Nutrition and constipation problems in pregnancy: what to do?

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Marie-Ange Demory
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Constipation in pregnancy

La constipation in pregnancy it is a disorder that afflicts a large number of expectant mothers at different times of gestation (it is estimated that about half of pregnant women suffer from constipation). Let's see what are the causes, how to prevent the problem, what to eat and what are the safest and most effective remedies.





Constipation in pregnancy in the first few weeks

Constipation is mainly caused by hormonal changes: the increase in progesterone that occurs right in the first weeks of gestation little affect the smooth muscle of the intestine. The progesterone in practice, it relaxes the muscles of the intestine and slows down its activity.



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Further on is the weight of the uterus which favors the onset of constipation.

In addition, the assumption of supplements of vitamins for pregnancy or alone iron contributes to constipation.

Symptoms

What is constipation and how does it manifest itself? In general, the main symptoms are:

  • abdominal pain;
  • difficulty in evacuation and intestinal irregularity;
  • hard stools.

We talk about constipation when it occurs less than three evacuations per week.

What to eat to prevent

Diet is of great importance during the nine months for a variety of reasons: it helps maintain a healthy weight, nourishes the mother and the fetus, nutrients are essential for correct fetal development and of course choosing foods carefully also means preventing annoying ailments such as constipation.

So what to eat when pregnant?

Daily nutrition must be rich in fibers, which promote and regularize intestinal transit: it is good to consume 20-30 grams of dietary fiber per day distributed between breakfast and meals. Foods that contain fiber are fiber-enriched breakfast cereals, plums, bran, oats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Also useful to eat it every day yogurt which contains lactic ferments and good bacteria that improve regular bowel function.

Among the fruit that should never be missing we mention the prunes (the classic do-it-yourself remedy for constipation which remains one of the most effective natural laxatives) and apricots which can also be eaten cooked in the morning.

Finally a piece of advice: take it regularly foods rich in iron helps prevent the insidious deficiency of this precious nutrient and avoid having to take iron supplements which are one of the main culprits of constipation in pregnancy.

Foods rich in iron are:

  • meat,
  • fish,
  • egg yolk,
  • legumes (especially lentils),
  • green leafy vegetables,
  • oil seeds and dried fruit.

Foods to avoid:

  • White bread;
  • rice;
  • banana;
  • fatty and fried foods.

Anti constipation foods:

  • Whole grains;
  • yogurt;
  • plums and apricots;
  • bran.

It is also very important beer enough: taking the right amount of water not only improves the action of the fibers but also serves to soften the stool. The right amount of water in pregnancy? At least two liters.

What to do?

Starting from the premise that the constipation in pregnancy is a very common disorder that can be caused by many factors closely related to pregnancy (hormonal changes, the weight of the uterus, iron supplementation), we can certainly try to prevent the onset of constipation or to keep it under control with changes to the our lifestyle:

  • do regular physical activity: in a physiological pregnancy that is going on without complications, there is no reason not to do some sport or just exercise. It is enough to walk every day, swim or do moderate physical exercise to help the intestine recover motility;
  • get the right amount of fiber every day;
  • beer at least two liters of water per day;
  • talk to your own medical health insurance who may reduce or change prescribed vitamin supplements;
  • take the right amount of foods containing iron to avoid a deficiency and consequently the intake of iron supplements (one of the main causes of constipation in pregnancy).
Read also: Nutritious foods in pregnancy

Remedies for constipation in pregnancy

First of all, the first thing to do when you suffer from constipation during pregnancy is to talk to your doctor: he will be able to make changes to the supplementation of iron and vitamins and suggest preferred foods or effective remedies. One of the most used remedies is the Metamucil which can help soften stool and promote evacuation.

Stool softening products or fiber supplements are not dangerous for the baby because their active ingredients are absorbed by the body only in a very small percentage. In any case, every remedy, even those based on natural substances, must be prescribed by the doctor.

Laxatives

Laxative pills are not recommended during pregnancy because they may stimulate uterine contractions and cause dehydration. Even mineral oils should not be used because they reduce the absorption of nutrients.

Constipation and abdominal pain

Constipation is often accompanied by hemorrhoids or abdominal pain caused by constipation and difficulty in evacuating. But pains can also be symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which includes alternating constipation a Diarrhea and abdominal pain among its main symptoms. What to do? During pregnancy, promoting evacuation with a change in lifestyle, diet and using natural remedies can certainly reduce abdominal pain and promote intestinal regularity.

Of course, when you are expecting a baby, any kind of abdominal pain is worrying and alarming. It is good to call the doctor if the pain is of dubious nature, does not subside after a while, if it occurs associated with fever, vomiting, nausea, vaginal bleeding.

It's dangerous?

The classic occasional constipation that occurs during pregnancy does not harm the baby. The main concern is the increased risk of vaginal infection caused in turn by bacterial contamination at the anogenital level: the retention of feces, in practice, increases the concentration and presence of bacteria that can cause a vaginal infection that must certainly be treated correctly to avoid complications or abortion.

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