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Constipation While Pregnant

Experiencing constipation while pregnant can be quite a discomfort.  A woman generally experiences a wide range of emotional and physical changes at the time of pregnancy. There are a number of discomforts that an expectant mother may need to endure before the birth of the child. One of such discomforts is constipation during pregnancy. It is a common problem during pregnancy and almost all the women who become pregnant experience this discomfort during pregnancy.

Constipation is a condition, when the affected individual has problems in the passing of fecal material or stools. It is condition that can affect people belonging to all age groups, but constipation during pregnancy is a fairly common phenomenon. There are a number of factors that contributes to the development of constipation during pregnancy.

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Symptoms of constipation during pregnancy

Some of the signs and symptoms of constipation during pregnancy are as follows:

  • There may be a time period of more than 4 days between two bowel movements
  • The affected woman may experience sensations of incomplete bowel movement
  • The feces are usually quite hard, which makes for problematic elimination
  • The presence of extremely hard feces may result in rectal bleeding
  • In very rare cases, constipation during pregnancy can cause problems in giving birth
  • Pain in the lower abdomen may be experienced by a pregnant constipated woman

These symptoms generally do not indicate the presence of any serious disorder other than constipation during pregnancy. However, it is best to consult a doctor in case a pregnant  woman is worried about the symptoms.

The condition of constipation during pregnancy is generally not harmful, but can result in a lot of discomfort. A few of the complications that may result from constipation during pregnancy include:

  • An extreme case of constipation can result in the development hemorrhoids, also known as piles, which can cause the veins present in the anal muscles to swell up, eventually leading to bleeding as well as great pain.
  • There may be sensation of bloating of the stomach which can result in increased irritation

There are no long term effects of constipation during pregnancy and most of the accompanying symptoms disappear after birth of the baby. However, as constipation during pregnancy can be very distressing, one can take a number of precautionary measures to prevent the condition as well as the complications.

Causes of constipation during pregnancy

  • The body of a woman secretes high levels of the hormone, progesterone during pregnancy, which in turn decreases the speed of digestion of food. This is one of the primary causes of constipation during pregnancy.

Some of the other causes of constipation during pregnancy include:

  • A few women are advised by the doctor to consume calcium or iron supplements at the time of pregnancy. However, this can result in constipation during pregnancy.
  • The lower intestines are subjected to increased pressure during the last stages of the 3rd trimester of the gestation period by the continuously growing uterus. This increases the risk to developing constipation during pregnancy
  • Bad eating habits and lack of exercise can also result in constipation during pregnancy
  • Indulging in full bed rest due to presence of underlying medical conditions can also cause constipation during pregnancy

Treatment of constipation during pregnancy

  • Most cases of constipation during pregnancy are generally caused by intake of a diet that lacks fiber and other essential nutrients. Hence, a pregnant woman can avoid the condition by consuming a diet comprising of fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals, etc. which are rich in fiber. The consumption of certain fibrous supplements such as psyllium powder, Citrucel  or Metamucil may also be suggested by some doctors.
  • Engaging in mild exercises such as walking and swimming on a daily basis, can also aid in the alleviation of the symptoms of constipation during pregnancy. Regular exercising for about 20 to 30 minutes per day helps the process of food digestion, which in turn facilitates the easy elimination of stools.
  • In addition to the above, it is also important for pregnancy women to consume plenty of water and a minimum of at least eight glasses of water per day. Pregnant women are also advised to drink juices, particularly prune juice. Various beverages that contain caffeine and alcohol should be completely avoided.
  • There are a number of laxatives that can be used by pregnant women to soften the stools so as to solve the problem of constipation during pregnancy. However, it is essential to note that intake of laxatives can be dangerous for the health of the unborn child. It can also result in contractions of the uterus, acceleration of labor pains as well as dehydration. Hence, a doctor must be always consulted before taking any laxatives.
  • Constipation during pregnancy can also be caused when pregnant women avoid going to the bathroom due to various reasons and thus without the elimination of fecal material. Hence, it is important for pregnant women to fully avoid withholding the bowel movements
  • Intake of iron or calcium supplements in small amounts can also decrease the risk of constipation during pregnancy.

 

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