"Did you know that hemorrhoids are a permanent condition?" These were the words first spoken by my gastroenterologist some 13 years ago. I'd been having some problems with my digestion and this was his opening volley to get me to agree to at least try drinking water. Fast forward a few years. I was pregnant and digestively challenged. Hemorrhoids were all I could think about at that point and I was scared sh*tless. I knew that constipation was a risk of pregnancy, so I got help — you can, too. Here's what to do if you're having trouble pooping during pregnancy.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) dedicates a significant amount of time and funds researching constipation. It's an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy that is not only uncomfortable, but it can, in rare cases, pose significant dangers to the mother if untreated, according to the Global Library of Women's Medicine. ACOG has a number of remedies listed on their site ranging from increasing your water intake to eating fiber-rich foods, to taking a stool softener.
Up to a quarter of all pregnant women will experience constipation at some point in their pregnancy, and it may last until well after you've given birth, according to Obstetrics and Gynecology. Just thinking about postpartum constipation gives me the chills. For me, I was constipated with a near fourth degree tear. It felt like rock hard lightning was trying to make its way out of my body on a road covered with broken glass and open wounds. I wouldn't wish my experience on my worst enemy. Therefore, I have sought answers for what to do if you're having trouble pooping during pregnancy, so you can hopefully prevent the horror that is postpartum constipation.
The ACOG noted on their website that the best offense against constipation is a good pre-game plan. Fill your diet with water and fiber dense fruits and veggies, healthy fats, and stay hydrated. The organization explained that the water and fiber work together to move your waste through your body and the muscle contractions that occur to move the food down through your body work best when they're full of the scrubbing action of fiber and the fluidity of water. They make the job easier by requiring less force than unhealthy foods that become sticky in the intestine.
The Mayo Clinic gives similar advice, but the website also advocated exercise as a means of easing constipation. It's essentially working with gravity as opposed to working against it. Think of the path your food is taking throughout your system — it's all down and out once you've eaten it. Where it gets stalled are those twists and turns where a little time on your feet might help, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Their website suggested taking 10 to 15 minute walks several times per day. For me, I found that deep squats and lunges were what got my motor running back on track.
For more severe cases of constipation, ACOG suggested the use of over-the-counter medications like bulk forming laxatives (think Metamucil) or stool softeners like Colace, but only under a doctor's close supervision. Even if most of them are generally considered safe as per the guidance of Canadian Family Physicians.
I hate drinking water, but let me tell you, choking down some H2O when you'd rather have darjeeling is not so bad when you consider the alternative is permanent hemorrhoids and a terrifying postpartum trip to the loo — walking and water with some salad seems pretty darn alluring in comparison. If that's not working, call your provider. There's no need to suffer.
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