Constipation During Pregnancy

Taking photos of your pregnancy belly, planning a baby gender reveal party, buying baby clothes - All very fun and exciting things about pregnancy, right? 

While there’s no arguing that there are going to be some memorable milestones along the way, there are also going to be some challenges. 

Constipation - A not-so-fun and exciting part of pregnancy. This is one of the many common discomforts that you may experience during your pregnancy. But don't worry, understanding the cause of your constipation, and ways to prevent it will help to make it better. 

As it is a common symptom that you may or may not feel, you’ll surely know if you’re going through it if you’re having trouble going number two -- Trust us, you’ll know. 

When Does Constipation Start?

Constipation tends to start during the first trimester (the first or second month) of pregnancy. It starts off this early because that’s when progesterone levels rise. You also run the risk of it getting worse further along your pregnancy. 

Causes of Constipation 

Generally, stress, anxiety, and minimal physical exercising can cause constipation during your pregnancy. It occurs due to the rising progesterone levels that relax the intestinal muscle that causes food and waste to pass slower through your digestive system. As a result, it increases water absorption from the bowel, causing constipation. 

Your uterus also plays a part in compressing your intestines and pushing your stomach upward. This is why constipation may get worse as your pregnancy progresses and your uterus is growing. 

If you’re taking iron tablets, this can be a contributor to constipation as well. If you are taking iron tablets, a way to help is to drink lots of water throughout the day. Something that may come as a surprise is that prenatal vitamins are full of iron, which means that they can cause constipation and hard stools. 

Symptoms of Constipation 

Constipation During Pregnancy

You’re going to feel the symptoms of constipation soon enough, but you may be wondering what it feels like in the meantime. 

One of the first signs that you are experiencing constipation is having bowel irregularity. If you’re used to going to the bathroom a number of times and then suddenly notice a decrease, that is a clear indication that you are suffering from constipation. 

You may experience some abdominal pain and discomfort which is a symptom of pregnancy on its own. It’s also very common for your feces to be dry or hardened. Not being able to pass stool can cause bloating in your abdomen as well. Attempting to use the bathroom can be uncomfortable and painful. 

How Can You Treat Constipation?

  • Drink lots of fluids: Drinking plenty of water can help keep the food passing along through your system. Try to double your water intake during your pregnancy to stay hydrated and help with constipation. You may also want to try hot water with lemon and prune juice!
  • Load up on the fibre: Foods that are rich in fibre can help eliminate waste, and it’s recommended that you aim for 25 to 35 grams a day. Look to whole grain cereals, bread, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables to help you out on this! 
  • When you need to go, go: Holding it in can weaken the muscles that control your bowels and can actually continue to cause constipation. Don’t resist the urge to visit the washroom and go whenever you need to.
  • Stay active: Minimal physical activity can be a contributor to constipation, so stay active. Having activity throughout your day regularly exercising will help pass your stool. Even fitting in a light walk will make all the difference. 

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