Up to 38% of women experience constipation during pregnancy. Swollen feet, morning sickness, exhaustion, pants that don’t fit… As if some of the most common pregnancy problems weren’t enough, it’s estimated that 11-38 percent* of pregnant women suffer from constipation as well. Between the progesterone slowing down your system, a baby pushing on your rectum, and an increased blood supply making dehydration easier than ever, it’s no wonder that constipation during pregnancy is a fairly common complaint. But fortunately for those of you who are about to bear babies, constipation is a problem that’s easily prevented—and naturally—remedied, with one or more of the 7 remedies and strategies below. So sit back, relax, read…and get ready to go with the flow.
1. Eat high-fiber foods.
An oldie but a goodie when it comes to constipation relief, if you’re looking for a dietary solution to your stopped-up problem, look no further than high-fiber foods you'll love. They’re easy to incorporate into your diet (toss beans on a salad, top your oatmeal with chia seeds, or simply step up your vegetable game) and—when prepared correctly—are so delicious that you won’t just be doing your intestines a favor, but your taste buds as well.
2. Drink plenty of water.
Dehydration is one of the common causes of constipation. While eight glasses a day is the standard recommended amount in general (which you’ve probably heard a million times), if you’re looking to really speed up the, umm, process, then go with a the-more-the-merrier strategy for your H20 consumption. (And to change things up, try having some hot water with lemon, which can be an excellent way to jump-start your system, particularly in the morning.)
3. Enjoy other hydrating foods as well.
If you can’t take any more agua, try drinking other liquids as well. Broths are also an excellent way to keep solids moving, while the most cliché—and, yes, classically geriatric—option, prune juice, is a time-honored treatment for a reason.
4. Take Good to Go™
A shameless plug? Perhaps. But only because it works. If you’re making a trek and traveling while pregnant, Good to Go is the perfect way to ensure that your body goes with the flow. (Which, by the way, is also a good philosophy to apply when dealing with your mother-in-law…if it’s that kind of trip.)
5. Eliminate iron supplements.
Typical iron supplements—which don’t absorb well in the digestion process—are a common cause of constipation during pregnancy. Instead of popping these, just talk to your doctor and make sure that your diet is adequate and sufficient in the iron department. Green, leafy vegetables, for example, are an excellent source of iron, and also have the added benefit of being rich in fiber, the importance of which we’ve emphasized above.
6. Get some exercise.
While the fatigue of pregnancy may make exercise the most unappealing option (well, besides that prune juice), logically, there’s no better way to get things moving internally than by moving yourself. Aerobic exercise is an excellent way to relieve constipation, and—for a more mellow option—there are also certain yoga poses that not only aid the digestion system, but relieve the stress that can contribute to constipation as well. Just be sure, of course, to talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise routine. They’re the real experts on you, your body and your baby, after all.
We touched on this a little earlier, but you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of stress, which not only affects you mentally and emotionally, but physically as well—in this case, as a cause of constipation. That said, it’s important to consider your mental wellbeing and pay attention to the practices that help you relieve stress (and by proxy, relieve that constipation). Whether it’s taking a walk by the water, indulging in a long bath, doing some prenatal yoga or simply practicing meditation and breathing techniques, implementing whatever activity it is that helps you stay stress-free is a very important part of pregnancy in general. (And be sure to keep those strategies in mind for after you give birth as well, because if there’s ever a time you’ll need stress relief, let’s be honest, it’ll be for the next 18 years.) *Source: Jewell DJ, Young G. Interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001;(2):CD001142.