Constipation is a common pregnancy symptom.
When you’re pregnant the hormone progesterone causes the muscles of your bowels to relax which means your digestive tract moves food and stools along more slowly.
On a positive note, this means your body has more time to absorb those important nutrients that you and your baby need during this time.
On a not so positive note, slower digestion means that slow, sluggish stools can become more harder (literally) to eliminate.
Furthermore, as your pregnancy progresses your growing uterus expands and puts more pressure on your bowels making constipation worse.
But there are lots of things you can do with your diet to get things moving.
Let’s go through them in this blog.
Eat more fibre rich foods
A pregnancy diet that is high in fibre will help fight constipation by softening your stools and speeding their passage through your bowel more quickly.
Include plenty of fibre rich foods in your diet each day such as wholegrain cereals, oats, brown rice, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
Ideally aim for 1 1/2 to 2 cups of vegetables at each of your main meals:
- Breakfast – cooked mushrooms, tomato, spinach, capsicum and zucchini
- Lunch – plenty of salad vegetables or a soup
- Dinner – a big side of steamed vegetables or salad.
In between meals snack on fresh fruit.
You’ll know that you are getting enough fibre when your stools are soft and large.
Make sure you aren’t getting too much fibre though as you’ll end up with diarrhoea and a loss of nutrients.
Drink lots of water
Drinking plenty of water each day will keep food moving efficiently through your digestive system.
Aim to drink about 8 glasses of pure water throughout the day.
If you’re out and about always have a water bottle with you so that you can sip on water to stay hydrated.
Remember that eating more fibre increases your requirement for water. Fibre needs water to help it expand and soften so eating a lot of fiber by itself without water can be constipating.
To make water more interesting you can add a dash of some freshly squeezed lemon, lime, fruit juice or use mineral water for some extra bubbles.
Include some friendly bacteria in your pregnancy diet
Include some beneficial bacteria for your digestive tract such as the acidophilus found in yoghurt to help stimulate your intestinal bacteria to break down food better and to help your digestive tract get things moving.
Don’t consume foods that are binding
Make sure you avoid foods that can cause constipation such as fried foods, refined baked goods, white bread, processed breakfast cereals, white rice and sugary or salty snack type foods.
Interestingly, bananas are the only fruit that are constipating, so make sure that you aren’t eating a lot of bananas which could be contributing to your constipation.
Iron pills and constipation
If you’re taking iron pills they could also be contributing to your constipation. Speak to your doctor about using another type of iron supplement that won’t impact your digestion.
If another iron supplement type doesn’t work, take a break from taking iron pills for a short amount of time to try and get things moving.
You might also want to check that your prenatal vitamin doesn’t contain too much iron.
Include more magnesium rich, constipation fighting foods in your pregnancy diet such as nuts, dried apricots, prunes, wheat germ, beans and leafy greens.
Check with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements.
Laxative and herbs
Don’t take over the counter laxatives or herbal or home remedies without checking with your doctor first.
If you’re sitting down all day or sedentary during pregnancy your body will be sluggish as well as your bowels.
To get things moving in your bowels, get moving! Head out for a brisk walk or do something active to help fight constipation with exercise.
Include some of the foods below in your pregnancy diet.
They are full of fibre, contain lots of water and a huge amount of beneficial nutrients for you and your baby.
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