You are really at the tail end of your pregnancy now! In this blog I provide you with some helpful tips to get through one of the most common problems women have at this stage of their pregnancy – constipation.
Your baby has now grown to the size of an iceberg lettuce and is pretty much fully developed; the next few weeks will be purely about plumping her up. She will start moving into the birth canal to be ready for delivery. This means that you will be able to breath a bit more easily, but the pressure on your bladder and bowel will increase.
Constipation and urgently needing to wee are among the biggest concerns at this stage of pregnancy, so this is the time to focus on your fibre intake. Make sure you include plenty of insoluble fibre in your diet – the skin on fruit and vegetables, plus the pips, seeds and stringy bits – as opposed to soluble fibre, which is the fleshy part of fruit and vegetables, and bread, rice and pasta. Tips I give my soon-to-be mums are to leave the skin on fruits and vegetables wherever possible, eat a piece of fruit or vegie sticks at every snack, and include vegetables or a salad at lunch AND dinner. Also, try to increase your intake of wholegrains and choose higher fibre, unrefined options such as brown rice and multigrain bread. These less refined wholegrains also contain more iron, which is another advantage at this stage. If you are feeling constipated, prunes, sultanas, figs and other dried fruit are particularly rich in insoluble fibre and can help to get your bowels going.
I know that you have started weeing more, but you also need to drink more water, not less. Being dehydrated will make your constipation worse because you’ll end up with hard dehydrated poo, instead of soft, easier to evacuate motions.
Also, urinary tract infections can be another inconvenience at this stage and are more common when you are dehydrated. Carry a bottle of water with you at all times, and keep sipping away. Your wee should be clear or the colour of sauvignon blanc – not a straw-coloured chardonnay. Aim to get through a minimum of two litres of water by the end of each day, although many of you will actually need more than this. Remember, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so drink before you get thirsty.
Whenever I think about constipation, I think about the ‘three Fs’: fibre, fluid and fitness. Exercise is great for constipation as it helps to get the muscles around the bowel moving. A couple of classes a week is not enough to prevent constipation when you have a 3kg weight sitting on your bowels. Aim to exercise daily to reduce constipation, even if it just means going for a 20-minute walk.
I’ve put together a 7 day pregnancy meal plan to help you eat more healthily during pregnancy. All you have to do is click here to download.
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