New DelhiZarafshan Shiraz
During pregnancy, many mothers-to-be experience symptoms of constipation that include infrequent bowel movements, abdominal pain, and hard stools. According to various reports, one in four pregnant women will experience constipation and other bowel problems at some point during their pre-motherhood journey.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Helai Gupta, Senior Consultant at Rosewalk Healthcare, suggested that expectant mothers should adopt the following nutritional strategies to solve the common problem in each trimester of pregnancy:
- First trimester: Many women take prenatal vitamins, supplements that contain daily vitamins and minerals needed before and during pregnancy. It is imperative to add high fiber food to counter this. Adding fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains to the meal is essential.
- Second semester: As the baby grows in the womb, the pressure on the digestive system increases. Focus on maintaining a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle by adopting some physical exercises recommended by your doctor, which create happy hormones while balancing your mental health.
- Third Quarter: Constipation usually starts in the third trimester due to hormonal fluctuations and the growing uterus. Where expectant mothers feel hungrier and eat larger meals. To aid digestion and prevent constipation, expectant mothers should choose smaller and 5-6 meals instead of large ones.
Dr Helai Gupta argued: “Always get advice from your doctor before making any major dietary changes during your pregnancy. Therefore, in each trimester expectant mothers can prevent constipation and maintain overall health and well-being.”
Reiterating that constipation is a common concern during pregnancy, affecting many mothers-to-be throughout the trimester, Dr T Lakhmi Bharathi, M.Sc Clinical Nutritionist and Dietetics at Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital in Koramangala, Bangalore, advised that while hormonal changes and an expanding uterus play a role, implementing the following targeted nutritional strategies can alleviate this discomfort –
- First trimester: During this phase, focus on high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These aid digestion and soften the stool. Hydration is vital. Adequate water intake prevents dehydration, a common cause of constipation.
- Second semester: Include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or kefir to support gut health. Balanced meals with moderate portions and regular meal times help regulate bowel movements. Prenatal iron supplements may contribute to constipation. consult your doctor for alternatives if needed.
- Third Quarter: Emphasize foods high in fiber and consider adding prunes, figs or flaxseeds known for their natural laxative properties. Regular physical activity, even mild exercises such as walking, promotes bowel movements and relieves constipation.
- Throughout Pregnancy: Avoid highly processed foods and excessive intake of iron supplements. Small, frequent meals reduce the workload on the digestive system. It is recommended that you consult a health care provider for guidance on safe pregnancy-specific laxatives or supplements.
And she concluded, “Remember, every pregnancy is unique. It is important to individualize dietary changes and seek professional advice to effectively manage constipation without compromising maternal or fetal health. By adopting these nutritional strategies throughout the trimesters, expectant mothers can relieve constipation and improve overall well-being throughout their pregnancy journey.”