Constipation is a common problem that affects approximately half of the women at some time in their pregnancy. Constipation occurs due to pressure of the growing womb on the rectum and the slow transit of food in the digestive system due to the influence of pregnancy hormones. Change in food habits due to ‘morning sickness' can also lead to constipation.
How to treat and prevent constipation in pregnancy?
Prevention and treatment involves much of the same thing. Here are few changes that can be made to your diet and lifestyle, to ease constipation.
• Eat foods rich in fiber such as whole grains like ragi, jowar, oats and wheat. Pulses like rajma, chana, green gram, cow peas, fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources too.
• Restrict instant foods like noodles or pasta. Avoid refined flour (maida) products like white bread, naan, kulchas or biscuits. If these foods are part of your daily menu, then switch to healthier options of whole grain products.
• Increase your liquid intake with healthy drinks like buttermilk, vegetable soups, tender coconut water, and lassi or fruit milk shakes.
But, avoid frequent intake of tea, coffee, colas or sodas. These drinks prevent absorption of nutrients and do not hydrate your body..
• Avoid being sedentary. Go for a regular walk, swimming or yoga (after consulting with your doctor) to help ease constipation.
What to avoid?
• Avoid over the counter medications or laxatives. Always check with your health care provider before using one.
• Avoid use of any mineral oil, castor oil or ‘triphala' which are used as home remedies for constipation as they are not suitable in pregnancy. It can cause cramping and interfere in the absorption of nutrients.
Talk to your doctor if constipation is persistent, as constipation can sometimes lead to piles and hemorrhoids.