Among the various pregnancy symptoms to experience, constipation ranks at the top for many women. Why is that? Because during pregnancy, there’s an inevitable spike of the progesterone hormone, which relaxes intestinal muscles and slows down digestion. This hormonal surge can also make you feel bloated and gassy (sexy, right?). What’s more, your baby puts pressure on your rectum, and you can get dehydrated a lot more easily, which can make it harder for food to pass your digestive system.
Though constipation goes away after pregnancy, you may want to get relief before then. Constipation can lead you to forcefully push during a bowel movement, which can then lead to hemorrhoids. Don’t worry though. A few changes in your diet and daily activities can make it all smoother.
Here are 5 tips to help you boost bowel motility and alleviate discomfort associated with pregnancy constipation.
1. Drink water — lots of it. We know, we know… We keep telling you to drink more water, but hydration is really a “heal-all.” Being dehydrated, your large intestine soak up all the water from your food waste, which makes it more difficult to pass through your digestive tract. Drinking a lot of water will soften food waste and promote healthy, easy bowel movement. To make sure you remember to drink enough fluids, keep a reusable bottle with you at all times. Try drinking at least 12 8-oz glasses of water daily. Want to “eat your water”? Watermelons and cucumbers are both great H2O fixes.
2. Keep moving. Working out is a great way to stimulate a gastrocolic response, which controls motility and encourages digestion. Assuming you’re pregnancy is moving along and you get the green light from your doctor, you should continue your exercise regimen and even consider incorporating a yoga practice. There are many yoga postures that help alleviate constipation and that are safe during pregnancy.
3. Eat fiber at every meal. Foods that are rich in fibers can help you hold on to water. This, in turn, makes waste smoother and more easily passed through the intestine. Fibers can also add bulk to your decal material, which can then speed up the flow as it passes through your guts. Fiber-rich foods include legumes, prunes, oats, leafy green vegetables like kale, and flaxseed.
4. Consider liquid iron. Iron supplement, which you can find in your prenatal vitamins, has been known to constipate. Though there’s not real scientific evidence that liquid iron supplements alleviate constipation, many women have reported an improvement after making the switch. So if you believe in anecdotal evidence and want to try and alleviate some of the discomfort from constipation, give liquid iron supplements like Floradix a try. Before making any decision, talk to your doctor.
5. Put a lemon in your hot drinks. Sorry, mamas. We aren’t talking about your daily cup of Joe here, but herbal teas that are safe for pregnancy and that can also promote digestive health. Alternative, you can opt for hot water and honey. Add a little lemon juice — a natural laxative — to your warm and soothing beverage. With its high acids content, lemon juice can work magic on the digestive system. It works best to drink your lemon-y beverage in the morning, on an empty stomach. Hopefully, this coupled with your daily activity will help move things along.