By Tamsin Brown •
Updated: 06 May 2022 • 8:13
How to aid digestion in pregnancy
For many women, pregnancy is not easy. Hormonal changes and a rapidly growing stomach can directly impact digestion. Here are some of the most common complaints and how to deal with them.
One of the most common discomforts during pregnancy is nausea, typically during the first trimester. It seems to have a hormonal origin and can be heightened by worry or lack of sleep.
Many women notice the onset of nausea when they need to eat, and it subsides when they do. Nausea can be reduced by eating frequent but small meals and eating foods that absorb gastric juices, such as bread. Plenty of rest and medications can also relieve nausea.
Heartburn occurs most frequently towards the end of pregnancy, when the size of the uterus displaces the organs so much that the stomach becomes more horizontal. This means that if the stomach is full, acids move more easily up the oesophagus into the mouth.
To relieve heartburn, you can sleep with your head slightly raised, eat smaller but frequent meals and take a suitable medication.
The movement of food through the digestive system is slowed down by hormonal changes, especially the high levels of progesterone in the blood. It is normal to feel that food sits in the stomach for longer and to be drowsier after meals.
This is temporary and eating smaller, more frequent meals is once again the golden rule.
Some women find that they go to the toilet more regularly during pregnancy, but others suffer from constipation due to the compression of the uterus on the end of the bowel. This usually improves with changes in diet and physical exercise.
The midwife or doctor may recommend a mild laxative if the problem is significant. Laxatives, even natural ones, should not be taken without professional advice.
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Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news.
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