are safe for baby too.

What causes constipation in pregnancy?

Constipation in pregnancy can occur for many reasons. The pregnancy hormone progesterone gets a lot of the blame. Your body releases it to prepare the body for delivery and one of its side effects is that it relaxes your bowels. As a result, food moves more slowly through your digestive tract, slowing down how fast it leaves and increasing the chance you become constipated.

Often the effects of progesterone start to appear around the end of the first trimester, in the second or third month. Progesterone, however, isn’t the only reason. Other reasons you may become constipated when pregnant include:

        Iron supplements. Some women need to boost their iron levels when pregnant. Iron supplements are one of the simplest ways, but they can be binding.

        Less activity. Feeling tired. Not being able to exercise as much. Discomfort moving, especially as your pregnancy progresses. These can all have a significant impact on how active you are and how much exercise you do. Less movement contributes to constipation.

        Your expanding uterus. As your baby grows and your uterus expands, all the rest of your organs get squeezed. Less room, especially with relaxed bowel muscles, can mean less movement.

        Stress, worry, and anxiety. Worry and anxiety are perfectly normal feelings for an expectant mother. This can lead to stress, a known cause of constipation.  

        Not enough fiber in the diet. The modern Western diet is notoriously low in natural fibers that help keep the bowels active and moving. A diet high in processed and refined foods is a common cause of constipation in all adults, not just pregnant women.

Of course, if constipation often happens during pregnancy, it is worth asking, what is considered normal?

Bowel movements in pregnancy: what is considered normal?

A slowdown in bowel function following the second or third month is normal. One study found that 75% of women reported a bowel disorder at their first-trimester evaluation.    

 

Bowel health and movement will vary from one woman to another, and maybe even one pregnancy to another for the same woman. Food sensitivities can develop during pregnancy and lead to constipation’s opposite, diarrhea.

 

What is considered normal may be the slowing of bowel function, but ultimately every pregnancy is unique.

 

Safe, natural home remedies for constipation in pregnancy

You have to be careful about what you eat and do when pregnant. Sometimes the restrictions can feel burdensome. The good news is that dealing with constipation doesn’t have to be one of them.

Any of these natural remedies for constipation generally follow dietary and lifestyle suggestions to keep you and baby healthy. Of course, if you have any questions, you should always consult with your doctor.

1. Drink Water

A glass of water will help to soften stool, making it easier to pass bowel movements. If water isn’t to your taste, you can also drink, detox water, juices, or vegetable broths. A warm lemon “tea” – warm water with half a fresh lemon squeezed into it – can also help get things moving as citrus stimulates bowel movement. You do want to avoid sugary juices, though – they can have a significant impact on your blood sugar. If you drink juice, drink freshly made juices that still contain the plant fiber (unstrained).

General recommendations for good health is to drink 8-10 glasses of water or fluids a day (8 oz). 

2. Get more dietary fiver

Natural, raw foods high in fiber help make your stool easier to pass, plus they come from foods that contain the nutrients that you need when pregnant. Recommended daily values for fiber say you want between 25 to 35 grams daily. Our ancestors ate a lot more than that, so rather than tracking another metric, just focus on eating fiber-rich foods.

Fruits are high in fiber. Fresh vegetables are too. You can also eat whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and legumes like peas and chickpeas. 

3. Eat prunes or drink prune juice

Prunes contain fiber. They also contain sorbitol, a plant sugar with laxative-like properties. And research shows prunes work better than many common laxatives – and safer too.

You can eat 6-7 prunes for persistent problems or fewer if you’re just looking to keep things moving. Drinking prune juice works for many too.

It should be noted that prunes are a source of iron, so if you are taking an iron supplement, you should take this into consideration.

4. Add dietary probiotic foods to your diets

Probiotic foods like sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh help stimulate digestion and deliver those helpful bacteria that live in your digestive tract, supporting digestion and nutrient absorption. Among the many benefits of probiotics, they also help keep you regular.

Dietary sources of probiotics are generally recognized as safe. If you wish to take a probiotic supplement, speak with your doctor to confirm the best one for you. 

5. Exercise gently

Exercise, even moderate movement, like a pleasant walk can go a long way to ending constipation. Activity encourages digestion and intestinal movement and helps relax the body for easier passing of stool.  

6. Do your kegel exercises

These pelvic floor exercises that your doctor has likely recommended you practice will not only help during delivery, but they also help keep your regular while pregnant too.

Is it safe to take stool softeners while pregnant?

Some doctors may recommend some stool softeners or laxatives to their patients, like milk of magnesia. Studies indicate there may be a risk for some laxatives and stool softeners, so it’s best to talk to your doctor first. Natural options like water, exercise, and fiber may be the simplest and most cost-effective way to limit your risk of constipation and ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need while pregnant.

When to see your doctor?

If you cannot clear a bout of constipation, you should consult with your doctor. Frequent diarrhea is also a warning sign that you should speak with your doctor, as dehydration becomes a significant concern if that symptom persists.

The best answer ultimately is that you should consult with your doctor if you have concerns about anything during your pregnancy. Any of the above home remedies to relieve constipation represent safe, natural, and cost-affordable ways to deal with a condition that is all too common during pregnancy. 

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