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Monday, February 22, 2010

"I'm good, but I wish I could poop the way I used to..."

It is funny to me that whenever I see anyone that I haven't see for a while, they always ask "How are you feeling?". And it is not necessarily funny that they ask (they are just being sweet and polite), but my reaction is always funny to me. Of course, I typically answer the obligatory "Oh, I am feeling pretty good" or "Good, but a bit tired". In my head, I laugh at myself for telling another little white lie. No one really expects you to run through the little aches and pains that typically accompany pregnancy and no one ever really wants to hear that your pipes are running slower than usual. Just once, I would like to say "Good, except I wish I could poop the way I used to" or "Good, except the lower back pain I am encountering whenever I stand longer than 20 minutes" or "Super, but I wish I could get some sleep without having to go to the bathroom 3 times in the middle of the night"....

Funny though, several months ago, I went to a concert with my husband and some friends and one of the girls was late in her first trimester. It was our first time meeting, and I thought she was hilarious and refreshingly honest. Like me, this woman eats very healthy and, as a result, is used to a comfortable level of regularity. When I (politely) asked her how she was feeling so far, one of her first complaints was that she felt nauseous, but the worst thing was how she wishes she could go like she used to! Oh, I think of that story now, and think that woman is braver than I!

The truth is, that more than half of pregnant women experience constipation. So you are not alone! Much of it is due to the increased iron supplementation. However, it is also caused by the natural relaxation of your intestines, which causes everything to move a bit slower. Another thing that may contribute is that cup of coffee that you may have given up that used to help you go more reliably. Great, so it is a normal part of many what can we do to help move things along?
  • Eat high fiber diet. Especially fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Prunes and dried fruits can also be very helpful. Dark leafy greens are high in magnesium and will also be helpful.
  • Avoid constipating foods. Maybe just for a while, pass on the cheese and bananas until you feel better.
  • Drink a lot of fluids (mostly water). I'll admit, this is my pain point. Part of me dreads drinking too much at this point of the pregnancy because I am literally going to the ladies room every 30-45 minutes. But, not only is the fluid good for constipation, it is good for a lot of other things too. So drink lots of water (and prune juice if you are already constipated). Hot water in the morning can also be helpful.
  • Relax and manage stress. Stress, worry, and anxiety can contribute to constipation.
  • Eat good fat and oils. Avocados, olive oil, nuts to name a few. Fish oil and flax also can help move things along for you.
  • Watch your iron supplements. Take iron in small doses spread throughout the day if you need to supplement. Experiment with other types (floradix or brewer's yeast for example).
  • Watch your calcium intake. Calcium can be constipating. So try to get it in high fiber forms (like broccoli). Eating too much dairy (high calcium and low fiber) can also be constipating.
  • Exercise. Nothing intense. Just a quick walk during a 10 minute break at work, maybe some yoga and/or stretching before bed.

So I hope you have enjoyed this post or at least found it useful. Constipation is not your friend, and if it gets really bad it can lead to other problems like hemorrhoids--which is really not pleasant to bring up at the work picnic. So, truly do not ignore it. If you have really bad problems, bring it up to your doctor or midwife before turning to any laxatives or things of that nature, because many of them are not safe in pregnancy.

In health and wellness,


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