Constipation is a common discomfort that occurs in expectant mothers due to the hormone progesterone that slows down the movement of ingested food. To stop it from happening, this HerHaleness article suggests some natural laxatives that could work best during pregnancy.
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Studies have found that the Beverley-Travis natural laxative mixture is more effective than over-the-counter laxatives. To prepare it, you need to mix 1 cup each of currants, raisins, dates, figs, pitted prunes, and prune juice concentrate. Blend and mix well. Take 2 tbsp. twice daily, and slowly increase your dose. Do keep your doctor in the loop!
Constipation is a condition in which a person experiences infrequent bowel movements, less than three per week, and the stools are often very dry and dark in color. It is a very common condition during pregnancy.
Laxatives can be defined as any medicine or compound, which helps loosen the stool, thereby, stimulating bowel movement and relieving constipation. Most of the time, they are taken orally in the form of tablets, liquids, etc., whereas sometimes, they can be administered via the rectum, such as enema.
Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy
● Constipation in early pregnancy occurs because of the high production of a hormone named progesterone. Progesterone softens the muscles and tissues in the gastrointestinal tract, and thus, makes the process of digestion slow. Slow digestion leads to constipation in pregnant women.
● The second main reason is that doctors often recommend the expectant moms to take dietary supplements such as iron, to avoid anemia. These supplements can also cause constipation. Stress and a diet deficient in fiber can cause this condition too.
● Lastly, a pregnant woman’s physical activities are minimal, and if she is not doing any kind of exercises either, it can lead to constipation.
Importance of Natural Laxatives
It is often said that the use of laxatives during pregnancy should be avoided as far as possible. This is because their regular use, especially during pregnancy, can make the intestinal system of the woman dependent on them. This can result in intestinal cramping, which is really difficult to distinguish from preterm labor. They can also lead to dehydration, cause cramping in the uterus, and can also hasten labor pain. Thus, any kind of laxative taken during pregnancy can prove to be harmful for the mother as well as the baby. However, there are a few natural laxatives, which can be taken only after consulting a physician.
Safe Natural Laxatives for Pregnant Women
● Water is the best and the safest natural laxative for expectant women. Therefore, drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day will help prevent or provide relief from constipation.
●Figs and prunes or prune juice contain natural laxative ingredients. Prune juice is considered to be one of the safest laxatives, and it is often recommended by many doctors to pregnant women. It contains natural sugars such as fructose and sorbitol, which help the intestines in absorbing more fluids. This makes the stools softer, and hence, easy to eliminate.
● High-fiber foods should be consumed daily by pregnant women. The diet should comprise high-fiber foods (20 to 35 grams) such as beans, whole grains, bran, cereals, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and fresh fruits to help prevent constipation. Such a diet stimulates the intestines and is able to absorb more water. The stools, thus, do not dry out and can be eliminated from the body easily.
● Over-the-counter natural laxatives should be taken only after consulting your doctor. This is because not all them are safe for pregnant women. For example, castor oil can cause premature uterine contractions and therefore, should be strictly avoided. Also, mineral oils should be avoided because they block the absorption of nutrients in the body.
● Fybogel, consisting of ispaghula husk, is a natural, bulk-forming laxative. It should always be consumed with lots of water. When Fybogel comes in contact with fluids in the body, it increases the volume of gut content. This induces the muscles in the gut to quickly push out the contents in it. Fiber supplements such as FiberCon and Metamucil, and stool softeners such as Colace are considered safe during pregnancy.
● Senokot tablets, which contain natural vegetable laxative ingredient, are also considered harmless for a pregnant woman and her baby. However, before taking this medicine, she should consult her obstetrician for the appropriate dosage.
If the problem is caused due to iron supplements, then the doctor may reduce the prescription for iron. Apart from the aforementioned remedies, it is important for expectant mothers to perform moderate exercises on a daily basis, as this will help stimulate the bowels, and thereby, prevent constipation.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is purely for informative and educational purposes. Always consult with a licensed dietitian and a doctor before consuming any of the above medicines mentioned here.