Constipation in pregnancy
It could be that you are into your second or third pregnancy. Also, you could be just expecting your first child. It makes no difference. You remain awed by the rapid way in which your body begins to transform itself. It is preparing for the arrival of the baby! Now, some changes feel simple to deal with, while others tend to cause concern. One such issue is constipation in pregnancy.
Why does constipation occur in early pregnancy?
Not every woman suffers from constipation during the early months of pregnancy. Sometimes, the onset happens during an advanced state of pregnancy too. It is because the expanding uterus is placing too much pressure on the bowels.
Now, are you experiencing constipation in the first trimester itself? If yes, rest assured that the culprits are your hormones. Their levels are fluctuating. The study conducted by GC (Gastroenterology Clinics) of North America in 2016 concludes that both hormones and the physical changes in your body, cause constipation.
Progesterone is an essential hormone within your body. It is produced by ovaries and its levels increase during pregnancy. Although you might grumble about it, higher levels are safe for your baby! This hormone is responsible for thickening the lining of your uterus. We refer to this lining as endometrium. Think of what this means for the growing embryo/fetus. It remains safe and protected within a thick-walled house until it is time to be born.
Unfortunately, the increase in progesterone levels causes the intestinal function to slow down too. Your stool is unable to pass through the bowels rapidly and smoothly. Additionally, the large intestine (colon) absorbs large amounts of water from the fecal matter. Naturally, it becomes bulkier, which further enhances the problem. You worsen your problem if you are on prenatal vitamins too. Maybe, you do not have sufficient iron in your body. Therefore, the doctor has advised you to use them. However, they will cause constipation.
Are constipation and diarrhea signs of pregnancy?
An alternative condition is a diarrhea. Here, the stools are loose and watery. If you have several bowel movements a day, and for several days, you may become dehydrated, which is not safe for the fetus, or you. According to studies conducted by the Open Forum Infectious Diseases (affiliated with the U.S. National Institutes of Health) in early 2019, untreated diarrhea during pregnancy can result in adverse outcomes. The risk for delivering a child, who is small for gestational age, increases by 20%.
Regardless, diarrhea is a common condition during pregnancy too. The culprits could be hormones, or even the changes taking place within your body. Sometimes, there may be no link between your pregnancy and the onset of diarrhea. The condition may show up, just because you are suffering from an underlying infection or bowel disorder. It should suffice to tell you that diarrhea on its own is not a sign of pregnancy. It is the same with constipation. This condition is not a sign of pregnancy either. After all, anybody can suffer from these conditions, anytime during their lifetimes. Thus, you may view either of these conditions as something akin to the side effects of the state of pregnancy.
Just like progesterone, there are other helpful hormones within your body. They could be individuals in functioning or exist as a group. One group is prostaglandins. They are responsible for diverse functions, including helping the uterus to contract and relax. At the same time, they enhance movements within the digestive tract too. Therefore, what will happen if the levels of prostaglandins increase during pregnancy? They push waste matter so quickly through the digestive tract that the outcome is diarrhea. Sometimes, the usage of synthetic prostaglandins for inducing labor causes this condition too.
Concerning infectious diarrhea, different types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites may be responsible. You will know when you display symptoms of nausea and vomiting, fever, chills, lightheadedness/dizziness, or bloody stools. It all happens because of consuming contaminated food or water.
As for bowel disorders, they show up if you have been a victim of a digestive disturbance for several years. These disturbances include celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis or overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. True, the names sound tremendously scientific and may mean nothing to you. However, if you are not a sufferer, why worry? The doctor will let you know if you need to know!
Can constipation cause vomiting during pregnancy?
In general, nausea and vomiting is an accepted condition during pregnancy. We refer to it as morning sickness. A group of researchers, who came together in 2016, to conduct an individual study on this topic, discovered that around 70% of expectant mothers’ experience morning sickness. Furthermore, this affects them both physically and psychologically. Some women feel sick during day time while others face traumatic nights. Some women are lucky enough not to experience it throughout their pregnancies!
In general, morning sickness strikes within six to nine weeks of pregnancy. You may realize that you are indeed pregnant, only after confronting morning sickness! Concerning the cause, doctors believe that hormonal fluctuations may be responsible for morning sickness. However, constipation may be a culprit too.
The discomfort in the stomach while experiencing constipation can bring on feelings of nausea. In turn, vomiting occurs. However, hormones and constipation are not the sole trigger factors of nausea and vomiting. There are others too. For instance, you may be hypersensitive to particular odors, heat, the taste of spicy foods, etc.
Should you be concerned about your bouts of nausea and vomiting?
Well, if constipation is the cause, you will have to consult your doctor. Otherwise, for the majority of pregnant women, it is a normal phenomenon. Similarly, you may find that you cannot keep any liquids down at all. You may be unable to urinate well or pass dark urine. Your heart may be racing. Also, you could be feeling lightheaded all the time. Such symptoms should prompt you to approach your healthcare provider. Admittedly, you are suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum or excessive vomiting. You are at risk for severe dehydration. In turn, your unborn child will suffer.
Can constipation cause bleeding in pregnancy?
As mentioned earlier, constipation is a common occurrence during pregnancy. You will always find yourself straining to move your bowels. It is as if there is a blockage in your stomach. There is pain and bloating too. However, there are simple ways to tackle this situation. You can use home remedies or take your healthcare provider’s help. You need to worry only when bloody stools, severe pain, or weight loss become evident. Long-Lasting constipation has resulted in these symptoms. The common significant symptom is stools containing blood.
A group of researchers focused on the occurrence of hemorrhoids in pregnant women. They conducted the study in 2018. The Journal of Coloproctology sponsored it, which targeted women going through these gestational weeks – 11, 12, 13, 14, 24 or 37. They were experiencing external hemorrhoids or peri-anal complications. Many of them were suffering from constipation too. In other words, there was a definite link between constipation, hemorrhoids/peri-anal complications.
I know, it must sound like Greek and Latin to you! Well, let us figure it out in more uncomplicated language. You are well aware that the rectum and anus are the last parts of the digestive system. Well, the veins in this region become inflamed and swollen. They could be inside the anus itself. They might be hiding under the skin surrounding the anus. We call these abnormal veins, hemorrhoids. A commoner term is piles.
The hemorrhoids within the anus are internal. Those, around the anus, are external. Unfortunately, it can cause itching around the anal area. Then again, sitting postures tend to cause pain. Even your bowel movements are bound to be painful. You will also experience rectal bleeding, wherein the blood is bright red. Sometimes, there is a blood clot within external hemorrhoid. Then, the pain will be excessive.
Now, what are the causes of hemorrhoids?
The most probable reason is having constipation during your pregnancy. You regularly strain yourself while having bowel movements. Unfortunately, it harms the lower part of the intestine. Even your condition of pregnancy is a risk factor for getting piles/hemorrhoids. The growing fetus presses down upon the lower rectum. Thus, it results in rectal bleeding. The doctor will decide how to resolve this issue after a thorough examination. The final resort is surgery.
Do note the difference between rectal bleeding and light spotting. The latter occurs around 10-14 days after conception. Then, you may notice several blood spots on your innerwear, which is because the embryo is attaching itself to the wall of the uterus. It is preparing itself for further growth. It is a sign that you are pregnant. Therefore, you need to worry.
Can constipation cause fever in pregnancy?
Have you noticed how your skin ‘warms up’ when your bodily systems begin misbehaving? In other words, you are succumbing to fever. Therefore, there is a good reason to wonder if constipation during pregnancy causes fever too. The answer is definite (No). Usually, it cannot make your body temperature rise. However, it could have an underlying cause for its appearance, which results in fever. For instance, there could be an advent of harmful microbes into the body. They cause infections, which is a good enough reason for the high temperature as a company.
Let anything be the cause of your fever. Ensure that a doctor attends to it immediately. A study sponsored by the Annals of Epidemiology Journal in 2017 suggests the same. Untreated fever can result in newborns revealing neural tube defects. The risk is specifically higher during the periconceptional period. Neural tube defects refer to abnormalities showing up in the unborn fetus’ brain, spinal cord, or backbone. Periconceptional period refers to the time from just before conception to early pregnancy. Fortunately, the intake of folic acid in the requisite amounts can prevent fever from hurting your child or you.
Why does constipation occur after surgery?
It could be that you are unable to undergo a regular delivery procedure. Then, the only option is surgery. It could be for an ectopic pregnancy, where the fetus attaches to the uterus wall from outside it. Thus, there could be any reason for you to face a surgical procedure. However, despite everything going according to plan, you may still feel troubled by constipation. There could be several reasons for this to happen.
To illustrate, during a surgical procedure, anesthesia comes into play. It is for putting the patient to sleep. However, it also tends to paralyze the muscles within the digestive tract. It follows that waste matter finds it quite difficult to move along the intestinal tract. The prescription of pain-relief medications after surgery only serves to compound the problem. These medications are strong and cause the side effect of constipation.
Inactivity, or too much of bed rest after surgery, is also an issue.
Finally, there is the matter of food and drink. As per the doctor’s orders, you may have to survive on minimal amounts of fluid and solid food. It suffices to interfere with the normal process of elimination.
Fortunately, a study conducted in August 2019 has found a solution to this problem. The European Journal of Oncology Nursing sponsored the study. This research suggests that abdominal massage can work magic on decreasing the effects of severe constipation. The massage will relieve pain, bloating, etc.
In conclusion, even mild constipation can turn into a severe issue during pregnancy. Particularly, if not attended to within time. However, it is a resolvable condition. Maybe, the best thing would be to request suitable counsel from your healthcare provider. Let this individual guide you in managing it. Above all, adhere to an appropriate dietary regimen.
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