Taking iron supplements during pregnancy can also cause constipation so it is a good idea to make sure that you are eating plenty of iron-rich foods to avoid the need to take supplements.
What are the signs of constipation?
- Greater than 4 days between each bowel movement
- Hard stools which are difficult to pass and may cause bleeding of the rectum
- Lower abdominal pain
- The feeling that not all faeces have been excreted
How to treat and prevent constipation
There are ways of treating constipation without the use of medical treatment, below are some top tips on how to treat and prevent constipation without having to get a prescription from your doctor.
Fibre is vital in helping to prevent constipation as it helps food pass through the digestive system more easily; the guideline daily amount (GDA) for fibre is 24g (or 18g if using a different measure of fibre). Foods which are high in fibre include:
- fruits and vegetables
- high fibre starchy carbohydrates (e.g. foods which contain wholewheat, wholegrain wholemeal in the title)
Below is an example of how to achieve the GDA for fibre
| Meal or snack || Type of food || Fibre content (g) |
Porridge made with 45g oats
| Morning snack ||Apple||1.8|
Egg and cress sandwich on multiseed bread
1 medium carrot (sliced)
1 medium pepper (sliced)
| Afternoon snack ||2 slices of fruit loaf||2.8|
| Evening meal||Chili con carne with rice || 8.1|
|TOTAL FIBRE INTAKE FOR THE DAY||27.1g|
In order to help prevent constipation you should aim to keep up with your fluid intake, the recommended intake for fluids is about 6-8 glasses a day, but more is needed during pregnancy. The amount needed will vary from person to person, but is likely to be at least one or two extra glasses a day and you will need more if the weather is hot and when you are physically active. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that you need water and you are already a little dehydrated when thirst kicks in, so make sure you drink if you are thirsty. Click here for more information on healthy hydration.
- © British Nutrition Foundation 2011