A lot of information has gone on about morning sickness, but almost no one talks about constipation in pregnancy – it’s not exactly a conversation starter!
It’s very real and common – affecting up to 40% of women in their first trimester. This is due to not only the hormonal changes, but the decreased fluid intake especially if mom has severe nausea and vomiting. Some anti-nausea medications can also worsen this, and that is why your doctor might recommend something to keep your bowels regular.
Increasing fluid intake is safe and inexpensive. Making sure you’re well hydrated will help with constipation.
Increasing fruit intake
This provides dietary fibres as well as hydration from the fruit juices. Also, easily available and make it your regular go-to-snack.
Increasing other dietary intake
Grains, vegetables, wholegrain breads etc will also help with moving the bowels along. The Increasing fibre intakes should be done slowly and keep well hydrated in doing so. If you’re not drinking much but having lots of fibres, it might make the constipation worse!
Not many know this – but keeping active with walks or some form of movements will help “kick start” those bowels! This is also why, after surgery we encourage patients to move as much (and safely!) as possible to help moving those bowels!
In some pregnant moms, all the above might still not provide relief and they may need some OTC or medications. Generally in pregnancy, we try and avoid stimulant laxatives and opt for bulk-forming agents – but because they work by absorbing fluid and making stool softer and easier to pass – you need to drink up too!
Also, don’t forget that you can have a chat with your midwife or doctor too!
Dr Adeline Chan is a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist in Sydney, serving the Western Sydney and Hills District area.