Image by Alisa Donner
Constipation, while far from sexy, is a common problem during pregnancy. It can be extremely uncomfortable in a body where “space” is an issue. Approximately half of all pregnant women will experience issues with constipation at some point during their pregnancy. Hormonal changes, as well as pressure from the expanding uterus, relax the intestinal muscles and cause slower gastrointestinal (GI) movement.
Help your body to keep things moving each day with three simple strategies:
- Incorporate fiber-filled foods into your daily menu
- Drink plenty of water
- Move your body
Strive to eat about 20-25 grams of fiber per day. Found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, fiber is an important part of your daily diet. It helps to satisfy hunger and to keep your digestive system in top shape, and it also has been linked to lower cholesterol.
Perhaps we simply don’t know where to find fiber or know how much is in the foods we eat. If you are reading a food label for fiber info, don’t sweat the difference between the soluble and insoluble fiber. Look for foods to contain at least 2 grams of total dietary fiber (about as much as in a small piece of fruit).
Become familiar with what 25 grams of fiber might look like in your diet. Here’s an example:
- ½ cup beans (8 grams of fiber)
- 1 whole wheat English muffin (4 grams of fiber)
- ½ cup cooked vegetables (4 grams of fiber)
- 1 small apple (2 grams of fiber)
- 1 ounce almonds (3 grams of fiber)
- 1 LUNA bar (3 grams of fiber)
Animal and dairy products typically do not contain fiber. Think about little changes to bump up your intake, such as complementing your chicken with some lentils or your yogurt with some crunchy bran cereal.
It is important to match fiber intake with plenty of fluid to prevent a “back-up”. While it doesn’t matter where that fluid comes from, I find focusing on water first helps to ensure you stay well hydrated. Then, any extra fluid from fruit, soups, or other drinks is just a bonus. During my pregnancies I couldn’t get enough cranberry juice, but I didn’t want all the sugar. So I poured myself a glass of sparkling water and added a splash of cranberry juice for flavor. Find little tricks to help you drink up. Perhaps having water bottles stashed in the car, at your desk, by your bed will help.
Think of your digestive system as a muscle that needs to be flexed. When you are up and about it helps to stimulate the movement of you GI tract. Incorporate some form of movement into your day. In the third trimester some women may find this more difficult than others. I made a permanent imprint on my purple sofa in the weeks before the big day. It doesn’t matter if you are walking miles or just opening your hips with some light yoga poses. Moving your body in a way that is comfortable for you is also comfortable for GI movement.
A body that is fiber-fed, well hydrated, and mobile will not only help your GI tract feel better, but you and your baby will also feel better.
By Tara DelloIacono, RD at Clif Bar & Company, and LUNA Bar, she is also a long time PAM Advisory Team member and mom.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by Tara DelloIocano Thies, RD, Clif/LUNA Bar, and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Pregnancy Awareness Month (PAM) or any employee thereof. PAM is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by Tara DelloIacono Thies, RD or Clif/LUNA Bar. Consult with your own medical provider regarding your individual health questions or concerns.
Clif Bar, constipation during pregnancy, LUNA Bar, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Awareness Month, pregnancy diet, prenatal constipation, Tara Dellolocano-Theis, Whole Foods