Constipation & Pregnancy
January 8, 2017
The foods we eat and our overall nutrition play a role in how our bodies digest food. But the hormonal changes that women experience during pregnancy can also affect digestion and create digestive problems. It’s estimated that nearly half of all women who become pregnant will experience constipation before delivery.
Common Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy
There are many causes of constipation during pregnancy. But most often medications and supplements, hormonal changes and lifestyle choices are the culprits.
- Poor Diet or Lack Exercise – An unbalanced diet, particularly one low in fiber, may cause issues with constipation. Dehydration or not drinking enough water is another cause. Plus, pregnant women with little or no physical activity are more likely to suffer from symptoms of constipation.
- Pregnancy Hormones – During pregnancy, women produce progesterone. This hormone causes the uterine lining to thicken and supports the environment necessary for the developing baby. Progesterone levels increase throughout pregnancy. They peak around 40 weeks and taper off after delivery. While progesterone helps keep a pregnancy viable, it can also relax the intestinal muscles. In turn, this slows down digestion and may lead to constipation.
- Iron Supplements – Because of the increased need for iron during pregnancy, doctors may recommend an iron supplement to help combat or prevent anemia. Many iron supplements are not well-tolerated in the gastrointestinal tract and may cause constipation.
Treatment & Prevention
Difficult or infrequent bowel movements can cause abdominal pain and discomfort. For women who are pregnant, the discomfort and irritation can be compounded by other pregnancy symptoms. Constipation may become more frequent or worsen as pregnancy progresses. Expecting mothers in the third trimester are battling ever-increasing progesterone levels. Plus weight gain from the growing baby may make exercise difficult as the delivery date nears.
Laxatives are commonly used to relieve constipation, but doctors do not typically recommend these for pregnant women. Laxatives can cause dehydration and uterine contractions. Instead, women who are pregnant should look to alternative treatments.
- Drink Plenty of Water – Aim to drink 10 to 12 ounces a day while pregnant.
- Eat a High-Fiber Diet – Incorporate breakfast cereal, vegetables, whole wheat and other foods that are high in fiber to consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily.
- Exercise Regularly – Light to moderate exercise during pregnancy helps speed digestion. Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week. But first talk to your doctor about exercising and the frequency that is right for your needs.
- Gentle Prenatal Vitamin with Iron – Prenate® Vitamin Family offers several prenatal vitamins that contain Sumalate®. This is a gentle, chelated form of iron. It is highly bioavailable. In fact, it is three times more absorbable than other forms of iron.1-3 The tolerability of Sumalate® in pregnancy is proven. Because it is less reactive with digestive tissues, the gastrointestinal (GI) side effects are minimal.3-6 The Prenate® dietary supplements that contain Sumalate® may be taken with or without food, including cereals, milk and coffee.
Prenatal Vitamins with Iron
Each of the following Prenate® products is taken once daily and contains Sumalate®, the GI gentle and highly absorbable form of chelated iron:
- Prenate Pixie®
- Prenate® Restore
- Prenate Mini®
- Prenate Star®
- Prenate® Enhance
Designed for the needs of both moms and babies, Prenate® Vitamin Family helps fill nutritional gaps. Talk to your doctor to see which prenatal vitamin with iron is right for you.