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Many pregnant women suffer from a very common problem during pregnancy, constipation.  It often begins early in the pregnancy and can be a burden throughout most of the pregnancy for some women.  Constipation of often an early sign of pregnancy for many women.

What causes constipation during pregnancy?  One of the major triggers of constipation during pregnancy is the hormone progesterone.  Progesterone slows down the digestive system during pregnancy often causing changes in your bowels including constipation.  There are a few other things during pregnancy that certainly don’t help matters either.  They include an increased intake of iron for some women who are on prenatal vitamins or iron supplements and the pressure from your growing uterus on your intestines.  Fortunately there are things you can do to ease this common pregnancy complaint.

So what can you do to help ward off constipation during pregnancy or to help “move things along” if constipation has already set in:

  • Eat high fiber foods throughout the day, every day.  Choose foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  At least 6-8 glasses is recommended.
  • A glass of fruit juice a day, especially prune juice can be helpful.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t put off going to the bathroom.  If you have to go, go.  Putting it off can cause constipation or make already existing constipation worse.
  • If constipation is a real problem and natural methods don’t work, talk to your prenatal caregiver about an over the counter laxative or stool softener.

Constipation is a real pain no matter when it happens, but during pregnancy it can become a real bother.  Try to avoid constipation in the first place if you can by following a healthy diet rich in high fiber foods, regular exercise, and a regular bathroom schedule.  Talk to your doctor or midwife if you have questions about constipation during your pregnancy.

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