Dealing With The Discomforts Of Pregnancy
During pregnancy a woman's body, mind, and emotions go through an amazing transformative process. In the process of this great change, a woman may experience any number of a wide variety of new physical sensations.
If you are experiencing unfamiliar physical sensations during pregnancy, it is important to remember two things.
First of all, pregnancy is an ideal time to become more aware of what your body is saying to you. This will help you figure out the best strategy to deal with the physical discomforts involved. All of the discomforts of pregnancy can be handled through simple natural means, without resort to drugs that can harm the growing fetus.
Secondly, pregnancy is a good time to get out of the habit of taking a pill for every ache, pain, cold or flu. In fact, many drugs (even an aspirin or cold remedy) are not considered safe for use during pregnancy. If in doubt, check with your doctor about the safety of the medication in question.
During pregnancy your body produces a hormone called progesterone. This hormone has the effect of relaxing the smooth muscles of your small and large intestines. Thus food passes through your intestines more slowly. Also your growing uterus may press on and displace the intestines. Another major factor contributing to constipation is taking iron supplements.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Some suggest six to eight glasses of fluid a day. This fluid should consist of pure water, fruit juice or herbal teas.
- Eat food that is high in fibre such as fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Cut down or eliminate red meat which is very constipating. Chicken or fish can be eaten instead.
- One to two tablespoons of unsulphured blackstrap molasses in warm water once or twice a day is a reliable old remedy for constipation. Molasses is also high in iron and trace minerals. (Be sure to brush your teeth well after you take molasses.)
- Some women find that drinking eight ounces of prune juice daily keeps their bowels moving.
- A half to one cup of unrefined bran can be taken daily with whole grain cereal.
- Ground flax seed, two tablespoons in water twice, a day or metamucil (psyllium seed powder) without sugar are two mild laxatives that can be taken safely throughout pregnancy.
- Discontinue your iron tablets or switch to a less constipating brand or a liquid iron like floradix (available in health food stores). I also have had great success with NutriChem iron, which is completely non-constipating. Recent research has shown that iron supplements are not usually necessary during pregnancy. For more information see the chapter on iron.
- Walk or do some type of physical exercise every day. This promotes regular bowel movements.
- For some changing their position while sitting may help, i.e. the backless chairs where your knees are lower than your hips.
- When you are pregnant, the TIMING of your bowel movement changes. Never sit on the toilet for long periods of time or strain during bowel movements (this can contribute to the development of hemorrhoids). If the stool is not passing easily, force yourself to get off the toilet and go about your business until you really have to go and the stool will then pass more easily.