Many women have constipation before they get pregnant, but with the increase in hormones and pressure of the womb against the bowels, the problem can get considerably worse. Luckily, there are some tried and true natural ways to get things flowing again, without resorting toover-the-counter drugs that can harm a developing baby.
One of the culprits causing constipation during pregnancy is an increase in progesterone. This hormone causes the smooth muscle fibers to relax in the body, preparing mom and the baby for delivery. But it also smoothes the intestines, which means the peristaltic motion is not as strong, and food moves more solely through the digestive tract. Another cause is that your large and small intestine are simply running out of real estate as the baby grows, causing slow digestion as well.
The following are 5 sure-fire remedies to help support digestive health while pregnant:
- 1. Eat high-fiber foods – It is already a good idea to do this even when you aren’t pregnant since insoluble fiber helps to move undigested food through the digestive tract, but during pregnancy it is vital. Flax seeds and almonds are high in fiber, and so are fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t getting enough of these foods due to morning sickness, try taking psyllium tablets or eat a bowl of organic oat bran with some strawberries.
- 2. Watermelon is key – This is an old midwives remedy for constipation. Midwives used to boil watermelon seeds to make a tea for pregnant women suffering from constipation, though you can also just eat lots of the fruit. Since it is full of water, it also helps to move food through the bowels. Watermelon seed-tea can also help an infant get its kidneys kick-started.
- 3. Magnesium supplements to the rescue – High dose magnesium supplements are safe to take during pregnancy and can really save an expecting mom who hasn’t been able to have a bowel movement for several days at a time.
- 4. Three cheers for chamomile – Sipping chamomile tea is a great way to relax your intestinal tract and your overall self. Chamomile has been used for centuries. It soothes frazzled nerves, helps with insomnia – another woe for pregnant women – and it also has a generally calming effect. Drink no more than two cups a day, though, since there are untested rumors that it can cause miscarriage in higher doses.
- 5. Change your angle – There are yoga poses that mimic many postures pregnant women are taught for giving birth. These poses are also really helpful with constipation. When your knees are at a 90-degree angle, everything is helped along quite well. Wind-relieving pose – and yes that is really the name of the posture – can help move both gas and undigested food through the intestines,providing considerable relief.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.