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Constipation

Symptoms: 

Difficult and infrequent bowel movements.   The passage of hard stools and abdominal discomforts or pain.       

Why it happens: 

Due to the rise in progesterone and delayed gastric motility.  Diets low in fiber and lack of physical activity also contribute to constipation.   Past medical history of constipation and Iron supplementation are risk factors.   

Relief Measures: 

Goal is to improve discomforts of abdominal pain, nausea and poor appetite and prevent potential problems due to constipation such as development of bleeding hemorrhoid or anal fissures.  

  1. Eat a high fiber diet-  Approximately 25 to 30 grams a day of dietary fiber is needed to prevent constipation. High fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, breakfast cereals, whole-grain breads, prunes, and bran.  Or add 2-4 TBSP Flax seed or psyllium supplements.   

  2. Ensure adequate hydration- 8 to 12 cups of liquid daily in combination with a high fiber diet can provide enough bulk to promote regular bowel movement.

  3. Exercise routinely- Regular walking, swimming and other moderate exercises can help stimulate bowel activity.

  4. Decrease, change, or eliminate iron supplements -taking iron every third day can increase hematocrit and hemoglobin and reduce side effects. Changing iron supplement to vegetable based preparations like Floradix can reduce constipation.

  5. Defecate after meals-Bowel activity  is increased at this time.  

  6.  Avoid Valsalva straining during bowel movement to prevent hemorrhoid formation.

  7. Avoid sitting too long on toilet because it may lead to hemorrhoids. 

  8. Use a squatty potty or a stand up stool, or if agile get up on toilet and squat.  

  9. Self administration of  a Fleet-type enema is also a safe & effective means of relieving constipation if all else fails.  

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