Constipation in pregnancy is a major problem for many women.
What Causes Constipation in Pregnancy? When the stool becomes hard, it becomes difficult to empty. This leads to constipation.
What are Factors that cause the stool to become hard in pregnancy? -Pregnancy hormones (mainly progesterone) slows the movement of stool through the bowel -Physical size of the uterus slows stool movement through to the bowel -Decreased physical activity -Changed diet -Regular iron supplementation Aside from the short-term discomfort, constipation and straining in pregnancy increases the risk of long-term pelvic floor problems and conditions including: - Hemorrhoids - Prolapse and/or incontinence (bladder or bowel)
Emptying your bowel relieves constipation and promotes movement of stool through your bowels. If you’re constipated, your bowels become progressively backed up with hard stool. This leads to a viscious cycle, further worsening the constipation. How to Overcome Constipation in Pregnancy? Reducing constipation involves increasing the speed of movement of your stool through your bowel and emptying your bowel completely. Correct bowel emptying techniques and strategies help you overcome constipation without medication and reduce the risk of long-term pelvic floor problems on the future.
1.Correct Position for Bowel Emptying Sit on the toilet seat (never hover) Feet and knees positioned apart Back straight Lean forward and allow your baby and lower abdomen to relax forward
Take 4-5 relaxed deep breaths Make your waist wide by bracing and by saying the “S” sound (provides pushing power to empty your bowel and avoids straining through your pelvic floor) Bulge your baby and lower abdomen forwards saying the “OO” sound (opens your anal sphincter to allow the stool to pass) Lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles when complete 2. Diet for Constipation in Pregnancy Your diet plays a major role in improving movement of the stool through your bowel and keeping it soft. If you’re not already constipated, maintaining good dietary fibre intake can help keep your stool soft and well-formed. If you are already constipated, increasing your insoluble fibre intake (e.g. whole grains, vegetable peels and skins and fruit) can worsen constipation. This is because filling the bowel with indigestible material slows bowel movement and hardens the stool. Some women report abdominal bloating and flatulence when increasing fibre in the diet 3. Fluid Intake During Pregnancy Having a good fluid intake can maintain good movement of the stool through your body by softening the stool and reducing constipation. Try to keep well hydrated by drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day. 4. Physical Activity in Pregnancy Regular physical activity during pregnancy helps prevent constipation. Low impact exercises ideal for promoting bowel motility during pregnancy include: Walking Hiking (low to moderate difficulty) Stationary bike Dancing Rowing Swimming Water aerobics
5. Laxatives for Constipation During Pregnancy
If you’re already constipated you may find that the conservative (non pharmacological) strategies already outlined aren’t adequate to soften your stool. Speak with your obstetrician, midwife or physician regarding pharmacological strategies to manage constipation, which usually involve laxative medication.
The above advice provides a general idea about constipation during pregnancy. It is advisable to seek medical assistance on managing your condition. Harmony Physiotherapy, at the Harmony Health Centre are Experts in managing Women's and Pelvic health conditions. We will be able to appropriately assess and treat your constipation symptoms, in coordination with your obstetrician and physician to ensure the best possible outcomes. Book your appointment today with one of our Pelvic Physiotherapy Experts.