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Physical Changes In Pregnancy - Bowel Changes

Bowel changes are common in pregnancy. There may be points of regularity that change quickly into constipation and back to diahrrhea. Just when you feel you have figured your body out, it changes again. Changes in hormones, dietary changes, and bodily changes can drastically affect the bowels.


Constipation

At least half of all women are constipated at some point during pregnancy. Changes in hormones slow food's passage through your body. During the last part of pregnancy, your uterus may press on your rectum. This may add to the problem. Symptoms of constipation include hard, dry stools, bloating, and straining. You may also have gas or stomach pain.


Some things may help: 

  • Drink lots of liquids. Include fruit juices, such as prune juice. 

  • Eat foods high in fiber, such as raw fruits and vegetables and bran cereals. 

  • Exercise each day—just walking is fine. 

  • Take a good quality probiotic

  • Take digestive enzymes

  • Take magnesium citrate daily


Diarrhea

 Changes in hormones can also lead to diarrhea. The hormone relaxin that contributes to loosen the pelvis to prepare the birth can also relax the intestines leading to diarrhea. Diarrhea is not usually harmful but can cause influx in electrolytes and can cause dehydration. Dehydration can lead to contractions.


Some things may help:

  • Increase hydration

  • Eat the brat diet (bannanas, applesauce, toast, and rice)

  • Increase electrolytes

  • Take activated charcoal

  • If you are on magnesium, stop taking it


Unusal Patterns in Stool

Changes in color in your stool may occur throughout pregnancy as you consume different types of vitamins and minerals to help support your pregnancy. Different types of foods such as beets or leafy greens may change color and consitency.


Very dark stools can occur during pregnancy, but if you are concerned by color or frequency, always reach out to your health care provider.


Blood in Your Stool

Blood in your stool may occur from straining when constipated.Hemorrohids or anal fissures can occur due to the increased pressure on your intestines as your baby grows and you the blood volume increases. The amount is usually small. The best way to reduce blood in your stool is by reducing or limiting strainging on the toilet. It is always best to reach out to your health care provider and notify them of any bleeding.


Loose Stools at the End of Pregnancy and During Labor

As labor approaches, one of the signs of labor is frequent and soft stools or diarrhea. Increase in relaxin and other labor hormones cause the body to prepare for labor by eliminating frequently.


It is also very common to have loose stools in the beginning of labor. It is common while pushign to have a bowel movement. The pressure from your baby's head will cause elmination as the baby passes through the vaginal canal. This is the body's way of colonizing your baby with their first bacteria and immune support. It is common for your health provider to descretly remove stool quickly and without notice.


First Bowel Movement Postpartum

For many woment his can be very intimidating. There are many ways to make the process of the first bowel movement after baby not feel so scary. Hydration is key, the more water mom consumes, the more likely to have a more comfortable experience. The sooner the better, adding high fiber foods are helpful in getting the bowels to move. Adding a little magensium at night is a great natural alternative to stool softners.


Take Away

Your bowels will change. As the body changes with pregnancy, so do the bowels. Keep in mind every pregnancy is different. The important thing to focus on is knowing what is your normal. Speak with your health care prvoider if you have any questions or concerns you have as your body changes.


Tell us about your experience in pregnancy, share with the community.

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