I remember one of my secondary school teachers saying: ‘if anyone told teenagers all the symptoms of pregnancy, that would be far more effective than sex education!’ Whether you agree or not, she was right that there are plenty of symptoms during pregnancy that we would rather not have to deal with. Constipation is one of them – and the piles which may result from it. Find out how to relieve constipation in pregnancy with these tips.
So what can we do about constipation? Is it just a case of getting on with it? Thankfully no, there are lots of things which can be done to reduce constipation in pregnancy. Here are five areas to consider when thinking about how to relieve constipation in pregnancy.
Constipation relief in pregnancy
In pregnancy it is recommended that you drink 300ml more than you would normally be recommended to drink as an adult female. Do you know how much that is? It’s 1600ml – so, in pregnancy we are encouraged to drink 1900ml.
That’s almost two litres – more if you are sweating lots, it’s hot or you are doing exercise. Small sips throughout the day are the best way to go. If you aren’t sure if you are drinking enough water, check your wee is pale yellow. Hydration is also good for reducing other pregnancy symptoms like headaches too!
Sitting down to eat
Our bodies naturally get ready to do a poo when we eat, especially in the morning. However we can override that need and then the longer that poo sits in our bowels, the more water is reabsorbed and the harder the poo gets.
So, sit down when you eat, eat slowly and if you feel the need to go to the toilet, don’t put it off. When you are on the toilet, make sure your feet are on the ground or, if you are constipated raise your knees higher than your hips using a foot stool. This will help you pass the stool. Don’t strain.
Having plenty of veggies
Fruit and vegetables contain fibre so they help reduce constipation. Having at least five portions a day is also great for vitamins and minerals. They can be fresh, frozen, dried or canned (in juice). A portion is 80g or a handful, and we want five different types a day. Snacking on vegetable sticks is a great way to get some extra veg in and can help with those feelings of nausea as having an empty stomach can make that worse.
Smoothies and juices are lovely, but no matter how much you drink, they only count as one portion because you break down some of the fibre in the juicing/blending process. So, the cheaper and better option is a whole fruit or veg. If you are struggling to cope with eating fruit or veg though, a 150ml portion of juice or smoothie a day is a good way of getting some added micronutrients.
Pulses are lentils, beans and peas. They are high in fibre. If you aren’t too keen, try adding them to meat based meals – for example, a handful of red lentils in with your bolognese or a tin of green lentils in with your chilli or soup. They are also great in salads.
A portion is about 100g. Baked beans are a good source of fibre and are a quick and easy option if you are too tired to cook. Mix a tin of baked beans with another variety of beans to get a wider range of nutrients and reduce the salt and sugar per 100g – you will find you still have enough sauce.
Switch to wholegrains
Wholegrains are the brown versions of white carbs such as brown pasta, oats, quinoa, and brown or wild rice. They are also great for slowing down how quickly sugars are released into the blood stream, keeping us fuller for longer. If you aren’t sure, try mixing the two together, for example half wholegrain pasta and half regular pasta.
If you are already constipated, some people find prunes, prune juice and pears helpful. You may also need to have some medication to get you going again. It’s also possible other medication you are, such as iron tablets, are causing constipation so your GP can review that. If you are constipated, speak to your midwife or GP for more support.
For additional one to one support around your diet and pregnancy, book a consultation.
The advice in this article is meant for information only and not designed to provide individualised advice. Please speak to your health professional for more information.