Pregnancy can bring about a range of digestive and gastrointestinal issues that may make the experience challenging. These issues can vary from morning sickness to constipation and heartburn. Here’s how to cope with each of these common pregnancy-related concerns:
- Morning sickness, which is characterized by nausea and sometimes vomiting, can occur at any time of the day, not just in the morning.
- It is most common during the first trimester due to surging hormone levels.
- Typically, morning sickness improves or disappears between weeks 10 and 14 of pregnancy.
- Snacking on high-carb snacks like crackers can help, as they are easy to digest. Eating small, frequent meals and keeping snacks on hand is important to prevent an empty or overly full stomach.
- Bland foods are preferable, as greasy and spicy foods can worsen nausea.
- Some people find relief through wristbands designed to prevent seasickness or vitamin B6 supplements (consult your doctor first).
- Over-the-counter medications like Unisom in tablet form may provide relief, as they have been tested and considered safe during pregnancy. Antacids such as Zantac can also help.
- For severe cases of morning sickness, discuss with your doctor whether stronger medications are necessary.
- Constipation during pregnancy is common due to factors such as slowed intestinal movement caused by progesterone, pressure on the rectum from the growing baby, increased blood supply requiring more fluid, and iron supplements in prenatal vitamins.
- Constipation can lead to straining during bowel movements and the development of hemorrhoids.
- To combat constipation, increase your fiber intake through foods like cereals, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Fiber supplements can also help.
- Regular exercise can improve bowel motility.
- Stool softeners like Colace can be considered if lifestyle changes aren’t effective. Avoid laxatives during pregnancy.
- For hemorrhoids, use medicated pads and creams like Tucks and Preparation H, which are safe.
- Heartburn is more likely during the last trimester of pregnancy due to the growing fetus pushing on the stomach and the relaxation of the esophageal sphincter by the hormone progesterone.
- It is usually a nuisance rather than a significant concern.
- To alleviate heartburn, consume small, low-fat meals that empty quickly from the stomach.
- Avoid spicy, acidic, and greasy foods, as they can exacerbate symptoms.
- Chewing gum can help stimulate saliva, which neutralizes acid.
- Maintain an elevated head position to prevent acid from flowing back into the esophagus.
- Over-the-counter antacids like Tums, Maalox, and Mylanta are typically safe during pregnancy. Medications like Zantac can also reduce acid production.
- For more severe cases, prescription drugs may be required.
While these digestive issues can be uncomfortable during pregnancy, most of them can be managed with simple lifestyle changes, over-the-counter remedies, or medications recommended by your healthcare provider.