advice

managing constipation during pregnancy

As your baby bump grows and grows, your body is starting to change and adapt in many ways – with some of these changes being uncomfortable, achy and tiring! Many mums-to-be experience a bout or two of pregnancy constipation, caused by both progesterone, the pregnancy hormone, and the extra pressure your little one is putting on your rectum.

Thankfully, even when your body feels all bunged up, there are ways of easing your pregnancy constipation.

the best diet to prevent constipation in pregnancy

Including a lot of high-fibre goodies in your diet is a good place to start. Wholemeal bread, rice, pasta and cereals, pulses such as lentils and beans, and plenty of fruit and veg should get things moving. However, try introducing this increase in fibre gradually, as you don’t want to replace constipation with uncomfortable wind and bloating!

Drinking lots of water will also help, and you should cut down on caffeine and fizzy drinks. You could add some apricot or prune juice to your shopping list, as they contain a natural laxative called sorbitol. If you’ve been taking iron supplements, have a chat with your midwife or GP about some alternative remedies, as these can cause constipation.

exercises to prevent constipation

Regular exercise is a great aid for your digestion, and can help beat your pregnancy constipation. Make time for a gentle activity a few times per week, such as walking, swimming, or joining an aquanatal class.

You can also ask your midwife about local antenatal yoga classes. Yoga both stretches and tones the body, as well as teaching relaxation techniques to help you de-stress and unwind. Pregnancy pilates works to strengthen your tummy muscles, which makes them better able to expand for your growing baby – which in turn prevents constipation. If you’re looking to take up a new form of exercise during pregnancy, have a chat with your midwife first to make sure it's safe.

going to the loo when you’re constipated

If you do become constipated, the first rule is: if you need to go, just go! Ignoring the need to poo can cause or worsen constipation. Most of us need to pop for a number two either first thing in the morning or about half an hour after a meal.

Make sure you have the time and privacy to poo in comfort. Don’t rush – take a book or magazine to keep yourself relaxed and entertained! A squatting position is easier than a sitting position – try raising your feet slightly while you’re on the loo. Above all, don’t strain, as this could lead to...

complications of pregnancy constipation

Constipation is a usually a nuisance rather than a serious problem. However, if it persists, it can lead to piles and anal fissures.

Piles (or haemorrhoids) are swollen veins around the rectum which are itchy and painful, and can sometimes bleed. Piles are treated with creams (use a pregnancy-safe variety) and generally shrink back not long after the birth.

An anal fissure is a tear in the skin around the anus, caused by doing a large or hard poo. This can make going to the loo pretty painful. Again, creams are available – ask your midwife or pharmacist.

laxatives for pregnancy constipation

If natural ways of easing constipation aren’t working, you may consider trying a laxative: a medicine that gets your bowels moving again.

Speak to your doctor of midwife about this, as they can prescribe you a laxative that’s safe to use during pregnancy, or advise you about which over-the-counter ones are good for mums-to-be. There are several types of laxatives, and the “bulk-forming" variety is often recommended for pregnancy constipation. This works by bulking out your poo with fluid, making it easier for your bowels to push it out.

The main thing is to try and relax. Changing your diet and lifestyle can help to get things moving, and if there’s still no joy, have a chat with your midwife or GP.