Constipation in pregnancy, here are all the causes and remedies

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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Contents

  • 1 Constipation in pregnancy: how widespread it is
  • 2 Constipation in pregnancy and hormones
  • 3 Lifestyles that worsen constipation in pregnancy
  • 4 Symptoms of constipation in pregnancy
  • 5 Remedies for constipation in pregnancy
  • 6 Laxatives for constipation in pregnancy

For many future mothers, waiting for their baby is often less sweet due to a problem that creates discomfort and also not a little embarrassment: the difficulty in going to the bathroom. But maybe they can console themselves a little knowing that they are in… good company. In fact, constipation in pregnancy is a very widespread disorder. However, many women are also ashamed to talk about it with their gynecologist: it is a mistake because the doctor can suggest very effective solutions. Let's see some of them together.



Constipation in pregnancy: how widespread is it

Along with nausea, constipation is one of the most common pregnancy disorders. So much so that even the World Health Organization recognizes it: in its guidelines for a peaceful pregnancy, the WHO emphasizes the importance of countering this nuisance. Constipation in pregnancy can occur at any gestational period, there is no precise moment. Those who already suffered from it can see accentuated symptoms, but even those who have never had anything to do with them can experience this discomfort.

Constipation in pregnancy and hormones

The main cause of constipation in pregnancy is hormones. Those responsible are two, progesterone and aldosterone. The first causes constipation in the first weeks of pregnancy. There are several women who begin to accuse her very shortly after the positive test. The hormone has a myorelaxant action (i.e. it relaxes the muscles) which avoids contractions of the uterus. The problem is that it also acts on intestinal peristalsis, i.e. bowel movements that help evacuation. By decreasing the intensity of peristaltic contractions, progesterone causes dehydrated and compact stools, hence constipation. 



The situation becomes complicated approximately from the fourth month of pregnancy when the volume of the uterus increases to make room for the growing baby, but at the same time hinders the fecal transit because it presses on the intestine. During the third trimester, the levels of aldosterone increase, that is the hormone that causes more liquids and electrolytes to be absorbed, further slowing intestinal motility. This is why very often constipation can appear only at the end of the path, when perhaps you thought you were able to avoid it. 

Lifestyles that worsen constipation in pregnancy

Some factors worsen constipation in pregnancy: incorrect eating habits, low water consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight are some of these and are the first to intervene to try to improve the situation.

Symptoms of constipation in pregnancy

Constipation is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal swelling, pain, spasms. But not only. Straining to evacuate and hard stools can cause hemorrhoids to appear which, in turn, cause pain, itching or bleeding. However, there are specific supplements against hemorrhoids that can be taken safely even during pregnancy.

Remedies for constipation in pregnancy

So let's see what to do against constipation in pregnancy:

  • increase the intake of vegetable fibers: they are essential for intestinal motility. Whole grains should be preferred as they serve even more to guarantee intestinal regularity. So yes to cereals, fruit, vegetables, legumes (better to put them in water for a few hours before cooking them to prevent them from swelling).
  • Drink at least 2 liters of water a day: you can start in the morning with a glass of warm water on an empty stomach. It might be enough to stimulate evacuation.
  • Choose the right foods: better those with high water content (tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, lettuce, yellow squash, courgettes) or cellulose (radicchio, kiwi, plums and figs). Yes also to yogurt, preferably enriched with probiotics.
  • Avoid irritants: if you suffer from constipation during pregnancy you need to stay away from anything that can inflame the intestinal mucosa. In particular, spicy, spicy, very salty foods.
  • Exercise: among its many benefits, movement is also a panacea for the intestine because it facilitates peristalsis and therefore intestinal regularity. Ask the gynecologist which activities are most suitable.

Laxatives for constipation in pregnancy

Do not take independent initiatives regarding the intake of herbal teas, herbal mixtures and laxatives: they do not definitively resolve constipation in pregnancy and moreover must be taken in moderation and always under medical supervision. DIY is a very dangerous thing in any situation, let alone now. Some supplements against constipation, however, are specifically designed for this delicate period and the components are chosen to meet the needs of the expectant mother in a certainly non-aggressive way. But ask the gynecologist.



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