A question from a fellow pregnant lady:
"Hi Anna. I'm pregnant and due around the same time as you. In the last couple of weeks, I began to suffer from very infrequent bowel movements and an uncomfortable feeling in my lower belly. I knew this is a common problem during pregnancy, but somehow didn't think it would happen to me because I've never suffered from it. Are there any changes I can make in my diet in order to improve my condition?"
You're right - constipation is very common during pregnancy. This delicate problem isn't discussed often, yet many pregnant women find that it makes their life extremely uncomfortable. The hormonal changes in the pregnant woman's body make her bowels move more slowly, and the growing uterus puts pressure on the intestine - two major factors that contribute to constipation during pregnancy. Iron supplements might cause constipation as well. Also, some pregnant women often don't feel like eating much, if they are suffering from nausea, and accompanying tiredness may prevent regular exercise - add all this up, and you'll see that you shouldn't be surprised at all.
Without treatment, constipation can become chronic and cause hemorrhoids, which is not at all pleasant, to say the least. That's why you are wise to pay attention to this problem.
You probably know all the usual advice - eat a fiber-rich diet, drink plenty, try to exercise regularly if you can - and indeed it's all very important. I would encourage you not to use laxatives, which only provide temporary relief and don't solve the problem. There are some natural fiber supplements available, but I truly think that eating plenty of vegetables, whole grains and fruit in your diet is both healthier and more effective. Some foods are known to gently stimulate the bowel, such as prunes and ripe tomatoes.
I will also suggest a natural remedy, which my husband told me about a few weeks ago, when I noticed similar symptoms. In the morning, right after you get up, take a tablespoon of cold-pressed olive oil with 6-7 drops of natural lemon juice. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is the best, but bottled is alright too. It's important that you do this before you have eaten anything, and if you can hold off about an hour before you have your breakfast, that's great.
You might feel improvement within a few days, or a week or two - depends on how serious your condition is and how long you have been suffering from constipation. Don't be discouraged if you don't experience immediate relief - it isn't meant to act as a laxative, but rather as a sort of "booster" to your digestive system. I must admit I fail to explain how exactly it works, but it does. In any case, preserve in this practice daily for three months, and after that continue once a week as a preventive measure. It's perfectly safe and natural, and olive oil is good for you in other ways beside constipation relief.
I wish you a happy and easy pregnancy, and a healthy baby!