Constipation in pregnancy is particularly common and is experienced by almost all women. The main cause of constipation is increased progesterone levels, which starts to occur in early pregnancy. Progesterone can make some of your muscles more relaxed, including the muscles surrounding your colon – which unfortunately means that your body is less able to push food through your digestive system.
When you are pregnant, constipation treatments are a little restricted as it is desirable to avoid medication where possible, unless directed by a doctor. Accordingly, stimulant laxatives should be avoided and natural treatments used.
To help treat constipation while pregnant you can try to introduce more fiber into the diet. Fresh fruit, vegetables and grains may help but many pregnant women find that they need a richer source of fiber.
Natural psyllium husk powder is one of the best ways to obtain this fiber. Psyllium husks are the main ingredient in some over the counter laxative, but minus all the extra ingredients like fillers, flavors, colors and preservatives. They are a natural plant product and are generally considered safe for use in pregnancy. Of course, it is worthwhile to consult your health care professional about any supplements you include in your diet.
Psyllium husks in their pure, granulated form are readily available from health food shops and some drug stores, as well as a range of online stores. The recommended dosage is one teaspoon three times a day. It can be added to cereal or smoothies, stirred into a glass of water or juice and taken like a shot or even baked into a low fat muffin. You can also find psyllium in a capsule form which is a little easier to swallow. The husks work by bulking in the bowel and softening the stools. As it helps push blockages through the bowel the husks literally scrub the lining of waste and stubborn fecal matter.
In order for the psyllium husks to work it is essential that daily water intake is increased to at least two liters – although you should already be drinking this if you are pregnant, constipated or not. It is important to sip this throughout the day rather than drink in large quantities at a time as it will rehydrate rather better than flush straight through. That might be good for the kidneys, but not as beneficial for the bowels.
Pregnancy can be a worrying time, especially for first time mums in the first trimester as there are a myriad of symptoms that can range from light bleeding to cramping and vomiting. Sometimes the cramping and discomfort can be attributed to constipation, although if you have any concerns or the pain is sharp and in conjunction with bleeding then seek medical advice immediately.