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Nature's Insights

Natural Methods to Support a Healthy Gut During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a wonderful journey, but for many women, those glorious nine months can come with a few bumps along the way. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause several annoying discomforts including digestion issues. During this time, you’ll be more conscious than ever of what goes into your body, but there are many ways to support your digestive system and promote a healthy gut naturally. See below...

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is one of the most complained about symptom of pregnancy. During the first trimester of pregnancy, up to 90% of women experience some form of nausea or vomiting at any time of the day or night. Nausea tends to be triggered when our blood sugars get low. During pregnancy, blood sugars tend to run on the high side in order to ensure a good supply of energy to your growing baby. To ease the discomfort, try to:

  • Eat little and often – large meals can be heavy on your stomach. Eating smaller portions more often will keep your blood sugar from fluctuating and causing nausea.
  • Drink liquids between meals, not during
  • Try eating ginger biscuits or drinking ginger tea when your body needs a bit of extra support

Heartburn

Many women deal with heartburn, or acid reflux, in the second and third trimesters when the baby grows and pushes the digestive system upwards. This is a burning sensation in the oesophagus caused by acid from the stomach coming back up after eating.

To manage heartburn during pregnancy, try these tips:

  • Avoid eating too much just before bedtime; allow your digestive system to digest food before laying horizontally
  • Avoid acidic foods e.g. Citrus fruits or juices, highly spiced or seasoned foods and high-fat foods.
  • Liquorice has been linked to gastrointestinal health and may help to support digestion. Try liquorice tea for a refreshing treat.

If heartburn does not subside and causes you pain, contact your doctor or midwife about pregnancy-appropriate heartburn medication.

Trapped wind and bloating

The longer food sits in your digestive tract the more gas is produced, this gas can lead to uncomfortable cramping and bloating for pregnant women. Fortunately, there are some small changes to your diet you can try that may help:

  • Consider cutting back on dairy because even though calcium-rich foods such as milk and yoghurt are important to consume during pregnancy, they may also be wreaking havoc on your digestive system if you consume too much or are lactose intolerant.
  • Try a probiotic supplement. They contain naturally occurring healthy bacteria that live in your gut. They work to reduce the amount of ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut your intestines, which may leave you feeling bloated if not neutralised.
  • Peppermint has been proven to help with flatulence and general digestive discomfort, so try peppermint capsules or tea for a little relief.

Constipation

Infrequent bowel movements and hard to pass stools known as constipation affects more than half of all pregnant women at some point. This is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy. Sometimes the iron in prenatal supplements can make constipation worse or cause it in the first place. Try these tips to ease constipation:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (mainly water) to help food to travel down your digestive tract quicker and to help with overall digestion
  • Eating prunes or drinking prune juice may increase the fibre in your diet and act as a natural laxative that can ease constipation
  • Once again, peppermint has been proven to be beneficial to the digestive system, specifically in relation to constipation. Peppermint helps to maintain normal intestinal transit in a person with sensitive bowels

If you notice you are consistently constipated, make sure you talk to your doctor or midwife about possibly changing the amount of iron that your taking.

 

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