Common Discomforts During Pregnancy: Constipation

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Constipation is unfortunately pretty common during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know.

WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI

 

Constipation occurs when you have bowel movements that are irregular or difficult to pass. This is a common discomfort women experience later in their pregnancy.

 

According to consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Hong Sze Ching, SOG – SC Hong Clinic for Women at Mount Alvernia Hospital, constipation during pregnancy happens because of the presence of higher levels of the hormone progesterone. “It relaxes the gut muscles so food moves through the gastrointestinal tract more slowly,” he says, “As the womb expands, it can also put pressure on the rectum, which can worsen the problem.” If you are taking iron supplements during your pregnancy, that may cause constipation too.

 

 

An important note: if your constipation is accompanied by other symptoms

such as abdominal pain, passing mucus or bloody stool, 

or if it alternates with diarrhoea, it could be a sign of an underlying gastrointestinal disorder, 

in which case you should consult your doctor immediately.

 

 

What You Can Do

  • Consume a high-fibre diet (approximately 25 to 30 grams) by eating fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts.
  • Make sure you stay sufficiently hydrated by drinking eight glasses of liquids a day. “Fruit juices, such as prune juice, can help to move things along. You may try taking a glass of warm liquid in the morning as well,” suggests Dr Hong.
  • Stay active by exercising regularly – this can help stimulate the bowels. Dr Hong recommends exercising two to three times per week for 20 to 30 minutes. You can do moderate-intensity exercises while pregnant such as yoga and swimming.
  • If your constipation is caused by taking iron supplements, lower the dosage and consume more iron-rich foods instead.
  • If these measures don’t work, consult your doctor, who may prescribe stool softeners to relieve your constipation.
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