What is constipation, and why does it happen in pregnant women?
Constipation, bowel, or stuck, 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 per 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 moms to have bowel disorder. It is due to changes in sex hormones and an increase in the uterus, which contributes to the slower functioning of the bowel.
Does Constipation In Pregnancy Hurt Your 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.
Dilation 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 gut can worsen from the fourth month of gestation since the fetus will be larger and consequently further restricting the gut space.
In turn, the increase of the sex hormone progesterone in pregnancy – responsible for the progress of the mammary glands, the uterus during the puberty, in addition to boosting the appearance of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle – aggravates the presence of gases in the body, leaving the lazy bowel.
When there is not enough iron in the woman’s body during pregnancy, it is common for the obstetrician 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 the cells) and ensures the proper functioning of the immune system.
In pregnancy, having the right amount of the mineral in the human body is indispensable because blood is more abundant in this period, therefore requiring more hemoglobin. Iron is also used by the growing baby and by the placenta until the first three months. Despite the benefits, the use of supplements can affect the body’s biological clock.
Bad habits and physical conditions contribute to the onset of the problem. Are they:
Do not go to the bathroom
Generally, women prefer not to use public toilets because of poor hygiene. This practice, however, obstructs the bowel, also altering the functioning of the biological schedule.
One tip to re-use the public toilets is to wipe the vase cap with alcohol in gel or cover with toilet paper.
Being a sedentary person and not having a healthy diet contributes to the trapped gut. Therefore, it is essential to practice physical activity, eat plenty of water, and eat foods high in fiber.
Medications used for a variety of purposes – antidepressants, antitussives ( coughs ), opioid analgesics (associated with morphine), antihypertensives, and aluminum and calcium-containing antacids – all contribute to the onset of constipation.
Certain diseases, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, and chronic renal failure, cause changes in the hormones or impair the use and expulsion of substances, facilitating the onset of constipation.
Neurological and muscular diseases
Damage to the spinal cord and multiple sclerosis impairs perineal relaxation by expelling the stool.
Situations that trigger trauma and behavioral changes, such as sexual abuse, depression, and dementia, disrupt the performance of the gut. Stress and anxiety also reduce peristaltic movements, which are involuntary and responsible for emptying the bowel.
Symptoms of constipation
The most common symptoms are:
- Stiffening of the abdomen;
- Abdominal discomfort;
- Difficulty expelling stools;
- Hard or fragmented feces;
- Feeling that you have not entirely evacuated;
- To have the impression that there was an anorectal block;
- Defecate three times at least weekly.
How is the diagnosis made?
Usually, most women do not feel the need to diagnose constipation. However, in cases with more serious symptoms should seek medical help.
To get rid of the stuck intestine, an investigation of the patient’s history is done 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, scars, and condition of the secretions is ascertained. In the examination, it can also be determined if there is a presence of fecal debris as well as the functioning of the opening and closing of the anus. The skin of the anus can be separated to see better its interior. If there is an anal fissure, for example, it may be perceived.
The examination is done by inserting the index finger (lubricated with 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.
In the anus, an instrument called anoscope is introduced, which investigates complications in the anal region. The collected material, be it feces, pus, or blood, is observed, besides diagnosing anal ulcers and fissures.
An examination is done by inserting a device into the anus that visualizes intestinal, rectum, and colon segments. If an injury is detected, the analysis will be done through a biopsy, which consists of the removal of the material using forceps.
What to do to treat constipation during pregnancy?
In most cases, having food readjustment, drinking water, and practicing physical activities is enough. Foods that aid in intestinal function, abundant in fiber, should be ingested daily. Going to the bathroom at the same time also improves bowel movement.
If the problem persists, consult a doctor.
The obstetrician may prescribe laxatives and suppositories in these cases or more challenging situations. The prescribed medicine must be ingested a few times so that the body is not habitable and is used continuously. The suppository, in turn, should be glycerin, which causes the stools to become moistened, facilitating excretion.
Home Remedies for Constipation
Foods that are rich in vitamins, calcium, iron, and laxative characteristics help in the proper functioning of the intestine and ease the symptoms caused by constipation. However, the effectiveness of household recipes is not proven.
It is worth noting that even vitamin supplements and natural laxatives should be administered under a medical authorization, as some components may promote uterine contractions and should be banned during pregnancy. Also, the effectiveness of household recipes is not proven. Always follow your doctor’s recommendation.
- Half a papaya (remove the peel and seeds);
- 4 pitted black plums;
- 200 ml of orange juice;
- 20g of flaked grain.
Method of preparation
In the blender, beat the papaya, the plums, and the orange juice. Then put the flaxseed and stir well. The juice should be taken in the morning, still fasting.
- One papaya (remove the bark and seeds);
- Juice of 2 oranges;
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed;
- Sugar to taste.
Method of preparation
Beat all items in the blender. Drink one glass a day in the morning.
- 5 prunes;
- Half a cup of water;
- 3 teaspoons of honey.
Method of preparation
Leave the plums soaked in the water for 3 hours. Remove the prunes and knead. Return them in the water and add the honey. Mix well and ingest 3 tablespoons a day.
Medications for constipation
- Bisacodyl ( Dulcolax );
- Sodium Citrate (Microlax);
- Lactulose ( Lactulone );
- Macrogol 3350 + Sodium Bicarbonate + Sodium Chloride + Potassium Chloride ( Muvinlax );
- Polydextrose + Lactitol ( Normaten Fit ).
NEVER self-medicate or stop using medicine without first consulting a doctor. Only he can tell which medication, dosage, and duration of treatment is most appropriate for your specific case. The information contained in this site is intended only to inform, not intended in any way to replace the guidelines of a specialist, or serve as a recommendation for any treatment. Always follow the directions on the package leaflet and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.
Overall, changing some eating and lifestyle habits are enough to treat constipation. See the recommendations:
Acquire your biological clock
Get used to evacuate in the morning, as soon as you wake up or after breakfast because the intestine works best under these conditions. Also, doing poop at this time allows for greater tranquility and decreased the size of the abdomen, facilitating daily activities. So adjust your gut mechanism and wait as long as you need in the bathroom until you can poop.
The correct way to sit
When we sit in the toilets, we usually leave our feet flat on the floor. However, this practice is considered wrong because the position compresses the rectum, and the stool does not move properly and can cause problems such as hemorrhoids and hernias.
The indicated is to do the evacuation in the squatting position, that is, the feet are lifted using a stool. In this way, the rectum is elongated, facilitating the elimination of feces. This posture also ensures that there is no leftover stool, common when sitting, which contributes to the expulsion of bacteria and toxins from the body.
Healthy eating improves the conditioning of our body itself.
Foods high in fiber
Whole grains, cereals, fruits, and vegetables should be ingested daily. Invest in All-Bran (wheat bran) cereals, prunes, passion fruit, almonds in the bark, cabbage, sesame, peas, apples, pears with peel and mandarin. There is the option of products that are abundant in insoluble fibers. However, the obstetrician should be consulted before using them.
Foods rich in water
Watermelon, strawberry, melon, radish, tomato, turnip are some of the foods that are fed in water.
In case of swelling, avoid foods that can ferment, such as beans, cabbage, or lentils. Decreasing sweets and fries also do well in the body.
Menu for women with constipation in pregnancy
Some menu choices help in the gradual improvement of constipation. The ideal is to maintain a diverse and healthy diet, which contains all the nutrients that the body needs:
Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals (such as calcium, iron, and potassium). Among the options are whole wheat bread, white cheese, and natural orange juice.
Fermented milk is an excellent choice because it prevents the increase of bacteria that damage the intestine.
Give preference to foods that contain vitamins, fiber, iron, and antioxidants. Salads (arugula, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage), brown rice, and meats, such as chicken or fish, ensure a balanced meal.
In the evening period, bet on the kiwi, which has a laxative function. Yogurts and vitamins also aid in bowel functioning.
More intake of fiber and vitamins to avoid the urge to eat at dawn. Among the options are the salads (lettuce, chuchu, beetroot, and tomato), puree, soups, beans, and brown rice.
Teas, such as fennel and chamomile, contribute to the well-being and flow of the gut. Skimmed yogurts, along with fruits, in addition to having little fat, are sources of calcium and fiber.
Poor bowel function is associated with a lack of water. Therefore, take 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day. To facilitate consumption control, but the water in a pet bottle and drink it during the day. For those who can not drink water in its pure state, one way is to aromatize it with fruit.
Physical activity for expectant mothers should be moderate. Take light walks, stretching movements, yoga, and water aerobics. The exercises help control body mass and decrease fetal compression in the gut. The practice is recommended for all women as it contributes to the smooth functioning of intestinal motility.
The trapped intestine can progress to hemorrhoids precisely because of the dysfunction of the intestinal system. Due to the lack of fibers in the body, the stools become hardened, requiring a greater effort at the time of evacuation.
As a result, there is pressure and abnormality in the veins in the rectum and anus, causing hemorrhoids. The disease has symptoms such as discomfort, bleeding, burning, and itching.
Early diagnosis allows the treatment to reduce symptoms and stabilize the condition. However, healing is done only through surgery.
An anal fissure can be confused with hemorrhoids because they present 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. It happens because the more rigid or very large stools in the evacuation can injure the mucosa of the anus, appearing the anal fissure.
Appropriate treatment varies for each patient. It consists of anesthetic creams, and in some cases, laxatives, according to medical guidance.
Rectal prolapse is when a part of the large intestine is exposed outside the anus. It is due to the force exerted at the time of the evacuation, most often due to constipation.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, difficulty to defecate, and burning in the anal area. To get rid of the discomfort, you need to have a surgery that removes this visible part or fixation of it to the sacral bone through the perineum or abdomen.
How to prevent
In addition to a balanced diet and exercising your body to improve the functioning of the intestine, betting on exercises that aid in evacuation also decreases the risk of having the disease:
- Try to evacuate at the same time each day for 10 minutes to accustom the body;
- Do not stop going to the bathroom when you feel like it, because the stool can go back to the intestine, generating the growth of the fecal cake and inhibiting the defecation.
Constipation in pregnancy is a troublesome disease but does not harm the baby. Having a healthy routine prevents and treats the problem.
So be aware of the information contained in the post. Share with your friends and future moms!