Updated: Nov 23, 2022
Let's understand how our digestive system works. What you eat directly goes to your stomach, then the stomach sends it to the small intestine also called as small bowel where all the nutrients are absorbed from the food you consumed(now you know, what happens when you eat junk or processed food). Your intestine is trying to absorb nutrients from the food you ate.
Then, the remains are sent to the larger intestine also called as large bowel also referred to as the colon where the water absorption takes place, and this is where your stools get the volume. Then it gets collected in the rectum, where the muscles of the rectum hold the stool until your body is ready to pass it through the anus.
Now that you know the basics of how the digestive pipeline is designed, any blockage in the pipeline causes stress and discomfort. And remember your colon(digestive pipe) is never empty! This means there is always some waste being collected, The colon is always working to collect the waste, and it contains bacteria that aid this process.
Bowel movement takes anywhere between 12 to 48 hours. That means whatever you ate first will be digested first (first in first out system), whenever your body is ready, stool from the rectum pipe is transited through the anus.
So, now what is constipation?
Constipation literally means a high level of constraint or restriction.
Here what happens is, that when the stool or the waste material is in the large intestine for a long, the water is absorbed continuously, and it becomes hard, dry, and difficult to slide through.
This is when you feel bloated, feeling difficult to pass the stool because it is hard and you are unable to, when you push hard, sometimes the layers of the rectum are hurt and you can see blood in the stools.
Constipation can also be caused due to a weak pelvic floor. Meaning the muscles are weak and are not able to push the movement effectively.
Note: constipation is not the only reason for blood in stools. You have to consult a doctor if you are facing this to rule out any other issues.
Constipation during pregnancy
Pregnancy causes changes in hormones, and progesterone levels in the body also cause the muscles to relax, preparing your body for the stretch to accommodate the new guest.
This causes the intestines to relax and may not push the stools as strongly as before. The same reason that digestion slows down in your body. You tend to drink more water, you cannot eat the same quantity as before in one go, you might be eating frequently, and you may feel that your bowel is not empty even after your bowel movement.
And not everyone passes stool every day. Three to four times a week is considered normal, but if you are not able to pass the stool for nearly 72 hours at a stretch then you are constipated.
Listen, you need not worry about the baby because constipation does not affect your baby. Your baby is safe inside the amniotic sac. But remember, you are NOT supposed to push every time you go to the toilet.
Even prenatal medications and fetal weight can lead to constipation in some women. If you feel that you are constipated after you started taking medications then let your health care provider know about it to change the medication.
If you are constipated before your pregnancy, you are likely to experience constipation during pregnancy and it can continue after pregnancy too. If constipation is not treated, it can lead to anal fissures, and it can be painful.
These days constipation has become a common issue. But that does not mean it is normal. You have to be treated for this.
The major reason could be our lifestyle habits. Most of us are not mobile and work just by moving our fingers.
What can you do to ease constipation during pregnancy?
You have to be active throughout your pregnancy to aid the muscles to do their job easily unless you are asked not to do any physical activity due to any medical condition.
You can practice yoga or simple exercises, including walking as a daily routine.
Include fiber content in your diet, so that it can aid the bowel movement in the large intestine.
Keep yourself hydrated. Helps hydrate the stool to pass through.
You can raise your legs with the help of a short stool to help you squat slightly when you use western toilets. This position eases bowel movement.
Include fresh fruits in your diet.
Maintain a time slot for your food.
Limit the consumption of caffeine
Sitz bath can help you when you are constipated.
Try to change your food options instead of opting for medications.
Drink more water if you are including millets in your diet.
You can check 10 exercises you can safely do in your pregnancy.
Don’ts during constipation
Avoid too many dairy products in a single day.
Do not consume any laxatives without consultation.
Avoid sleeping immediately after food.
Avoid heavy meals at night.
Avoid alcohol and smoking.
Watch the complete session on constipation here.
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Tell us how do you manage your digestion issues.