Yay, you’re pregnant! And, you’re constipated. Upwards of 38% of pregnant women experience constipation. It can be painful and just plain terrible to deal with! Thankfully, there is good news! Constipation can be relieved naturally by consuming foods rich in fiber. Fiber is found in many different foods from fruits and veggies to whole grains and some cereals and legumes.
Most fiber-rich foods are also super healthy and loaded with nutrients that you and your baby need to thrive. Find the foods (and 1 drink!) below that you can add to your daily diet to help alleviate your constipation.
- Red Raspberries
- Green Peas
- Black Beans
- Whole Wheat Spaghetti
- Foods with Probiotics
- Chia seeds
- Turnip Greens
- Brussels sprouts
These are not “magical” foods but they may seem like it. Pregnant women need around 25-30 grams of fiber daily. Consuming a few servings of these foods daily can help alleviate any discomfort from irregularity.
Frequent constipation may cause hemorrhoids, sorry! Be sure to see your OB if you experience signs of hemorrhoids, which can be really painful and difficult to get rid of, especially when pregnant. With a healthy diet and water, it is possible to avoid hemorrhoids, however.
Fortunately, there is no evidence that constipation can harm your growing baby. Constipation really only brings mom discomfort. Constipation initially occurs because of the increase in progesterone during the 1st trimester. Relaxation of your body’s muscles happens, which leads to slower digestion. Slow digestion occurs for optimal nutrition absorption to take place in the gut, so that’s definitely a plus. Less movement, consumption of low fiber foods, and even anxiety can lead to constipation during pregnancy as well. Iron found in prenatal vitamins or any iron supplement may even cause some constipation.
Feed mom & me prenatal vitamins contain organic agave inulin powder, which helps support digestive health and promotes normal bowel function. Because iron in a prenatal vitamin that can cause constipation, it is a good idea to drink a lot of water and consume high fiber foods in addition to the supplement, BUT every little bit of fiber helps!
The best way to relieve constipation is with a healthy diet plus plenty of water. Frequent movement, exercise can also help move things along. Regular exercise, about 20-30 minutes 3 times a week, can help stimulate digestion as well. If the aforementioned does not work, there are always stool softeners, which have not been shown to have any adverse effects and are generally safe for pregnancy. Laxatives are not recommended during pregnancy because they can cause dehydration and may even cause some uterine contractions. Always consult with your OB about taking any over the counter medication.
Red Raspberries have 8 grams of fiber per cup. Enjoy them on their own or in salads, smoothies, yogurt, and cereal. Red raspberries also contain high amounts of vitamin C, which helps your immune system. Frozen raspberries are perfect for smoothies and retain most of their nutrients during the freezing process. Make sure to wash fresh berries thoroughly with water and vinegar (or baking soda) just being eating to remove dirt and grim.
Green peas have 9 grams of fiber per cup. Enjoy them in soups and stews or added to marinara sauce or salads. They also contain vitamin C and potassium, which are needed for both mom and baby! Whether you eat frozen, canned, or fresh green peas, you’ll get the beneficial nutrients. Just make sure to rinse off any excess salt from canned green peas.
Pears have 5.5 grams of fiber for 1 medium size pear. Pears are surprisingly rich in folate and are a good source of antioxidants. They taste great on their own or in oatmeal, yogurt, cottage cheese, and even diced and sautéed in coconut oil and cinnamon. Wash thoroughly in warm water and vinegar (or baking soda).
One cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 15.5 grams of fiber! Lentils are definitely a “superfood,” providing mom and baby with B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, all of which are needed for a healthy pregnancy. Add lentils to soups, stews, and salads. Try our veggie lentil soup from our e-book, Feel Good Food for a Healthy Pregnancy. It’s delicious and simple to cook.
One cup of black beans has 15 grams of fiber. Black beans also contain antioxidants and protein. Enjoy beans in tacos, soups, chili, stews, salads, with rice, or made into a hummus-like dip for veggies. Canned beans are nutritious and convenient, just make sure to rinse off excess sodium.
Cooked broccoli has about 5 grams of fiber per 1 cup. It also contains iron and calcium, which are needed for healthy cells and bones, respectively. Broccoli is such a versatile veggie. Our favorite ways to cook and eat are roasted with olive oil, chopped in salads, added to baked potatoes with melted cheese and pasta and broccoli with garlic and oil sauce.
Whole Wheat Spaghetti
One cup of cooked whole wheat spaghetti has 6 grams of fiber. Pasta has endless pasta-bilities! Toss pasta with any sauce that you’re craving. We have delicious, quick and nutritious Bolognese, pesto and marinara sauces in our e-book. Add broccoli and some beans and you have yourself a dish packed with fiber. Always cook pasta according to package directions (we prefer al dente) and NEVER rinse with water. For best flavor, toss spaghetti with the sauce before enjoying!
With all of this fiber in your diet, mama, it’s important to note that you can still become well, backed up—unless you drink plenty of water! Pregnant women need at least 12, 8 oz glasses of water daily (plus more in the summer months!). Water helps the fiber move along your digestive tract and it’s necessary to keep stool both soft and compact. Fiber promotes stool softening and bulking, therefore water and fiber both work together. Foods contain both soluble (stimulates bowels to hold on to water) and insoluble fiber (does not dissolve and moves through intestines) and you need them both in order to keep your digestive tract on track!
Foods with Probiotics
In addition to fiber and water, try to add more probiotics to your diet as well. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, and miso soup help to keep healthy bacteria in your gut, which in turn helps keep your digestive system moving, literally. Aim for at least 1-2 servings of these foods daily.
Chia seeds have about 10 grams of fiber per ounce. Sprinkle on salads, yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal. You can also add to pancake/waffle batter, cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and even make a simple chia jam with frozen berries. Chia seeds are also high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which make it perfect for babies brain development.
Quinoa is a super versatile seed! Yes, it’s actually considered a seed, not a grain, but can be used to replace grains in recipes. It has about 5 grams of fiber per 1 cup cooked. Quinoa is bland in flavor therefore it takes on any flavors. Quinoa tastes great in salads and soup. You can use it in place of rice in stir fry recipes too. Quinoa “oatmeal” is the perfect way to start the day and you can even add uncooked quinoa to homemade granola.
One cup of cooked turnip greens has 5 grams of fiber. Sauté turnip greens in olive oil and garlic or add to soups and stews. They are loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C, which make them good immune-boosting food! Make sure to immerse and clean with water thoroughly to remove excess dirt and grim.
Apples have 4.5 grams of fiber for 1 medium-size apple. Wash the outside skin well (and eat it!) because that is where most of the fiber exists. Apples can be added to salads, yogurt, and oatmeal. Spread peanut butter or any other nut butter and even top with some chocolate chips on them for the perfect snack. Baked or sautéed apples with cinnamon and coconut oil taste delicious with some yogurt or ice cream on top too! Apples are also high in vitamin C! Here is a trick: add lemon juice to sliced apples to prevent browning!
One cup of oatmeal has 5 grams of fiber. Oatmeal is a a versatile food, ready for many different flavors from sweet to even savory. We love oatmeal with chia, ground flax seeds, mashed banana, and peanut butter. You can also add uncooked oats to smoothies and meatloaf or meatballs (to replace breadcrumb). Oatmeal is also a great way to add fiber to pancake, waffle, and cookie batter; just ground up into a flour-like texture. Oatmeal is also high in iron and magnesium, which are bodybuilding nutrients for your little babe.
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that everyone thinks they dislike, but when they cook them the “right” way, they end up becoming a favorite! They contain 4 grams of fiber per cup. Bake/roast Brussels with olive oil and salt in the oven until crisp and you have yourself a delicious dish. They can even be sliced thin and added to salads to be enjoyed the same way as lettuce. Rinse Brussels under cool, running water to remove debris. You can also find vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate in Brussels, which make them a perfect veggie for pregnant mamas!