Experiencing a flutter or two in your stomach lately? Don’t be too quick to credit every little sensation to your baby kicking. Your expanding uterus and a surge in pregnancy hormones can make you feel bloated, constipated, and generally uncomfortable. Another not-so-pleasant pregnancy side effect is hemorrhoids, which can become more likely if you’re not passing stool regularly. To help you navigate these issues, here are some tips for dealing with constipation during pregnancy, as well as preventive measures to keep you as comfortable as possible.
Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy
Constipation during pregnancy can feel like a mystery. Even if you don’t eat foods that usually make you feel bloated and backed up, other things can cause constipation. Here are a few common things that can cause you to have trouble going to the bathroom.
High amounts of progesterone are one reason why pregnant women have trouble going to the bathroom. Dr. Sara Rabin-Havt, M.D., says, “This hormone causes the muscles in the bowel wall to relax, so they don’t make the contractions that help move things along. As your pregnancy goes on, your uterus gets bigger and presses down on your bowels, making it take longer for them to empty.”
The iron in your pregnancy vitamin or the iron supplement you may be taking for anemia could also be to blame. Clinical tests on iron supplements as a whole have shown that they can cause a number of digestive problems, including constipation. This could be because iron “feeds” bad germs in the large intestine, making you feel full and making it hard to go to the bathroom.
Taking iron supplements can also make the signs of morning sickness worse. If you feel full or sick, you might want to talk to your doctor about a different way to get iron.
Constipation can also be caused by giving up coffee, which keeps the bowels moving on their own. It may take some time for your body to adjust to the lack of caffeine if you were a regular coffee drinker before becoming pregnant.
Hydration and Fiber
It helps to stay regular if you drink a lot of water and eat a lot of vegetables. Research has shown that eating fruits and veggies high in fiber and drinking a lot of water can help build a healthy gut biome and keep you from getting constipated, even during pregnancy.
So, when does constipation start when a woman is pregnant? It might show up around the second or third month and stay until your baby is born.
How Constipation and Hemorrhoids Are Related
Just being pregnant makes it more likely that you will have swollen veins around your rectum. But, says Shari Brasner, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, trying to pass a stool that hurts can worsen hemorrhoids. This is serious because they can stay with you for life.
Constipation can cause hemorrhoids because you have to work to get your bowels to move. All that pushing and pulling can put pressure on veins and make them bulge. But don’t worry; you can avoid pregnant hemorrhoids by getting rid of constipation using the tips below.
How to Treat and Stop Constipation During Pregnancy
If you have trouble going, there are a few ways to get things started again. Here are some tips from Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, a book for pregnant women written by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
- Drink a lot of water, prune juice, or other fruit drinks, as well as other liquids.
- Eat foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain bread, and bran grains that are high in fiber. Try to get about 25 grams per day.
- Every day, you should walk or do some other safe exercise. Just walking around the block will help get things going.
- Experiment with spreading your daily meals out more.
- Ask your doctor about stool softeners or thickening agents like FiberCon, which adds fiber and water to your digestive system.
Here’s the good news: bowel problems don’t affect a pregnant person’s quality of life much. But at least you know you’re not the only one who has been spending more (or less) time than usual in the bathroom.
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