When does Constipation occur during pregnancy?

Pregnancy related hormones trigger the smooth muscles of intestine causing them to soften in the first trimester, so it is possible to start experiencing constipation as early as the first trimester. Though, it is most common to experience constipation later in pregnancy during the second trimester or in the third trimester.

How frequently does constipation occur during pregnancy?

About 50% of women experience constipation during pregnancy. Don't be surprised if you experience some changes in the way you experience your bowel movements.

What causes constipation during pregnancy..

Constipation is caused by a combination of several factors. Rapid shift in the hormones causes the intestinal smooth muscle to soften and slows down the speed with which bowels are passed. In addition, the slowed transit time of the food also allows for more than normal water to be reabsorbed. There are also some who believe that the expanding uterus crowds the intestinal tract, increasing the probability of constipation. Following are some common reasons for constipation to occur during pregnancy -

  • In the first trimester it is caused by progesterone that slows down intestinal activity

  • In the later part of pregnancy, pressure of the uterus on your intestines and rectum makes your system sluggish

  • Iron supplement that are required for anemia has a constipating effect.

  • Stress and tension contribute to constipation

  • You are more susceptible to constipation if you had this problem in pre pregnancy days

  • You lead a sedentary lifestyle

How can you tell you are constipated?

  • If you don't have bowel movements for several days in between

  • If you feel bloated, uneasy and fart in excess

  • If the stool is hard and difficult to excrete

  • If you feel that you have not emptied your bowels totally

  • If you see blood in your stools.

What you should do and not do when constipated during pregnancy

  • Drink minimum 8 glasses of water per day; start off the mornings with warm water if you are comfortable with it and don't find it nauseating.

  • Drink plenty of fruit juices, especially prune juice. Eat dried fruits, prunes, figs as well as apricots in particular

  • Abdominal massage is not advisable and a strict no-no during pregnancy

  • Avoid empty calorie foods like jelly, cakes, and ice-cream; also minimize caffeine and fizzy beverages

  • Start your mornings in a relaxed manner if possible with a warm beverage or water whichever you are comfortable with

  • Get plenty of exercises; walking and swimming are safe and proper during pregnancy unless advised otherwise by your doctor

  • Get enough fiber from foods like fruits and vegetables, cereals (oats and bran). Ensure you drink enough water else the bran will aggravate constipation. Remember the more fiber you ingest the more fluids you will require to drink

  • Eat fresh, healthy and lightly cooked foods; vegetables, fruits, and high fiber cereals. As far as possible, avoid processed and pre-cooked, instant meals

  • Don't take laxatives without your doctor's permission; some laxatives can cause painful contractions of the bowel which can have repercussions on the uterus
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