Troubleshooting in pregnancy!
During pregnancy, you may have to make changes to your diet to help ease some of the common symptoms such as constipation and morning sickness.
During pregnancy, the body produces higher levels of the hormone “progesterone” (hormonal changes). This hormone can relax the muscles in the digestive tract, including the muscles that move food through the intestines. This can slow down the digestive process and lead to constipation. Later in pregnancy, as the uterus grows, it can put pressure on the intestines and make it harder for food to move through the digestive system. Constipation combined with straining can also lead to hemorrhoids. Fun times!
Tips to soften that stool include*:
- Drink plenty of fluids: Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day to help soften stools and make them easier to pass.
- Eat a high fiber diet: Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet. These foods are high in fiber and can help keep your bowel movements regular.
- Try adding some flaxseed to the diet, gradually building up to 1 tablespoon per day.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help stimulate bowel movements and relieve constipation. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, such as walking.
- If you need to poo, don’t put it off. This can worsen symptoms.
- When you are ready to go, it can help to place a footstool under your feet, so that your knees are higher than your hips. Lean forwards, resting your elbows on your knees – and relax.
*This advice applies to non -pregnant women too!
If you are still experiencing constipation despite these efforts, talk to your doctor. They may recommend a stool softener or laxative that is safe to use during pregnancy.
It is common for pregnant women to experience nausea and vomiting during the first few weeks of pregnancy. This is often referred to as “morning sickness” although it can occur at any time of the day.
The exact cause of morning sickness is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Specifically, the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is believed to play a role in causing nausea and vomiting.
While morning sickness can be uncomfortable, it is generally considered to be a normal part of pregnancy and is not usually a cause for concern. However, in some cases, severe or persistent nausea and vomiting (a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum) can occur, which may require medical treatment.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, but here are some tips that may help:
- Eat small, frequent meals: Try to eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. This can help prevent your stomach from becoming too empty, which can trigger nausea.
- Stay hydrated: sip water regularly throughout the day as vomiting can cause dehydration. If you are vomiting a lot, a sports drink that contains some sugar, salt and electrolytes will help replace what your body has lost and provide some energy
- Ginger: although it is not conclusive, there is evidence to suggest that consuming ginger can help with nausea during pregnancy.
- Avoid triggers: Certain foods, smells, or activities may trigger nausea. Pay attention to what triggers your morning sickness and try to avoid those things.
- Eat what you can: something is always better than nothing, so eat what you can, when you can.
- Get fresh air: Stuffy or hot environments can make nausea worse. Open windows, turn on a fan, or step outside for fresh air.
- If your morning sickness is severe and interfering with your daily life, talk to your doctor. They may recommend medication or other treatments to help manage your symptoms.
Remember: morning sickness is a normal part of pregnancy and typically improves after the first trimester. If you have concerns about your symptoms or if they are severe, talk to your doctor.
Clinical Dietitian – Nutritionist, MSc