Tips For Improving Pregnancy Constipation & Heartburn
Every pregnancy is so different and it's a time when a lot of the changes happening within your body are out of your control. From a growing bump, changes to your energy levels, and new food aversions. Two things that are common in pregnancy and that you can control are constipation and heartburn.
They are some of the more common and uncomfortable symptoms that women experience throughout pregnancy. Even if you’re not pregnant and get constipated, you’ll know it’s no fun and the same goes for the burning sensation in your chest known as heartburn.
So let us start off with constipation.
Causes for constipation during pregnancy can vary, but the most common are:
• Hormonal: Progesterone is one of the more dominant hormones during pregnancy. It slows down muscle contractions, including the muscles that surround our digestive systems. This can lead to a sluggish feeling after meals and irregular bowel movements.
• Changes to your diet: Nausea, food aversions, and cravings can impact the types of foods you choose during pregnancy. In the first trimester, morning sickness is quite common with 80% of pregnant women suffering to some degree. This often leads women to choose plain or 'beige' foods which are lower in fibre, reducing the amount of bulk needed to form a healthy stool.
• More pressure on the rectum as baby grows. The bigger baby gets = less space.
• Less activity and daily movement: If your energy levels have been impacted or if you're feeling less mobile into your third trimester.
Thankfully there are several things you can do to improve this.
1. Add 2 tbsp of chia into your breakfast or snack for more fibre.
2. Eat the rainbow. More plants = more fibre & improved gut health.
3. Add short 20 minute walks into your daily routine.
4. Get more water in. Still, sparkling and herbal teas. Add 1L to your normal water intake.
5. Add in yoga poses and stretches, specifically for opening the pelvis region.
Heartburn and indigestion
Throughout pregnancy, your body starts to produce varying amounts of different hormones. Two hormones that are produced in large amounts of are progesterone and relaxin. Their job is to relax smooth muscle tissues throughout your body, including those along your gastrointestinal tract.
As a result, food can often start to move more slowly through your system, resulting in a sluggish digestive system and symptoms that range from bloating to increased gas and heartburn.
Another common cause of heartburn is the added pressure of the growing baby, that adds pressure to your stomach.
Small changes to reduce heartburn:
1. Eat little and often - avoid large meals if you’re prone to heartburn and opt for smaller meals that contain protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
2. Sip on water throughout the day rather than large amounts at mealtimes.ks, processed carbohydrates (white bread is a major HB trigger for me), fatty fried foods and some citrus fruits.
3. Sip on water throughout the day rather than consuming large amounts at mealtimes.
4. Avoid eating too close to bedtime - aim to finish your last meal 2 hours before lying down in bed.
5. Chew your food well and eat slowly - eating on-the-go is a major contributor to heartburn. Enjoy your meals in a relaxed setting and over 15 minute period.
6. Apple cider vinegar in warm water, 15 minutes before a meal.
7. Unwind & relax - stress can also increase the likelihood of getting HB. Adding prenatal yoga, meditation, epsom salt baths and #acupuncture into your routine can help manage stress levels.
If either symptom persists, it's important to discuss with a medical professional that can advise you.