Constipation is an accomplice of pregnancy. Even though there are many over the counter medicines to treat constipation, it is important to know what is safe to take for constipation while pregnant. If you are someone who would rather treat constipation during pregnancy with natural remedies, we hear you. This article helps you to find our 18 home remedies for constipation during pregnancy.
What Is Pregnancy Constipation?
Before we get to home remedies for constipation during pregnancy, we must understand what it really entails. You can always have a missed bowel for a day and that would not be constipation, in the true sense.If you are having less than three bowel movements a week, you are having pregnancy constipation.
According to a study, 75 % of expecting women experience constipation, ranging from minor to severe, at some point of their pregnancy journey. Most of the time, constipation will not adversely affect your pregnancy and can be easily tackled with some home remedies.
However, the consequences of severe constipation during pregnancy can hamper the smooth progression of pregnancy. Severe constipation increases the risk of developing piles, the last thing you want to get during pregnancy. Therefore it is important to tackle constipation as soon as it shows up.
When Does Constipation Start In Pregnancy?
As soon as the implantation happens the level of progesterone starts to increase. Many women experience a small episode of constipation before they miss their period. Constipation, even though many women fail to notice, is counted as one of the early signs of pregnancy.
Constipation starts to annoy the expecting mother around the second to the third month of pregnancy as progesterone levels significantly rise. Constipation worsens as pregnancy progresses.
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What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?
Several factors contribute to constipation during pregnancy. The surge of pregnancy hormones is the main factor that brings about constipation during pregnancy. The level of pregnancy hormone progesterone spikes as the pregnancy progresses.
The role of this hormone is to relax the muscles and ligaments to accommodate the growing baby. However, this process relaxes all the muscles and ligaments in the body, including muscle in the bowel wall.
These hormones, thus, slow down the bowel movements. The aim is to get more time for nutrient absorption for the development of the baby. However, this increases the risk of constipation.
The iron supplement the expecting women took during the pregnancy is another factor that increases the risk of constipation. Change in diet and reduced intake of food (due to morning sickness) and reduced intake of water also cause constipation during pregnancy.
As the pregnancy progresses, the growing uterus can put pressure on the bowel. This impedes the easy movement of stool through the intestine and causes constipation. That is why even the women who have never experienced constipation until then, start to experience it once they are progressing through their third trimester.
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18 Home Remedies For Constipation During Pregnancy
Constipation during pregnancy is common than you think, but most women do not talk about it because it can get embarrassing. Nevertheless, here are some home remedies to relieve constipation during pregnancy. Always consult your doctor if you feel nothing is helping and do not take OTC medicines during this phase of your life.
1. Increase the intake of water and have fiber-rich food
These two are fundamental factors to remember when you are experiencing constipation – pregnant or not. Practicing this helps you to keep constipation at bay. It is important to stay well hydrated throughout pregnancy for several reasons. And, combating constipation is one among them.
Water helps the food move smoothly through the digestive tract. It also softens the stools and helps with the bowel movement. Make sure you drink a minimum of 10 to 12 glasses of water.
Likewise, include fiber-rich food in your pregnancy diet. Fibers help to soften the stool and help with its easy way out. Target 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day.
2. Break up the daily food intake into smaller meals
Eating a large meal can overburden the digestive tract. This impedes digestion and the easy movement of food through the colon. Therefore, breaking up the frequency of food intake will be highly beneficial during pregnancy. It not only helps to relieve or reduce the risk of constipation during pregnancy but also to reduce the chances of bloating.
3. Stay physically active
Engaging in physical activities helps in preventing pregnancy constipation. Exercises encourage a bowel movement. Even though not possible every day, aim to exercise three days a week for 20 to 30 minutes each day.
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You can choose from a variety of physical activities like walking, swimming, yoga, low impact exercises, etc. However, it is important to get permission from your doctor before going ahead with any sorts of physical activities during pregnancy.
4. Massaging and reflexology
Gently massaging the stomach helps to relieve constipation during the early stages of the pregnancy. Massaging should be done in a clockwise direction. However never attempt this remedy if you are at risk of premature labor or having a low-lying placenta.
Reflexology is a natural remedy to relieve not only constipation but many ailments. It is based on a theory that different parts of your feet are connected to different parts of the entire body. It is the arch of the feet that should be massaged for relieving and avoiding constipation. According to reflexology, this part of the feet connected to the digestive system.
You can do this by yourself or ask someone in your family to gently massage the upper soles of your feet. As the pregnancy progresses, it will be hard for you to do it yourself. In that case, placing a water bottle under the sole of each foot and rolling the bottle back and forth gives you the effect of massage.
5. Pelvic floor relaxation
Relaxing pelvic floor muscles while passing stool might help to relieve pregnancy constipation. For this, you have to get into a squat position rather than the seated position. Take a footstool to the toilet. When you need to poop, keep your feet on the stool.
Make sure your knees above your hip level. This is a perfect position to pass stool without much effort. Now inhale deeply and relax the pelvic muscle when you exhale. Never strain yourself as you can risk hemorrhoids.
6. Drink lemon in warm water
Lemon helps to avoid and relieve constipation during pregnancy. They are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. Lemons help in flushing toxins and undigested food and also help to induce bowel contractions and ease the stool passage.
Hot water or beverages helps to relieve constipation. Therefore, adding lemon juice of one or half a lemon to some warm water and having it twice a day may give fast relief from constipation during pregnancy.
Related Reading: Can Lemon Water During Pregnancy Cause Abortion?
7. Drink prune juice
Prunes are loaded with fiber. Sorbitol, the key component of prunes has strong laxative properties. Therefore, prunes are considered as one of the important home remedies for immediate constipation relief during pregnancy.
Have prune juice around three to five times daily. If the taste ti too strong for you no issues in diluting it with water and enhancing the taste with a dash of lemon. You can also eat prunes instead of prune juice.
8. Flax seeds – home remedies for constipation during pregnancy
Flax seeds are loaded with dietary fiber and Omega-3s. The laxative property of flax seeds makes them a natural remedy for constipation. Half to two tablespoons of flax seeds once a day helps to combat constipation. Start with a half teaspoon and depending on the result eventually increases the quantity up to two tablespoons.
Another important point to note is that you need to increase the intake of water considerably while having flax seeds. Also, too many flax seeds are not safe during pregnancy. Therefore consider it as a short-term remedy rather than a practice.
9. Yoghurt for constipation during pregnancy
Studies show that adding 300 grams of yogurt to your daily menu improves the annoying symptoms of pregnancy constipation. Yogurt is rich in probiotics. Probiotics help with digestion by changing the microbiota in the colon.
Make it a practice of consuming one cup of plain yogurt once a day throughout your pregnancy.
10. Ispaghula husk (psyllium)
Ispaghula husk aka Psyllium husk is a fiber supplement used to combat constipation. When mixed with water it works as an excellent laxative. By softening the stool not only provides fast relief from constipation also helps to alleviate stomach discomfort caused by constipation.
Depending on the severity of constipation you can have it twice daily. Just add one packet of Ispaghula husk granules to a glass of cold water. Mix well and drink this without delay. If you choose this remedy, it is mandatory to drink a minimum of 10 glasses of water every day.
However, it has several side effects and therefore, it should be used only after consulting with a doctor. Also, never opt for this remedy if you have any cardiac issues or hypertension.
11. Include Dalia in your pregnancy diet
Dalia/cracked wheat is a superfood as far as pregnancy is considered. It is loaded with nutrients highly beneficial for mother and child. It is also loaded with fiber, magnesium, proteins, and important vitamins that help to get rid of constipation.
12. Citrus fruits
Eating citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits can potentially combat constipation during pregnancy. It is loaded with vitamin C and high fiber content. Consuming two citrus fruits daily (one in the morning and one in the evening) helps to increase stool frequency and fight off constipation. Eating them without peeling off the white threads increases the effect.
13. Apple juice
Apples have pectin, a fiber found in fruits. This natural fiber improves bowel movements. Therefore, consuming apple juice daily helps in fighting off constipation. To make juice, slice an apple into small pieces, and with a cup of warm water blend it well in a blender.
14. Pear juice
Pear juice is loaded with vitamin C and contains four times more sorbitol than apple juice. Even though it is not as nutritious as apple, it is more effective in combating constipation during pregnancy.
15. Milk and ghee
According to Ayurveda, consuming one or two teaspoons of ghee in a cup of hot milk at bedtime naturally improves the bowel movement the next morning and therefore is excellent for relieving constipation
16. Increase the intake of banana
Increase the intake of bananas during pregnancy. Bananas are loaded with fiber. Eating bananas during pregnancy helps to regularize the bowel movement and facilitate easy passage of stool. Eat one or two bananas during bedtime. It will enhance the bowel movements in the following morning
17. Eat leafy vegetables
Adding green leafy vegetables like spinach (palak), lettuce, fenugreek (methi) to your daily menu helps to keep constipation at bay. Leafy vegetables are extremely rich in dietary fiber. This makes it an excellent natural remedy to fight off constipation.
Mix 100 ml of spinach juice with an equal quantity of water and have it twice daily. This home remedy helps to cure even the most severe constipation.
18. Eat figs
Figs are loaded with nutrients and are one of the most recommended fruits to eat during pregnancy. Both dry and ripe figs are equally beneficial for combating constipation during pregnancy. Loaded with fiber, figs are excellent natural laxatives.
Boil a few figs in a glass of milk. For fast relief from constipation during pregnancy drink this warm mixture at night before bed. Use a whole fruit for this purpose rather than syrup for the desired result.
Is It Safe To Take Medicines For Constipation During Pregnancy?
When the home remedies and measures like physical activities are not working, medications are the second line of therapy. However, it should be under the instruction of your doctor.
NEVER OPT FOR OTC medicines for anything when pregnant.
Medications for constipation involve laxative and stool softeners. Even though it is generally safe to use gentle laxatives during pregnancy, stimulant laxatives should be completely avoided as they can potentially induce uterine contraction. However, pregnant women can use stool softeners to combat constipation ion after consulting your doctor.