Natural Remedies for Constipation During Pregnancy
Constipation is a very common complaint in pregnancy. As your baby grows, your uterus expands, putting pressure on all other abdominal organs - including your intestines, stomach, liver, gallbladder and spleen. The muscles of your colon, in particular, have less room to keep the contents moving along. Not only that, but the reduced availability of space causes the contents of your colon to become more compacted. Symptoms of constipation may include less than one bowel movement per day, stool that is hard and difficult to pass, bloating and gas, as well as abdominal pain and cramping. The answer is not to take laxatives, but rather to ensure that you are consuming plenty of fiber and drinking lots of water.
Increase fiber intake - consume plenty of whole, plant-based foods such as veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains
Stay hydrated - drink at least half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily. If you weigh 130 lbs, this means at least 65 ounces of water daily (just over 8 cups).
Keep your body moving with light-moderate walks daily, or other exercise that you enjoy (prenatal yoga is an excellent way to get movement into your day as well as prepare for labor and delivery)
Keep mucus-forming foods to a minimum, if constipation is a particular trouble. Dairy products and meat have the tendency of compacting your stool, making it harder to pass through for elimination.
Do not use laxatives during pregnancy as this can trigger uterine contractions and cause potential miscarriage.
Fresh lemon juice - Antioxidant properties, high vitamin C content, increases the production of bile in the body, increase contractions of the bowel muscles and helps you to pass stool.
Try: waking up with warm water with ½ lemon
Oranges - High in vitamin C, antioxidant, high source of fiber
Try: Eating 1-2 oranges as a snack daily 1-2.
Prunes - Contain sorbitol that releases laxative properties.
Eat: 2-3 per day
Apple Cider- Contain pectin, a naturally occurring fiber that promotes bowel movement. Contain sorbitol which helps with laxative properties.
Try: Mixing 4 prunes with 1 cup pure apple cider and 1 cup water. Blend and drink before meals and before bedtime.
Flax Seeds - High source of omega 3 fatty acids, retain fluid in the body, forms a protective layer in the digestive tract called mucilage, adds bulk to your stool to make It softer. Make sure to drink lots of water when eating flax.
Try: mixing flax in smoothies and oats. Another wonderful remedy is to pour one cup of water over 1 tsp of whole flax seeds at night before bed. In the morning, the water will be thicker with gel-like quality. This is the mucilaginous fiber from the flax seeds which will not only help get your bowels moving but will also help to soothe and calm the digestive tract. Drink this mixture down followed by another glass of water to get things moving.
Chia seeds - Another powerful super seed with omega-3 fatty acids, full of mucilaginous fiber. They are also full of other minerals, including magnesium and calcium, both of which are important in the regulation of muscle contraction. They help create a soft bulk to the stool making it easier to pass. Try a chia seed pudding using 1-2 tbsp of chia seeds in a ½ cup of non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, cashew, etc.). Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes, or overnight. Top with berries (another fiber boost!) and enjoy!
Vitamin C - When consumed in high doses have laxative properties. Pregnant women should not exceed 6000 mg per day. Please keep in mind that once born, your baby will have adjusted to your level of vitamin C intake. When reducing your dosage, please do so slowly to avoid unpleasant side effects of perceived vitamin C deficiency.
Epsom Salt Bath - Contains magnesium which can help to relieve muscle soreness, relax muscle tension (a common condition associated with constipation) and has laxative properties.
Try: adding 1 cup Epsom salt to warm bath, soak and relax for up to 30 minutes 3x a week.
Essential Oils - Lemon and peppermint are best known essential oils to help soften your fecal impactions and relieve constipation.
Try: a few drops mixed in a carrier oil, such as jojoba, and massaging these oils through an aromatherapy massage.