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Pregnancy and Constipation

Any woman, who has experienced pregnancy, knows that those 9 months are challenging. As the fetus grows and hormone levels change the mother to be has increased discomfort. One common complaint of pregnancy is constipation. For most expecting mothers constipation develops in the third trimester.

Why does constipation occur in pregnant woman?
As the fetus competes with the gastrointestinal tract for space in the abdominal cavity, the pregnant woman can experience discomfort such as constipation and hemorrhoids. To offset these discomforts, the pregnant woman should perform regular exercise and consume more fluids and fiber rich foods.
Constipation occurs because of three main reasons: the growth of the fetus impinges on the uterus causing great pressure on the bowel, a reduction in gut motility and limited physical activity.
A common problem associated with constipation is hemorrhoids. A more severe case of constipation can lead to hemorrhoid bleeding. Straining can lead to hemorrhoids, which are already more likely to occur during pregnancy because of other body changes. The weight of the fetus and the downward pressure on the veins also may lead to the development of hemorrhoids during this period.

How can a pregnant woman prevent constipation?
The dietary implication is a fiber rich diet. Fiber acts to soften stools, provide bulk and regulate colon transit time. The daily adequate intake for fiber during pregnancy is 28 grams a day. Dietary Fiber is the primary way to prevent constipation in pregnant woman. Fiber is a dietary essential.

High Fiber Foods include: Fruits such as: apples, banana, berries, oranges, nectarines, peaches, pears, mangoes, and tangerines. Vegetables such as: asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, green beans, green pepper, onions, peas, potatoes with skin, snow peas, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. Starches such as: whole grain breads, bran muffins, whole wheat crackers or crisp breads, whole grain or bran cereals, oatmeal, oat bran, grits, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.

In addition to fiber, water and other decaffeinated beverages need to be consumed on a regular basis. We recommend that during pregnancy 8 cups of fluids should be consumed. Adding water to the diet helps to ensure softer stools that are easier to pass and eliminates the discomfort and pain associated with constipation and hemorrhoids. A high fiber diet in addition to adequate fluid intake tends to prevent and counteract constipation and hemorrhoids.

When high fiber foods cannot be consumed the American Dietetic Association recommends the use of fiber supplements. These include natural fiber concentrated powders like Regularity Plus, Fiber Supreme, Supreme Flax 50/50, CVF and Clear 2 Go, which can be obtained from ND Labs Inc at 888-2- ND-LABS or by clicking here. One tablespoon of ND Labs Fibers provides 7 grams of dietary fiber made from a balanced blend of fruits and vegetables. The fibers can be taken in juice or used in cooking or baking. For those who do not like powders ND Labs Inc also has special high fiber cookies such as Chips To Go, which contains 5 grams of dietary fiber in each large 1 oz cookie.

For sampling and information on our Fiber line of products and other ND Labs products, please contact: 516-612-4900.

By: Edna Lam, Nutritionist