Digestive Health in Pregnancy

Writing a blog that centres around health and well-being throughout pregnancy; I often draw from my own experiences – revealing the good, the bad and the darn right ugly.

During previous posts I’ve made no secret of divulging the ugly side of the digestive health problems and discomfort I faced throughout my first pregnancy.  After-all, that was just one of the many reasons that motivated me to embark on this journey in the first place.

When I use the term ‘discomfort’ I should emphasise this is probably the most discreet and subtle term I can use, but there were days when I was literally too scared to sit on the loo for fear I might push that baby out.

I didn’t help myself in any way regarding my diet and at the time didn’t even think to consider alternative ways to help myself.  I took it as an uncomfortable and foreseeable part of pregnancy.  The solution –  I guzzled on so much Fibrogel anyone would think I had shares in the company and yes; whilst it works it does contain aspartame and during my second journey into pregnancy I wanted to explore alternative natural options.

Prune juice was another one of my go to solutions during the first pregnancy.  To say I dislike prunes / prune juice would be an immense understatement.  My poor husband would have to pour it down my throat while I held my nose and closed my eyes; much like a small child trying broccoli for the very first time.

Of course, the downside of prune juice; like so many shop brought concentrated fruit juices is the sugar content which, if you’re suffering with diabetes is just going send your blood sugar levels sky rocketing.

Having spoken to many of my mummy friends and expectant friends at the time regarding this issue it was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone.

In fact, up to half of all pregnant women suffer from constipation at some point during their pregnancy and we can yet again blame those pesky hormones for it, and if we’re naming and shaming here then yes, that’s you Progesterone.

The reasons for a sluggish digestive system is that progesterone relaxes the smooth muscles throughout the body which includes those in the digestive tract resulting in the food we eat passing through the intestines more slowly.  Combined with taking iron supplements which also contribute to constipation and making it worse; its little wonder why so many women suffer this unpleasant and often distressing side effect of pregnancy.

If you use a search engine to find a solution to constipation during pregnancy; you’ll be hit with a barrage of useful hints and tips such as adding fibre rich foods to your diet including cereals, wholemeal, fruits and vegetables; or the suggestion to try fibre supplements (see point above) and of course exercise as it’s known to increase your bowel motility.  All great advice I may add but sometimes just not possible.  Cue morning sickness, exhaustion and an aversion to vegetable and all things green…

My saving grace the second time around was the very modest and unpretentious Linseed.  Who knew this tiny seed could prevent me so much distress.

The Linseed plant’s Latin name is Linum usitatissimum which literally translated means ‘most useful’.  I’ll say!!

The Linseed is an excellent source of fibre and is rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre and, sprinkled on cereal or included in cakes, breads, smoothies, granola bars soups, salads and yoghurts is incredible – a small amount really does go a long way.  The fibre in linseed is less harsh than that of wheat bran and therefore more soothing on your bowel and stomach too.

So, if like me and countless other women out there who are suffering with constipation or just feeling a little sluggish; please give Linseed a go before reaching for the shop brought fibre supplements.  Just remember to drink plenty of water with them and of course if you’re suffering from any bowel issues such as diverticulitis then avoid and of course, for specific questions regarding your diet or if you feel that you need extra assistance, please do contact your doctor or midwife to seek guidance

Happy and Healthy Pregnancies to you all.

The Pregnancy Pantry

This Blog First Appeared on www.meetothermums.com

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