Pregnancy can come with a whole litany of unpleasant side effects, but constipation might be one of the worst. The gas, bloating, and constant pressure, coupled with the inability to release the Kraken… It’s enough to drive anyone into a desperate Google search for constipation remedies. Even from your work computer. During a meeting. With your boss.
Aside from being uncomfortable as hell, without treatment constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or fecal impaction – the remaining three horseman of the pregnancy-induced poopocalypse.
Pregnancy Constipation Causes
There are a lot of reasons why you may be finding yourself in this predicament, but typically, constipation during pregnancy is a result of any combination of the following:
Pregnancy hormones, like progesterone, are critical to maintaining a healthy pregnancy, but can also have some less-than magical side effects. Like slowing down your digestive system. With your poop tubes on island time, food sticks around a lot longer, and makes it harder (literally) to get it from point A to point Butthole.
Your Ever-Expanding Uterus
Yep, the bigger that puppy gets, the more it pushes down on your bowels, making it difficult for business to operate as usual.
Calcium and Iron are known offenders when it comes to clogging the pipes, and are both found in your prenatal vitamin. With that said, they are also critical components for baby building, so don’t stop taking it in an attempt to move things along, without first consulting a human doctor (not Dr. Google).
A diet that is low in fiber, and high in processed cereals and grains may appease your cravings for donuts, but isn’t doing you any favors in the mobility department. Add to that not drinking enough water, and you’ve got a recipe for rectal disaster.
OF COURSE STRESS MADE IT ON THIS LIST! STRESS IS ON EVERY LIST! WHAT IS THERE TO BE STRESSED ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE GETTING READY TO POP A RACCOON-SIZED HUMAN OUT OF A KUMQUAT?!
But fear not, my fair lass. There are some simple things you can do to take control of this fecal freak show, hopefully before you have to Google anal fissures.
So how do you fix it?
Fiber is your friend, and can show up in some unexpected places, like air-popped popcorn, and even kiwis, which pack a surprising punch of 2.1 grams of fiber per fruit. Beans, leafy greens, and of course the old stand-by, prunes, are also all good options. The key here is to ease into your new fiber-rich diet, so you don’t exchange one miserable condition (constipation) for another (earth-shaking, room-clearing gas).
You don’t need to bust out your old Tae Bo tapes, but getting moving, especially after eating, is a good way to kick your digestive track into high gear. Doing something as simple as going for a walk, or chasing your toddler around after dinner trying to wipe crap off their face can help move things along.
Drink. Water. Did you really think you’d read an article about a pregnancy ailment that DIDN’T suggest you up your water intake? Sometimes it seems like an easy out, but in this case it makes a ton of sense because the longer stool hangs around in the colon, the more water is absorbed, and the harder it gets. More water = softer stools.
Go if you feel the urge
Look, nobody likes taking an epic shit in a public bathroom, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. Holding it in can make it worse.
One important note: Do not take medications (like laxatives or mineral oil) while pregnant, unless prescribed by a doctor. They can have some unwanted side effects, like uterine contractions and dehydration, which you are going to want to stay away from.
Constipation during pregnancy (or anytime, for that matter) is a real buzzkill, but changing a few simple things can make a world of difference in the defecation department.