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Handling Pregnancy Issues: Constipation and Bed Rest

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Many women encounter constipation problems during pregnancy. Let’s be clear, take no medication before checking with your physician first. That being said, sometimes all that’s needed is just a good stool softener of some kind to get relief. But is it safe?

According to the Mayo Clinic, stool softeners are generally considered safe during pregnancy – probably because the active ingredient isn’t absorbed in the body. Remember, use any stool softeners or even laxatives as directed. Doctors will tell you; however, that relying on stool softeners is not the first plan of action. Pregnant women should strive to have good lifestyle habits such as the following:

Drink plenty of fluid – 8 (8-ounce) glasses of water, fruit or prune juice as recommended by Mayo Clinic.

Physical activity – regular, moderate exercise gets you going in more ways than one.

A good diet – which means high-fiber food, fruits, veggies and beans.

Watch your iron intake – Too much iron causes constipation so if you’re taking iron supplements, be watchful.

Bed Rest

When many people think of bed rest, they think of a person stuck in the bed all day without being able to move about freely. Truth be told, yes, there are some who are prescribed this type of bed rest. The real question is why and when are certain types of bed rest recommended.

Firstly, bed rest does not totally prevent pregnancy complications, but it does act as a safeguard according to Mayo Clinic. When a person suffers from high blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, placenta problems, a premature-dilating cervix or any other signs of preterm labor, your doctor will suggest bed rest for you.

As alluded to earlier, bed rest can mean lying down all the time – maybe on your side, even when eating. This means sponge baths and a bed pan for your personal needs. For some, this requires hospitalization. The middle extreme is when you have to sit or recline most of the time, only getting up to go to the toilet or shower. Chores will be off limits as well. But in other cases, bed rest just means a decrease in activity for a length of time. You are able to move about, even work, but heavy lifting or strenuous work is out of the question.

Like all prescriptions, bed rest has side effects. Mayo Clinic lists feeling weak or dizzy when you stand, increased risk of blood clots, decreased bone mass, emotional challenge of feeling isolated as well as the effects of muscular cardiovascular deconditioning that may linger after delivery.

Your doctor should let you know what type of bed rest you need, but if you still have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Just like anything else, prepare for this episode of your pregnancy. Get organized before having to start bed rest. Accept help when you really need it, try to stay limber (especially if movement is OK), and talk about your concerns to your partner and/or doctor when you feel you need to.

Resource: Mayo Clinic

Dita Faulkner is a freelance writer living in Tennessee. She has seven great nieces and nephews, who give her joy, and who, on a regular basis, adds funny to her life.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.