This pregnancy symptom may affect some women, often beginning during the first trimester and getting worse towards delivery. Not every pregnant woman experiences constipation, while others notice it to some degree or another.
Pregnancy hormones play a big role in causing this symptom, along with the added pressure your enlarging uterus places on your bowels in the last half of pregnancy.
Constipation may also be brought on by things other than pregnancy including not eating enough fiber-rich foods and not getting enough fluids, especially water and fruit juice.
The Role of Pregnancy Hormones
Pregnancy is accompanied by a surge in hormones, and these hormonal changes can play a significant role in the development of constipation. Progesterone, in particular, tends to relax the muscles in the digestive tract, slowing down the movement of food through the intestines. This can lead to a slower and less efficient digestive process, contributing to constipation.
As pregnancy progresses, the growing uterus exerts pressure on various organs, including the bowels. This added pressure can further impede the normal functioning of the digestive system, making constipation more likely.
Other Contributing Factors
While pregnancy hormones and physical changes are major contributors to constipation during pregnancy, other factors can also come into play:
Dietary Choices: Not consuming enough fiber-rich foods can contribute to constipation. A diet lacking in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may increase the likelihood of this symptom.
Fluid Intake: Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for preventing constipation. Pregnant women should ensure they are drinking enough fluids, particularly water and fruit juice.
Managing Constipation During Pregnancy
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage and potentially prevent constipation during pregnancy:
Incorporate plenty of fiber-rich foods into your daily meals, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These foods promote healthy digestion.
Stay well-hydrated by drinking ample water and consuming fruit juices. Proper hydration supports regular bowel movements.
Engage in regular physical activity, as exercise can stimulate the digestive system and help alleviate constipation.
When using the toilet, consider using a stool or footrest to elevate your knees. This position can make it easier to have bowel movements.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend fiber supplements to ensure you are getting enough dietary fiber.