What to do with constipation during pregnancy?
Constipation during pregnancy is a slow or difficult bowel movement.
In a healthy person, defecation normally occurs from 3 times a day to 3 times a week. Delayed stools can be considered constipation if it:
- occurs less frequently than every 24 hours;
- leaves a feeling of incomplete bowel movement.
People of any age and lifestyle are subject to constipation. However, there are conditions in which the risk of developing impaired defecation increases. One of these is pregnancy. Doctors gynecologists consider constipation as the inevitable companion of any expectant mother.
Disorders of bowel movements in pregnant women can manifest the following symptoms:
- the sensation of pressure, distention in the rectum;
- rumbling, a sense of “transfusion” along the intestine;
- increased gas formation, bloating ;
- pains in the sacrum, buttocks;
- the feeling of weakness, malaise, loss of appetite, unpleasant taste in the mouth, bloom on the tongue, nausea, headache, nervousness.
Causes of constipation during pregnancy
Changes in the body of a woman during pregnancy can lead to violations of the proper functioning of the intestine. These include:
- Hormone progesterone
Progesterone is the main pregnancy hormone. One of its biological actions is the relaxation of smooth muscles of internal organs. This is necessary in order to reduce the tone of the uterus and prevent the threat of miscarriage. Since the intestinal wall also consists of smooth muscle fibers, its activity decreases under the influence of the hormone.
- Uterine pressure on intestines
The growing uterus pushes back the intestines posteriorly and upward. This leads to a slower holding of its contents in the direction of the anus
- Low physical activity
The work of the intestine and the act of defecation are closely related to the state of the abdominal muscles and perineum. Sitting work, bed rest with the threat of miscarriage, stretching the anterior abdominal wall of the growing uterus, refusal of physical activity due to fear of damaging the future baby lead to a decrease in the motility of the digestive organs.
- Errors in the diet, low water intake
The best intestinal stimulant is dietary fiber. Their source is vegetables, fruits, bran, some cereals (buckwheat, oats ). Unfortunately, in big cities, most expectant mothers lack these products.
In order for the intestinal contents to have the desired consistency and to be easily transported in the direction of the anus, at least 1.5-2 liters of water should be consumed daily. This factor plays an important role in the development of constipation in pregnant women, to whom the attending physician has restricted the drinking regimen due to high blood pressure, kidney disease or edema.
- Impact of stress
The work of the intestine, as the whole body, is regulated by the nervous system. When her work fails, her digestive organs begin to shrink erratically. There is so-called spastic constipation. Clinically, this is manifested by severe abdominal pain, colic, and the stool takes on the characteristic “sheep droppings” appearance. Very often during pregnancy, there is excessive excitability of the nervous system, which can lead to impaired bowel movements.
- Some drugs: calcium and iron
Pregnant women taking iron or calcium supplements often have constipation. Forms of iron in the form of injections do not affect intestinal motility.
- Diseases of the anal area (fissure, hemorrhoids )
The compression of the veins of the abdominal cavity growing uterus, sedentary image leads to stagnation in the pelvis. This contributes to the expansion of the venous plexus around the anus and the occurrence of hemorrhoids. One of its symptoms is pain during defecation. It can be so strong that women subconsciously postpone trips to the toilet, in order not to experience unpleasant sensations.
What is dangerous constipation during pregnancy?
Constipation has on the body of the future mother two types of effects:
- Local impact
Impaired motility leads to stagnation of the contents in the intestinal lumen. Digestive gruel, rich in nutrients, is an ideal environment for the development of microorganisms, which normally inhabit the human digestive tract. This can lead to inflammation of the upper parts of the large intestine – the appendix, the sigmoid colon. Constant injury of the rectal wall and tissues of the anus by solid stool masses can cause the development of proctitis, anal fissures, inflammation of hemorrhoids.
- Overall impact
Under the action of microflora, stagnant intestinal contents undergo processes of decay. At the same time, toxic substances are released – indole, skatole, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methanol. Sucking into the blood, they cause chronic poisoning of the whole organism. This is manifested by weakness, loss of appetite, headaches, nervousness, bad mood. In pregnant women, impaired uteroplacental blood flow, delayed fetal development, early aging of the placenta, and premature labor can be observed under the influence of toxic products.
Many pregnant women ask themselves: is it possible to hurt with constipation during pregnancy? There is no definite answer to it. It all depends on the duration of the violation intestinal emptying, the duration, and course of pregnancy.
If constipation is short-lived, then straining is not dangerous in 1 and 2 trimesters. However, by the end of pregnancy, the need for a long time to empty the intestines can stimulate generic activity.
In chronic constipation, constant straining leads to overstretching of the muscles and ligaments that support the abdominal organs. This can adversely affect the effectiveness of the period and lead to the prolapse of the vagina, uterus, and bladder after childbirth.
Any straining is contraindicated in pregnant women with:
- threatened miscarriage;
- late toxicosis, accompanied by high blood pressure ;
- eye diseases, including severe myopia;
- diseases of the cardiovascular system.
Constipation during pregnancy: what to do?
It must be remembered that only a doctor can make a diagnosis of constipation. Even if the symptoms of the disease completely coincide, only a specialist should make the final decision on the appointment of a treatment.
The following methods can be used to normalize intestinal function:
- physical activity;
- Diet for constipation during pregnancy
All products in their action on intestinal motility can be divided into:
- impaired peristalsis.
In order to normalize stools, it is necessary to increase the consumption of products from the first group and try to avoid products from the second.
Positive effect on intestinal motility:
- vegetable fiber, which is found in carrots, beets, zucchini, pumpkin, wholemeal bread, buckwheat, oatmeal, barley porridge;
- foods high in organic acids (apples, prunes, figs, dried apricots, dates);
Slow down digestion:
- fatty red meats;
- products from pastry;
- White bread;
- rice and semolina;
- smoked meat;
- caffeine-containing beverages – strong tea and coffee;
- canned food;
- convenience foods and fast food (fast food);
One of the common treatments for constipation is eating bran or wholemeal bread. In pregnant women, this method of stimulating digestion is unacceptable. Due to the physiological characteristics of the future mother’s body, coarse plant fiber, lingering for a long time in the intestinal lumen, during digestion releases a large number of gases. This leads to bloating, pain adversely affects the state of being pregnant.
Instead, products containing more delicate plant fibers are recommended: figs, dried apricots, prunes, oatmeal.
For the same reason, the use of such gas-promoting products as cabbage, legumes, peeled apples, grape juice, radishes, garlic, and turnips should be avoided.
Pregnant women who do not have contraindications for the volume of fluid taken in should be drinking 1.5-2 liters of clean drinking water per day.
- Physical activity
Future moms should remember that pregnancy is not a disease, but a normal physiological state. Therefore, if it proceeds without complications, then there is no need to abandon physical activity. You can attend courses in gymnastics or yoga for expectant mothers, or engage in special programs at home, or you can just walk at least 1 hour a day. Best of all, if the walk will take place away from the roads and crowds of people.
All laxatives can be divided into four groups:
- drugs that increase the volume of feces. Facilitate bowel movements due to the effect of “lubrication”. In the form of suppositories (glycerin suppositories) can be used during pregnancy only in extreme cases when other methods and drugs do not help. For drugs intended for ingestion (vaseline oil), pregnancy is a contraindication.
- drugs that slow down the absorption of water from the intestines and cause an increase in intestinal contents. Preparations of this group are not absorbed in the intestine, are not digested, do not act on the wall of the colon. Allowed for use in pregnant women and nursing.
- drugs that enhance motility. Their action is based on stimulating the nerve endings of the intestinal wall. Contraindicated in pregnancy in all periods.
- preparations, softening fecal masses. Laxatives of this group do not irritate the rectal mucosa, are not absorbed and do not cause addiction. Allowed during pregnancy at any time and during breastfeeding. These include plantain seeds, photomural.
Constipation after childbirth
Often, constipation complicates the postpartum period. Disorders of intestinal motility in the first weeks-months after the birth of a child may be due to:
- hormones that are not balanced, when biological substances circulating in the blood have an inhibitory effect on intestinal activity;
- stretched walls of the anterior abdominal wall and the muscles of the perineum, which can not create effective intra-abdominal pressure;
- a sharp mixing of the intestines after the birth of the fetus and reducing the size of the uterus
- violation of the bowel after cesarean section;
- psychological reasons, when women are afraid of defecation due to pain with stitches after episiotomy, suturing of perineal tears, exacerbated hemorrhoids;
- lifestyle changes associated with the responsibilities of caring for a newborn: lack of sleep, chronic fatigue, violation of diet.
What to do? It all depends on the factor that underlies constipation.
If intestinal lethargy is caused by overstretched abdominal and perineal muscles, then diet and special exercises for women who gave birth will help.
At seams after ruptures, an episiotomy and Cesarean section the softening of a consistency of a chair comes to the forefront. This can be achieved with the help of a diet or drugs based on the road seed.
In order to restore the work of the intestine in the first days after cesarean section, early physical activity is necessary: turns in the bed, sleep on the abdomen from day 2 after the operation. Self-massage of the anterior abdominal wall gives a good effect. To do this, use your right hand in circular motions in a clockwise direction to massage the umbilical region. Spend on 20 massaging movements every 2-3 hours.
For women who are breastfeeding, should be attentive to the use of products that have a laxative effect. Many of them can cause increased gas formation in a child. Permitted for use during lactation:
- dried apricots;
- boiled beets;
- oatmeal and buckwheat cereals.
However, all children are individual, so it is necessary to monitor the overall reaction of the newborn to the introduction of any new product into the mother’s diet.