If you ask a mother, she will tell you that there are many “gifts” of pregnancy. One may talk about morning sickness, another may have had issues with swelling or back pain, and another may talk about having constipation.
The rates at which women experience these things vary, but constipation can happen to about 50% of all pregnant women. Constipation alone can cause so much discomfort during a woman’s pregnancy, that it merits it’s own blog post JUST to talk about how we resolve it!
With the causes of constipation including hormonal changes, reduced activity, stress, fiber deficient diet, iron supplements, and more, the good news is that there IS a lot that can be done to prevent as well as manage constipation.
In no particular order, I am going to share my 7 Ways To Combat Constipation.
1). Magnesium Citrate
Mag citrate is known in the functional nutrition world to be the most helpful form of magnesium to help with constipation. This variety helps to bring more water to the bowels which will help the body eliminate better.
Did you know that this nutrient is used in the body for over 300 processes? And that it is especially important for us when we are in a state of stress? Some experts speculate that as many as 60% of the population is deficient in magnesium.
Check with your naturopath for specifics on dosing of this supplement. I was instructed by mine that I would know that I had taken enough based on the quality of my stool. If things came out hard, I needed an additional capsule before bed when I took it. If things came out more runny, I may be taking more than I needed. I have found that this supplement is a MUST to bring with me on trips when I typically do get constipated.
2). Psyllium Husk
This is the main ingredient in Metamucil. It works by bulking the stool to help eliminate better. How much a person needs to take will vary, and a person should know within 1-2 days if it is working.
3). Drink Your Water
Hydration is obviously important to the body being able to function properly. Without sufficient hydration, we will feel more tired, sluggish, baby may be more stressed physically and we will also likely struggle with more constipation. Drinking at LEAST HALF our Body Weight and more is the goal for most all pregnant women. Once we get dehydrated, it may take several days for our fluids to become normalized once again.
You probably expected this one coming! The GI tract is highly sensitive to the movements of the body. Getting the body moving through daily walks, yoga, mild strength training, getting on all fours and belly breathing are all great options of movement that may help resolve constipation.
5). Use a Squatty Potty or Toilet Stool
If you haven’t tried a squatty potty yet, I’d highly recommend you do sooner than later. It can be a total game-changer for the body in its elimination goals as the stool helps a person to better align their bodies and not have to strain to empty. Not to mention that our body was designed to squat to the floor! Have you ordered one yet? You’ll need it postpartum too!
6). Make a Regular Toileting Schedule
The GI tract likes regularity in our daily habits and patterns. Especially if we commit to giving our body some time sitting on the toilet around the same time each day. And to add to that? The body has it’s best chance to empty the bowels within 30 minutes of our first meal, with warm food or drink being especially stimulating.
7). Deep Relaxing Belly Breaths While Sitting On The Toilet
The LAST thing we want to do when dealing with constipation or difficulty emptying our bowels is to HOLD our breath and try to forcefully bear down to empty. DON’T DO IT!
This could be devastating for your pelvic floor after doing this for many years. Straining to have a BM can literally cause pelvic organs to shift downward and prolapse to some extent.
Instead, commit to taking slow, meandering belly breaths while emptying our bowels. Accentuate the inhale just as much as the exhale… but DON’T hold your breath! The gut is also highly sensitive to belly breathing and this can expedite things MUCH faster than straining ANY DAY!
Hopefully, between staying hydrated, active, eating our fiber, and some of these other strategies, pregnancy without constipation can be a reality for YOU.
But there’s ONE more thing… it doesn’t magically go away as soon as we have our baby. If you deliver in the hospital, nurses will usually come visit with a couple of stool softener capsules for you to take and instruct you to keep taking this for a few days. WHY? Because our pelvic floor goes through an awful lot during childbirth and the LAST thing we want to be doing is straining this area to have a BM! Ligaments that support the pelvic organs are not yet ready for any kind of excessive downward pressure while they are still actively healing.
So my advice is to learn to manage your constipation BEFORE your due date so that you feel better DURING pregnancy as well as will already have it under control in the healing postpartum phase of this journey.
Have more questions? You can contact me here or schedule a free consult so we can make sure you are getting connected with the best resources and care possible.