If you are increasing fibre in your diet, it is important to do so slowly. I find that adding in hemp seeds, chia seeds and/or ground flax seeds can be an easy way for women to increase fibre, and there is the added bonus of getting some Essential Fatty Acids. Essential Fatty Acids are important for both you and your baby. If you are adding in seeds I recommend starting with 1-2 tsp and working your way up to 1-2 Tbsp a day. Another way to increase your fibre is to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables you are eating. The best way to do this is by eating them versus drinking them in juice or smoothie. The more fibre you can take in, the better.
Drink more water and fluid
Especially if you are increasing your fibre intake, it is important to increase your fluids. This doesn’t mean that you need to drink large glasses of water all at once as this can be quite overwhelming. Try just having sips of water throughout the day. A good way to do this is to have some water any time you go pee. Don’t like water? Try adding fruit such as berries, melon, or citrus fruits to your water to add some flavour.
Just because you are pregnant does not mean you need to stop being active. In fact, it is very important to remain active in pregnancy. Walking is a cheap and easy way to be more active, there are also lots of prenatal exercise classes offered. Many people enjoy prenatal yoga, however, it is not for everyone. I recommend finding someone who specializes in prenatal exercise to help you find the right fit for you.
Look at iron in your prenatal multivitamin
Are you taking a prenatal vitamin? Most contain iron, which can be very constipating. There are options out there. If you can, you may want to switch to a prenatal multivitamin that has less iron in it. If you think iron might be the culprit, I recommend talking to a Registered Dietitian, like me, so that you are still getting what you need nutritionally to help you have a healthy pregnancy.
Are you taking an iron supplement?
Many women are tired in pregnancy. I find that one of the most common things pregnant women hear is that they should be taking an iron supplement. Many women go into pregnancy with low iron stores (2). During pregnancy, having a low level of anemia is something to monitor to be sure it doesn't become a moderate or severe anemia throughout the pregnancy (2). I always recommend focusing on iron rich foods during pregnancy, as taking an iron supplement when not indicated can be a large cause for (unnecessary) constipation. Again, there are other ways, aside from an iron supplement, to ensure you are getting the iron you need in pregnancy. You will find a blog post here with more information.
These are a few ideas to help ease constipation in pregnancy. Looking at one or a combination can be very helpful.
Still dealing with constipation and looking for some support getting relief? Contact Jill, Nurture The Future’s Registered Dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org