How can I ease constipation in pregnancy?
Along with delights that pregnancy can throw at you, sickness, swollen feet, heartburn to name but a few, over half of pregnant women will experience constipation at some point during their pregnancy and it’s certainly nothing to feel embarrassed about.
There is a perfectly simple explanation for it.
Hormones play a key role in creating constipation when you’re pregnant, by simply causing the muscles in your bowel to relax. In doing so, these muscles become sluggish which means that food hangs around for longer in the digestive tract and this causes bloating, gassing, irregular bowel movements and understandably generally overall crankiness.
Another delightful result of constipation and straining during a bowel movement, is haemorrhoids, or 'piles'. Spritz for Bits can be sprayed directly onto the piles, or onto tissue and applied for longer periods to provide relief from the itching and discomfort and to also help reduce the piles. It can safely be used during pregnancy and afterwards.
Whilst it's easy to blame things on hormones your ever growing uterus is also taking up essential space that is normally occupied by your bowel therefore it has less room to go about its natural business.
You will be pleased to hear there are several things you can do to help alleviate these symptoms...
Drink fluids - increasing fluid intake water and fresh fruit for example, will ensure smooth movement of solids through the bowel and help to keep stools soft which are ultimately easier to pass! Warm liquids like hot water and lemon are particularly effective as they help to stimulate peristalsis (the wave like motion that creates intestinal contractions) which help you go!
Light exercise - exercise encourages bowel movements, even something as simple as a brisk walk can help to get things moving so grab a jacket and walk to the shops to pick up some daily fibre sources to set you up the for the day ahead.
Indulge in fibre (although please do this slowly) - adding raw vegetables to meals, prunes in desserts and so on, but do allow your body time to adjust to the fibre intake!
Massage - massage can be beneficial to help relieve constipation by relaxing the abdomen, reducing discomfort and encouraging regular bowel movements. An effective abdominal massage should take approx 15min so it's worth getting comfortable so you can fully relax. Abdominal massage can be done lying, sitting or standing so it's worth having a go in a few different positions to find out what works best for you. There are a couple of key points to remember when engaging in abdominal massage......
- use the flat of your finger, rather than the tips of fingers to massage with. Using tips is too invasive and will feel uncomfortable
- keep movements below the rib cage
- allow movements to flow but take your time enjoying and relaxing into your massage
- reduce pressure when working over the bladder, which is situated below the tummy button and above the public bone.
- make sure that you massage in a clockwise direction as this ensures you are working in the same direction as the body’s digestive system.
- in terms of pressure, find what is comfortable for you, remembering that you are not aiming to apply great pressure; whilst massaging too lightly may feel 'tickly’ and is less effective for the relief of constipation.
You can massage with a variety of products but it’s probably better to stay away from mineral oils which are known to clog pores and isn’t particularly nutritious for the skin. My Expert Midwife Fantastic Skin Elastic is formulated to provide the perfect combination of ingredients for your massage with optimum benefits. Its unique combination of essential oils is designed to ease the discomfort and niggles of a growing bump, while the grapefruit oil helps to promote better movement of the gut to help with constipation.
Once you are comfortable follow these simple directions for abdominal massage.....
- start by resting the palm of your hand on your tummy and just take a couple of moments to take a few deep breaths in and out and allow yourself to relax.
- starting at the tummy button begin to draw, with the flats of your fingertips, a small circle around the tummy button and repeat this several times.
- slowly start to make these movements bigger so you eventually circle your entire abdomen.
- after repeating the above a couple of times around the outer of the abdomen slowly start to decrease the size of circles working your back to the tummy button.
- finally come to rest your palm on your tummy again taking a few deep breaths to conclude the abdominal massage.
As well as helping to alleviate constipation there are many other benefits to abdominal massage during pregnancy....
- Skin will benefit from the application of Fantastic Skin Elastic by helping to nourish the skin and may help to alleviate some of the unfortunate discomfort some ladies may feel through the gradual stretching of a growing tummy.
- It should help you relax therefore improving sleep, which will help keep you feeling at your best.
- As your baby grows and towards the middle to end of your 2nd trimester your baby may move in response to your touch. This is a very special experience which can help enhance and deepen the bond between you both.
- Consider including your partner and asking them to massage your tummy, for some ladies this can feel a little awkward at first but regularly engaging in pregnancy massage together can be a great way to maintain closeness. It allows your partner to develop a bond with baby.
And don’t forget - there is a positive benefit of constipation in pregnancy - when the food hangs around in the bowel there is added time for the nutrients to be absorbed into the blood stream allowing more of them to reach your baby!