How to kick pregnancy constipation to the curb

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What goes on in the bathroom stays in the bathroom, which is why no one seems to talk about one of the least pleasant side effects of pregnancy – constipation. If you've just received a positive pregnancy test, you're most likely wondering why nothing's happening down there. Let's talk about why this happens and what you can do to get more comfortable.

The back story

Constipation is not a subject matter people clamor to discuss. It can be embarrassing, uncomfortable and downright frustrating. How do you know if you're suffering from it? You won't have a bowel movement for three or more days and they may be difficult to pass. Feeling alone in your misery? Well, don't. Constipation affects more than half of all pregnant women at some point during gestation.

Constipation and the accompanying discomfort and bloating are some of the first signs of early pregnancy. Due to those pesky pregnancy hormones – progesterone in particular – the muscles that move food along through your body seem to take a break. If you're dutiful about taking your vitamins, you should be getting an extra dose of iron, too. Iron has been known to cause constipation – making it all the more difficult for expectant moms to keep things moving smoothly.

What you can do

First, it's always a good idea to track and report any uncomfortable symptoms or side effects to your health care provider. He or she can help you adjust your diet and lifestyle to offer relief when you need it.

Your doctor or midwife will most likely make some of these recommendations:

  • Fiber: During pregnancy, women should consume between 25 and 30 micrograms of fiber. Foods that are rich in fiber include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and legumes.
  • Water: When you're expecting, you need an increase in water intake to provide for baby. More fluids keep things lubricated, which in turn, will help everything move more smoothly in the bathroom. Aim for 10-12 8-ounce cups of water each day.
  • Exercise: Gentle exercises such as walking or swimming help wake up your intestines by stimulating your bowels. Clear any new exercise routine with your doctor or midwife first.

The bottom line

Constipation is an uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy that more than half of all moms-to-be suffer through. With simple lifestyle changes and a chat with your health care provider, you can be on your way to feeling lighter soon.

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