Constipation in Pregnancy

Expecting a baby is a joyful occurrence in life. Constipation in pregnancy is not. Recent statistics as many as half of all pregnant women may suffer from constipation at some point during pregnancy.Other sources report that bowel disorders during pregnancy are so common they may affect up to three-quarters of women.While it may be reassuring to know constipation is a fairly normal experience to have when you are pregnant, it doesn't answer the question of how best to find relief. Treating constipation in pregnancy looks different than it does when you are not pregnant. Find out what is and isn't recommended to find constipation relief in pregnancy.The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) defines constipation as follows:According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are a number of factors that can cause constipation during pregnancy.Changing hormone levels, and in particular a spike in progesterone, can contribute to a sluggish gut. Progesterone is so important for helping your muscles to relax and expand as your baby gets bigger.But progesterone also has this effect on the gut muscles, which has an unintended side effect: constipation. To make matters even more uncomfortable, as one research study explains, when progesterone levels increase, this inhibits motilin, a hormone that stimulates the smooth muscles of the gut to contract. For many pregnant women, morning sickness symptoms and food cravings or aversions can throw off their usual dietary routine. The gastrointestinal system does not like change and may react with constipation and other unpleasant side effects like gas, bloating, cramping and pain.In general, eating a diet low in fiber is one of the main dietary causes of constipation in pregnancy as well as in other times of life. Another main cause is poor hydration.Inadequate intake of dietary fiber combined with too-low intake of water is a reliable recipe for constipation in pregnancy.For some women, pregnancy can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue and other physical symptoms that may lead to inactivity. Inactivity can in turn lean to sluggish gut motility that causes constipation.While learning you are pregnant is exciting, it can also be stressful. In fact, all types of stress, both "bad" (distress) and "good" (eustress) impact your body in essentially the same way.Stress, worry and anxiety is normal and natural during pregnancy but it can also send your body into fight-or-flight mode. The American Psychological Association (APA) notes that stress of any kind can affect how and how rapidly food matter moves through your gut, which can lead to constipation.As the Mayo Clinic points out, one of the pregnancy supplements most frequently implicated in constipation is iron.Other medications may also contribute to constipation - always talk with your healthcare provider if you suspect constipation in pregnancy is linked to any medications or supplements you are taking. Always talk with your doctor before adding any new supplements.Pregnancy constipation can and does change as pregnancy itself progresses. This is due both to ongoing hormonal fluctuations at different stages of pregnancy and also because of physical changes.For example, the entire abdominal structure stretches and widens as your baby grows. This can put pressure on existing structures and internal organs, including the intestines, colon, rectum and bladder.The first trimester is when most women experience the set of symptoms commonly referred to as "morning sickness."In this first stage of pregnancy, constipation is more likely to arise because of sheer upset to your system as hormone levels spike and fall and your diet tries to adjust to symptoms like nausea and fatigueAs mentioned here earlier, progesterone spikes reduce gut motility and slow the progress of waste matter through and out of your body.As well, as John Hopkins Medicine explains, constipation naturally arises as your uterus begins to change shape and exert pressure on the intestines and rectum.During the second trimester, your baby really starts to grow. While the majority of morning sickness symptoms will begin to disappear, your growing baby will actually push your uterus up and out of the pelvic cavity, in part relieving the pressure on your intestines and rectum.However, for many women, the second trimester is the time when appetite increases. Increased food intake combined with back aches, body aches and pains and disrupted sleep can in turn cause constipation in the second trimester, according to John Hopkins Medicine.After experiencing constipation in the second trimester, you may feel quite hopeful that it will finally ease up in the third trimester.Unfortunately, according to John Hopkins Medicine, this is unlikely to be the case. The reason is because your baby is now large enough to once again put pressure on both your bladder and bowel, causing leaking in the former and constipation in the latter.The onset of hemorrhoids, another common pregnancy complication, may make constipation symptoms feel more intense.Treating constipation in pregnancy correctly is important both for your baby's health and safety and for your own.First step: try to resolve constipation naturally.The best first step is always to try to resolve the constipation symptoms naturally, as the American Pregnancy Association (APA) explains.As best you are able, try to increase fiber and water intake and daily exercise. The APA recommends aiming for 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three times per week. Swimming and walking are excellent choicesHowever, always talk with your doctor before adding anything new to your daily diet or exercise routine.In some cases, it may be possible to switch to a different type of iron supplement or take smaller doses more frequently to ease constipation symptoms.Separating out iron supplements from your other prenatal vitamins can also help ensure you keep taking in appropriate levels of all.If possible, you may be able to work with your provider to take in more dietary iron instead of taking it in supplement form.Here again, never make any changes without talking with your doctor first.There are three general categories of medical remedies that your doctor may recommend for pregnancy constipation that does not respond to other things you have tried: stool softeners, laxatives and bulk-producing agents. The Mayo Clinic states that stool softeners are generally considered to be safe for use during pregnancy.The Cleveland Clinic also publishes a list of constipation remedies considered safe for use while you are pregnant.The American Pregnancy Association reports that Milk of Magnesia is one remedy that is also considered to be safe for use during pregnancy.Thankfully, constipation during pregnancy is considered a highly treatable symptom. Now you know you have multiple options to help your gut acclimate to the widespread changes occurring throughout your body.Always seek a doctor's guidance before treating constipation in pregnancy that does not respond to other natural lifestyle modifications. This is for your baby's safety.
6 min read

Spotting in Pregnancy

While spotting is a relative common occurrence in early pregnancy, it can nevertheless be concerning. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 15-25 percent of women experience bleeding in early pregnancy. Spotting in first trimester pregnancies, or the first 12 weeks, is typically lighter in color than what one would experience with a regular menstrual flow. The color may also vary from a pinkish hue to red or even brown. Although it is easy to be worried when experiencing spotting during pregnancy, it’s important not to panic. Most women who experience spotting during pregnancy continue on to have a completely healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. If you’re wondering how common is bleeding during pregnancy 6 weeks, you should rest assured that it is relatively common. In fact, spotting or light bleeding can occur anytime between one and two weeks after fertilization occurs. This happens when the fertilized egg becomes implanted in the lining of the uterus. At this time, the cervix may be more prone to bleeding as a result of more blood vessels being present. Implantation bleeding may last for a few days and typically occurs before a woman even realizes she’s pregnant. In fact, this type of bleeding is sometimes mistaken for a regular period. There is no need to be worried about implantation bleeding. It should be kept in mind that any time bleeding or spotting occurs after a woman would have expected her period, it’s usually not implantation spotting, but is instead likely associated with early pregnancy instead. Understanding the Difference Between Bleeding and Spotting During PregnancyIn understanding whether to be concerned about spotting in first trimester pregnancies, it’s important to also understand the difference between actual bleeding and spotting. Vaginal bleeding that occurs during early pregnancy involves a discharge of blood that comes from the vagina. This type of bleeding can occur any time from the point of conception all the way through the end of the pregnancy.Spotting is relatively common during the first three months. There is usually no need to be alarmed. This is particularly true if you only notice a few drops of blood. As long as there is not enough blood to fill an entire panty liner, there is no need to be worried. By comparison, bleeding occurs when there is a much heavier blood flow. With actual bleeding, it will be necessary to wear a liner or even a pad in order to prevent blood from soaking through your clothing. Regardless of whether you are spotting or bleeding, it is typically best to get in touch with your healthcare provider and then describe to him or her the symptoms you are experiencing. It should be kept in mind that quite a few changes occur in the cervix during pregnancy. This is due to the high production of hormones that takes place during pregnancy. The presence of such hormones can cause the cervix to become softer. In addition to bleeding at the time of implantation, there can be many other causes for spotting to occur during pregnancy. Among those causes is a cervical polyp, which is a growth on the cervix. During periods of high estrogen levels, such polyps are more likely to bleed. This is particularly true during an exam or sexual intercourse. Cervical polyps are completely harmless. Other common causes of bleeding during early pregnancy include:In some cases, a vaginal infection can also lead to bleeding. When the cause of bleeding is a vaginal infection, it may also be accompanied by vaginal discharge. Certainly, no one ever wants to consider that bleeding might result in a loss of pregnancy, but miscarriage may also be a cause of bleeding that occurs during pregnancy. It’s certainly understandable that bleeding might trigger a concern regarding loss of pregnancy. According to a study; however, only 12 percent of the small number of women who experience bleeding in pregnancy actually had a loss of pregnancy. It should be noted that approximately two-thirds of women who do have a miscarriage experience bleeding. Given this; it’s important not to simply ignore bleeding during pregnancy. A healthcare professional can perform tests to determine a possible cause of bleeding in pregnancy. For instance, an ultrasound can determine whether bleeding stems from pelvic organs, such as an ovarian cyst. Blood tests may also be ordered to measure hCG, the pregnancy hormone. Low levels of this hormone might indicate that a pregnancy is not progressing properly. In some cases, progesterone levels may also be checked, as low levels of progesterone might result in bleeding or could indicate the presence of an abnormal pregnancy. Bleeding in Pregnancy as a Result of Abnormal PregnanciesWhen a pregnancy is not developing correctly, bleeding may be one of the first noticeable symptoms. For instance, if there is a genetic defect related to the embryo, bleeding could indicate an impending miscarriage. Once a miscarriage is in progress, it usually cannot be prevented. Molar pregnancies, also sometimes referred to as gestational trophoblastic disease, refers to a pregnancy in which there is something abnormal about the fertilization. This results in abnormal tissue growing in the uterus. Although the pregnancy is not normal, a woman may experience the same symptoms associated with early pregnancy. Depending on the type of molar pregnancy that has occurred, there may or may not be a fetus present in the uterus. In some cases, there is only tissue and no fetus at all. In other cases, there may be an abnormally formed fetus. When this is the case, the fetus typically has severe birth defects. Molar pregnancies are not able to progress toward the delivery of a normal fetus. One of the early symptoms of a molar pregnancy is bleeding or vaginal spotting. Molar pregnancies are diagnosed with an ultrasound or sonogram. When a fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus as it should, the result is an ectopic pregnancy. The egg may instead implant inside the Fallopian tubes. As the pregnancy progresses, there is a risk of the tube rupturing. Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain. A ruptured Fallopian tube can result in a significant amount of blood loss and could be potentially fatal. Emergency surgery and a blood transfusion may be necessary to resolve this life-threatening emergency.Anytime a pregnant woman experiences bleeding in pregnancy, it’s important to speak to a doctor. Although the bleeding or spotting could be completely harmless, it’s still important to determine the cause of the bleeding. While it’s quite likely that the cause of the bleeding is something relatively minor, other more serious causes of spotting or bleeding in pregnancy may include placental abruption, uterine rupture, placenta previa, or preterm labor. The best course of action is to see a healthcare professional as quickly as possible.In order to help manage spotting or bleeding in pregnancy and improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy continuing, a pregnant woman may be advised to stick to bed rest, stay well hydrated, spend time off her feet, limit physical activity, and elevate her feet.
7 min read

What is VBAC? All About Vaginal Birth After C-Section

Are you considering having a VBAC? While it shows good rates of success, it may not be for everyone and you may have some concerns about it if you will want to go over with your doctor.  To help you decide, read on as we talk more about VBAC, from its pros and cons down to how you can prepare for it.  VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. If you have delivered a baby via C-section and are pregnant again, you can choose between a repeat C-section or VBAC, if your obstetrician feels it is safe for you.  Many women have tried labor and a vaginal delivery after cesarean, which is possible and with a success rate of around 70%, in some studies. Many women choose a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC), because:             •           It can help prevent risks from multiple cesarean deliveries, like placenta accreta or placenta previa. This is beneficial for women who plan to have more children in the future            •           There are fewer and lower risks of any surgical complications that come with C-section delivery. Successful VBAC procedures are associated with lower rates of infection, blood clotting, and excessive bleeding. It may also decrease risks of requiring a hysterectomy and injury to one’s abdominal organs, like the bowel or bladder            •           There is a shorter recovery time when undergoing a VBAC versus a C-section, meaning a shorter hospital stay and shorter wait time before you can go back to your normal activities            •           It gives you the chance to experience a vaginal delivery  Those who are the best candidates for VBAC are the following:             •           Those pregnant with one baby and has had a history of 1-2 low transverse C-sections without problems that prevent VBAC            •           Those pregnant with one baby and have had a history of one C-section that underwent an unknown uterine incision type without problems that prevent VBAC. *This is unless your doctor suspects you have had a high vertical, or classical, uterine incision            •           Those pregnant with twins and have a history of one low transverse C-section and are a good candidate for twin vaginal delivery Prior vaginal delivery is also a great predictor of a successful VBAC procedure.  However, there are also those who are not candidates for VBAC, such as women having risk factors that decrease the chance of a successful VBAC. It’s best to check with your healthcare provider to see if you are an eligible candidate.  While there are numerous benefits from having a VBAC, there are also risk to consider.  If you experience a failed TOLAC, there may be more complications, such as uterine rupture. Though not to worry, as this is very rare and only happens to less than 1% of those who attempt a TOLAC. A uterine rupture occurs when the cesarean scar on your uterus opens. This risk is life-threatening for both you and the baby, and an emergency C-section is required to prevent any life-threatening complications if this happens. Your doctor may need to remove your uterus and perform a hysterectomy if this occurs. This is another reason why it’s important to weigh the pros and cons, as well as discuss the risks and success rates with your doctor, before choosing to do a VBAC. If you do choose to undergo a VBAC, you can prepare by talking about it with your healthcare provider. Discuss all your concerns and know what you can expect during VBAC. Submit your complete medical history, especially those that include records from your previous C-sections and other uterine procedures that may have been done. The healthcare provider will use your medical history to calculate the success rate of your expected VBAC. As long as you provide complete information and follow your doctors' advice, you can have a successful VBAC with no complications. Good luck!
4 min read
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