Constipation in Pregnancy: is it normal? Know what to do

What is constipation and why does it happen in pregnant women?

The constipation , bowel or arrested, as it is popularly called constipation (ICD K59 10) is characterized by difficulty in defecating. The disease is noticed when there are two or fewer bowel movements a week, using more force than necessary or when it is scarce.

The female population is the most affected: 2 out of 3 women suffer from the problem. During pregnancy, it is common for future mothers to have the intestinal disorder. This is due to changes in sex hormones and the enlargement of the uterus, which contribute to the intestine functioning more slowly.

Constipation in pregnancy is bad for the baby?

Constipation in pregnancy does not affect the baby. However, in addition to the symptoms, if the woman has nausea, severe pain in the abdomen or on one side, the obstetrician should be consulted.

Causes

Dilatation of the uterus

In pregnancy, with the growth of the uterus to accommodate the baby, the stomach and intestine are squeezed, affecting their performance. The trapped intestine may worsen after the fourth month of pregnancy , as the fetus will be larger and, consequently, further restricting the space of the intestine.

Progesterone Hormone

In turn, the increase in the sex hormone progesterone in pregnancy – responsible for the progress of the mammary glands, the uterus during the puberty period, in addition to boosting the appearance of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle – aggravates the appearance of gases in the body, leaving the lazy gut.

Iron-based supplements

When there is not enough iron in the woman’s body during pregnancy, it is common for obstetricians to prescribe supplements to correct the problem. Iron is a mineral that assists in the production of hemoglobin (blood protein in charge of transporting oxygen to cells) and ensures the proper functioning of the immune system.

In pregnancy, having the right amount of mineral in the human body is essential, as blood is more abundant during this period, therefore, needing more hemoglobin. Iron is also used by the growing baby and the placenta for the first three months. Despite the benefits, the use of supplements can affect the body’s biological clock.

Risk factors

Bad habits and physical conditions contribute to the emergence of the problem. Are they:

Do not go to the bathroom

Generally, women in general prefer not to use public restrooms due to the lack of hygiene in the area. This practice, however, obstructs the intestine, also altering the functioning of the biological schedule.

A tip for using public toilets again is to clean the toilet lid with gel alcohol or cover it with toilet paper.

Lifestyle

Being a sedentary person and not having a healthy diet contributes to the trapped intestine. Therefore, it is important to practice physical activity, drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in fiber.

Medicines

Medicines used for various purposes – antidepressants, antitussives (treatment for coughs ), opioid analgesics (associated with morphine), antihypertensives and antacids containing aluminum and calcium-based – contribute to the appearance of constipation.

Altered hormones

Certain diseases, such as hypothyroidism , diabetes and chronic renal failure, cause changes in hormones or impair the use and expulsion of substances, facilitating the appearance of constipation.

Neurological and muscular diseases

Spinal cord damage and multiple sclerosis impair perineal relaxation by expelling stool.

Psychological

Situations that trigger trauma and behavioral changes, such as sexual abuse, depression and dementia, hinder the performance of the intestine. Stress and anxiety also reduce peristaltic movements, which are involuntary and responsible for emptying the intestine.

Symptoms of constipation

The most common symptoms are:

  • Cramps;
  • Tightening of the abdomen;
  • Swelling;
  • Abdominal discomfort;
  • Difficulty expelling feces;
  • Hard or fragmented stools;
  • Feel that you have not fully evacuated;
  • Having the impression that there was an anorectal block;
  • Defecate at least 3 times a week.

How is the diagnosis made?

Usually, most women do not feel the need to diagnose constipation. However, in cases with more serious symptoms, medical help should be sought.

To get rid of the trapped intestine, an investigation of the patient’s history is carried out, as well as a detailed clinical examination. From there, it is possible to discover the cause of the problem and receive the appropriate treatment. Are they:

Perianal inspection and palpation

Through anal inspection and palpation, the appearance of the anal skin, the existence of scars and the condition of the secretions are investigated. In the examination, it can also be determined if there are fecal debris as well as the functioning of the opening and closing of the anus. The skin of the anus can be separated in order to better see its interior. If there is an anal fissure , for example, it can be noticed.

Digital rectal examination

The examination is done by inserting the index finger (lubricated with a glove) into the anal orifice, seeking muscle relaxation. The purpose of this procedure is to detect possible rectal infections, the presence of blood or tumors.

Anuscopy

In the anus, an instrument called an anoscope is introduced, which investigates complications in the anal region. The collected material is observed, be it feces, pus or blood, in addition to diagnosing ulcers and anal fissures.

Retoxygmoidoscopy

Examination done by inserting a device in the anus that visualizes intestinal, rectum and colon segments. If a lesion is detected, the analysis will take place through a biopsy, which consists of the removal of the material by means of forceps.

What to do to treat constipation in pregnancy?

In most cases, having a food readjustment, drinking water and practicing physical activities is enough. Foods that help intestinal functioning, abundant in fiber, should be eaten daily. Going to the bathroom at the same time also improves intestinal flow.

If the problem still does not go away, consult a doctor.

The obstetrician may prescribe laxatives and suppositories in these cases or in more serious situations. The prescribed medicine should be taken only a few times, so that the organism does not get used to it and is used continuously. The suppository , in turn, must be glycerin, which makes the feces moist, facilitating excretion.

Read more:  Suppository: how to use?

Homemade tricks against constipation

Foods that are rich in vitamins , calcium, iron and laxative characteristics help in the proper functioning of the intestine and alleviate the symptoms caused by constipation. However, the effectiveness of homemade recipes has not been proven.

It is worth mentioning that even vitamin supplements and natural laxatives must be administered under medical authorization, as some components can promote uterine contractions, and should be banned during pregnancy. In addition, the effectiveness of homemade recipes is not proven. Always follow your doctor’s recommendation.

Tip 1

Ingredients

  • Half a papaya (remove the peel and seeds);
  • 4 pitted black plums;
  • 200 ml of orange juice;
  • 20g of crushed flaxseed.

Preparation mode

In a blender, beat the papaya, plums and orange juice. Then, add the flaxseed and mix well. The juice should be taken in the morning, still on an empty stomach.

Tip 2

Ingredients

  • 1 papaya (remove the peel and seeds);
  • Juice of 2 oranges;
  • 1 spoonful of flaxseed;
  • Sugar to taste.

Preparation mode

Beat all items in the blender. Drink one glass a day in the morning.

Tip 3

Ingredients

  • 5 prunes;
  • Half a cup (of tea) of water;
  • 3 teaspoons of honey.

Preparation mode

Soak the plums in the water for 3 hours. Remove the plums and mash them. Return them to the water and add the honey. Mix well and eat 3 tablespoons a day.

Constipation Medicines

  • Bisacodil (Dulcolax);
  • Sodium Citrate (Microlax);
  • Lactulose (Lactulona);
  • Macrogol 3350 + Sodium Bicarbonate + Sodium Chloride + Potassium Chloride ( Muvinlax );
  • Polidextrose + Lactitol (Normaten Fit).

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Living together

In general, changing some eating and lifestyle habits is enough to treat constipation. See the recommendations:

Get used to your biological clock

Get used to evacuating in the morning, as soon as you wake up or after breakfast, as the intestine works best under these conditions. In addition, pooping at this time allows greater tranquility and decreases the size of the abdomen, facilitating daily activities. So, adjust your intestinal mechanism and wait as long as it takes in the bathroom until you can poop.

Correct way of sitting

When we sit on the toilets, we usually leave our feet on the floor. However, this practice is considered wrong, as the position compresses the rectum and the feces do not move properly, which can cause problems such as hemorrhoids and hernias.

It is recommended to evacuate in the squatting position, that is, the feet are raised by means of a stool. In this way, the rectum is elongated, facilitating the elimination of feces. This posture also ensures that there is no trace of feces, common when sitting, which contributes to the expulsion of bacteria and toxins from the body.

food

Healthy eating improves the conditioning of our body itself.

Fiber-rich foods

Whole grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily. Invest in All Bran cereals (based on wheat bran), prunes, passion fruit, almonds in shell, cabbage, sesame, peas, apples, pear in shell and tangerine. There is a choice of products that are abundant in soluble fibers, however, the obstetrician should be consulted before using them.

Water-rich foods

Watermelon , strawberry, melon, radish, tomato, turnip are some of the foods that are fed up with water.

In case of bloating, avoid foods that can ferment, such as beans , cabbage or lentils. Decreasing sweets and fried foods is also good for the body.

Menu for women with constipation during pregnancy

Some menu alternatives help in the gradual improvement of constipation. The ideal is to maintain a diversified and healthy diet, containing all the nutrients that the body needs:

Breakfast

Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals (such as calcium, iron and potassium). Among the options are wholemeal bread, white cheese and natural orange juice.

Morning snack

Fermented milk is a great choice, as it prevents the increase of bacteria that harm the intestine.

Lunch

Give preference to foods that contain vitamins, fiber, iron and antioxidants. Salads (arugula, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, kale), brown rice and meats, such as chicken or fish, guarantee a balanced meal.

Afternoon snack

In the afternoon, bet on kiwi , which has a laxative function. Yogurts and vitamins also help with bowel function.

Dinner

More intake of fiber and vitamins to avoid the urge to eat at dawn. Among the options are salads (lettuce, chayote, beets and tomatoes), puree, soups, beans and brown rice.

Supper

Teas, such as fennel and chamomile, contribute to the well-being and flow of the intestine. Skimmed yogurts together with fruits, besides being low in fat, are sources of calcium and fiber.

Body hydration

Malfunction of the intestine is associated with a lack of water. Therefore, drink 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day. To facilitate consumption control, put the water in a pet bottle and drink it during the day. For those who cannot drink water in its pure state, one way is to flavor it with fruit.

Physical activity

Physical activity for pregnant women should be moderate. Take light walks, stretching movements, yoga and water aerobics. Exercises help to control body mass and decrease the compression exerted by the fetus in the intestine. The practice is recommended for all women, as it contributes to the proper functioning of intestinal motility.

Complications

Hemorrhoids

The trapped intestine can progress to hemorrhoids due to dysfunction of the intestinal system. Due to the lack of fibers in the body, the stools are hardened, requiring a greater effort when evacuating.

As a consequence, there is pressure and abnormalities in the veins in the rectum and anus, causing hemorrhoids. The disease has symptoms such as discomfort, bleeding, burning and itching.

The diagnosis made in the initial phase allows the treatment to reduce symptoms and stabilize the pathology. However, the cure is done only through surgery.

Anal fissure

The anal fissure can be confused with hemorrhoids, as they have similar symptoms, such as pain and bleeding at the time of evacuation.

However, in this case, there is a “tear” inside the anus, caused by constipation. This is because the stools that are more rigid or too large in the bowel movement can damage the mucosa of the anus, resulting in an anal fissure.

Proper treatment varies for each patient. It consists of anesthetic creams, and in some cases, laxatives, as per medical advice.

Rectal prolapse

Rectal prolapse is when a part of the large intestine is exposed outside the anus. This happens due to the force performed at the time of evacuation, caused, in most cases, by constipation.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, difficulty defecating and burning in the anal area. To get rid of the discomfort, it is necessary to have a surgery that removes this visible part or fixes it to the sacrum bone through the perineum or abdomen.

How to prevent

In addition to a balanced diet and exercising your body to improve bowel function, betting on exercises that help with bowel movement also decrease the risk of having the disease:

  • Try to evacuate at the same time every day for 10 minutes to get your body used to it;
  • Be sure to go to the bathroom when you feel like it, as the feces can return to the intestine, generating the growth of fecal cake and inhibiting defecation.

Constipation in pregnancy is an uncomfortable disease that does not harm the baby. Having a healthy routine prevents and treats the problem.

So stay tuned to the information contained in the post. Share with your friends and future moms!

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