I find many of my patients are concerned that they are not going to feel well during their third trimester. They have heard all about the constipation, leg swelling, heartburn, difficulty sleeping and having to go to the bathroom all the time and are not looking forward for what is to come. While it is true that the third trimester can bring its own set of challenges, many women continue to feel good right up until they give birth. In today’s blog post I will go over natural tips to manage one of the biggest concerns, constipation
Causes of Constipation
No one wants to be constipated, but it is particularly “not fun” when you are 9 months pregnant. Constipation is so common in the third trimester because as the baby continues to grow, it results in the intestines being pushed to the back and sides of the abdominal cavity, reducing their ability to move properly. Evolution is also working against you. Transit time, the amount of time it takes for food to go from your mouth to your anus, slows to allow for you to maximally absorb nutrients before the waste is expelled. Finally, many women experience low iron in their third trimester, and iron supplementation frequently leads to constipation.
10 Tips to Naturally Manage Constipation
- Water- This is one you have probably heard before, but it is key. Make sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water/day.
- Avoid Spicy Foods- Spicy foods can cause constriction in the veins worsening constipation, and hemorrhoids.
- Squatty Potty- A Squatty Potty raises your feet up, creating an optimal angle for the intestines. This results in less straining with bowel movements and is key for hemorrhoid prevention.
- Prunes- Yes the old wives tale is true. 1-2 prunes/day can help regulate bowel movements.
- Liver Loving Foods- Foods that cause the production of bile encourage the elimination of wastes via normal bowel movements. Foods to include are: lemon and lemon water, beets and apple, arugula, and Swiss chard.
- Probiotics- Good bacteria, particularly the Bifidobacterium strain has been shown to increase the number of weekly bowel movements and helps soften the stool. Bonus: probiotics can help reduce the risk that your baby will have allergies and eczema.
- Fibre- Another well-known treatment for constipation. Fibre from the skins or fruits and vegetables is the ideal type during pregnancy. Aim for 7-12 servings of fruit and veggies/day.
- Magnesium- Magnesium Citrate is a common treatment for constipation. It is important to note that you should not take magnesium after 36 weeks gestation, as it can decrease the strength of uterine contractions, not what you want happening in labour!
- Deep Belly Breathing- In order for digestion to occur optimally, you have to be in a parasympathetic state (the opposite of what occurs when you are stressed). One way to get the body into parasympathetic is through deep belly breathing. Take 10 deep breaths, where your stomach goes out and your chest stays neutral, 3 times a day.
- Acupuncture- Specific points can helps to regulate bowel movements. It is important to see a qualified professional as certain acupuncture points are contraindicated in pregnancy.
I hope you found these tips helpful to reduce the strain of the third trimester
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