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Constipation During Pregnancy

How to Get Pregnant

Constipation at any time can be quite uncomfortable, but constipation during pregnancy is even more so, and is a common problem. Constipation occurs during pregnancy in about 50% of all women, especially in the later stages. Although constipation during pregnancy is seldom serious, it could be a symptom of another problem. It's important to know what is normal, and what is not.

Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy

One suspected culprit is an increase in the hormone progesterone. Progesterone slows the progression of food through the digestive tract, and is worsened by the pressure of the growing uterus on the rectum. Worry and anxiety can increase the chances of becoming constipated during pregnancy. Another common culprit is iron supplements, which can worsen constipation. A physician should always be contacted before changing or removing iron supplements from your diet, as low iron can cause anemia.

How to Avoid and Treat Constipation During Pregnancy

There are several things a woman can do to reduce her chances of becoming constipated, including eating a high-fiber diet, which includes cereals, whole-grain breads, and fresh vegetables and fruits, on a daily basis. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily, along with 2-4 glasses of other healthy fluids. With approval from your physician, do yoga or exercise regularly, 20-30 minutes three times per week. For those already experiencing constipation, drinking a glass of fruit juice, especially prune juice, can help. Fiber supplements can be taken with approval from your doctor.

When Constipation During Pregnancy Can Be a More Serious Problem

Severe constipation during pregnancy that's accompanied by abdominal pain, alternates with diarrhea, and mucus or blood is passed, could be the sign of something more serious. Also, a woman can get hemorrhoids when constipated, especially while pregnant. This can be the cause of great discomfort. A woman should contact her health care provider immediately if she experiences any of these symptoms so they can be evaluated. The physician can also advise if hemorrhoid creams can help to eliminate the pain and swelling.

Constipation Can Encourage Hemorrhoids

Constipation during pregnancy can increase the chances of getting hemorrhoids because women tend to strain more when trying to eliminate, or have unusually hard stools. Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins in the rectal area, and can be both inside and outside the rectum, leading to great discomfort. If you experience severe pain or rectal bleeding, call your health care provider to be evaluated. Remember, never delay if you feel the urge to eliminate. Be comforted in the fact that hemorrhoids usually disappear shortly after delivery.

Constipation during pregnancy is seldom anything to worry about but is certainly a cause of discomfort. A woman should try her best to avoid becoming constipated by following the above tips. Remember that laxative pills and mineral oils should never be used during pregnancy because they may cause dehydration, stimulate uterine contractions, and reduce nutrient absorption.