Constipation affects up to 25% of pregnant women and many women during postpartum. It can present in a range of symptoms including lack of regularity, straining and painful passing of stools. This can be caused by a number of things including elevated hormone levels, a lack of fibre or the use of iron supplements.
Ensuring you get enough fibre in your daily diet can help ease the effects of constipation, one of the many side effects of being pregnant. However, most Australians don't get the recommended 25 grams of fibre daily. In fact, pregnant women require even more fibre - 28 grams per day – equal to eating around 10 apples! Taking a fibre supplement like Metamucil daily can help ensure pregnant women easily reach this recommended fibre intake, in turn helping them stay regular and relieving constipation.
Question: Why is fibre important during pregnancy and post-birth?
Dr Li Yan: Constipation affects up to 25% of pregnant women and it can present in a range of symptoms including lack of regularity, straining and painful passing of stools. Fibre is particularly important during pregnancy as it can help relieve constipation, one of the many side effects of being pregnant.
Question: How much fibre do we need?
Dr Li Yan: Fibre is an important part of our diet; however, most Australians do not consume enough. The recommended daily amount is 25g for women and 30g for men, as suggested by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Pregnant women actually need more fibre and should up their intake to 28g per day.
Question: What is the cause of constipation during pregnancy and post birth?
Dr Li Yan: Constipation during pregnancy can be caused by a number of things including:
Poor fibre intake – most Australian women don't consume the recommended 25g of fibre daily. In fact, expectant mums are advised to increase their fibre intake further to 28g each day. Eating adequate fibre can help maintain regularity and relieve constipation.
Rising levels of progesterone – which can reduce movement in the digestive system as well as time taken for food to move through, making stool harder and more difficult to pass. Increased iron supplementation – Associated with constipation.
Dietary changes – Can change fluid levels in the body, contributing to constipation.
Sensitivity and pain – Whether you have a vaginal or caesarean birth, pain in the perineum, anus or abdomen can make it harder to pass stools postpartum.
Dehydration – Is a common cause of constipation. And when breastfeeding, it's particularly important for new mums to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
Question: What is the best way to relieve constipation?
Dr Li Yan: The first line of management for constipation is to increase fibre and fluid intake. Metamucil is a fibre supplement containing soluble and insoluble fibre. When taken daily, it can help to relieve constipation, maintain regularity and supports a healthy gut.
Question: Why is a natural fibre supplement useful?
Dr Li Yan: Your digestive system is an important system for food digestion, absorption and waste excretion. It's important that you maintain regularity in your digestive system to ensure you are removing indigestible substances, waste and toxins so that they do not accumulate inside the gut.
Fibre is an important dietary requirement and crucial for digestive health. It helps you to maintain regularity by trapping and gently pushing waste through the digestive system.
Given most Australians don't consumer the recommended amount of fibre daily, a natural fibre supplement can help maintain regularity and support a healthy gut.
Question: What is Metamucil?
Dr Li Yan: Metamucil is a multi-health fibre supplement made with 100% natural psyllium. When taken daily, it helps to maintain regularity and supports a healthy gut.
Question: How do we know if we don't have enough fibre in our diets?
Dr Li Yan: Constipation or a lack of regularity is one of the most common signs that you're not getting enough fibre. It can also be a good idea to monitor your fibre intake to see if you're hitting the recommended intake. If not, consider adding Metamucil into your daily diet as an easy and convenient way to up your fibre consumption.
Interview by Brooke Hunter