Constipation is often one of the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy, affecting around 50 percent of pregnant women, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Eating a high-fiber diet helps keep your bowels moving, preventing constipation. Increasing your fiber intake by choosing the right foods can help keep you regular and more comfortable in pregnancy as well as supplying you and your baby's nutritional needs.
Causes and Recommendations
Hormonal changes in pregnancy, choosing low-fiber foods, taking iron supplements and decreased activity levels toward the end of pregnancy all contribute to constipation. As your baby grows, he also compresses your bowels, which makes your gastrointestinal tract sluggish as well. The American Pregnancy Association recommends eating 25 g to 30 g of dietary fiber each day. Ideally, your fiber intake should come from healthy foods including whole grains, fruits, legumes and vegetables.
Whole grain breads and cereals are good sources of fiber and also provide folic acid and iron, all of which are an important part of a healthy pregnancy diet. Bran cereals contain 10.4 g of fiber in a 1/2-cup serving and oat cereals contain 4 g of fiber in the same size serving. Whole grain breads contain around 3 g of fiber per slice. Folic acid intake is important during pregnancy because it helps prevent neural tube defects. Iron is necessary because of the increased demand of blood and oxygen during pregnancy. When pregnant, the demand for blood and oxygen in your body increases -- you need enough for you and your growing baby. Increased iron allows your body to carry extra oxygen inside your growing blood supply.
Certain fruits contain a large amount of fiber per serving and are full of essential vitamins and minerals important for the healthy growth and development of your baby. Pears contain 5.5 g of fiber per serving and are also a good source of vitamins A and C. A serving of raspberries contains 8 g of fiber and are also a healthy source of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A helps skin, eyes and bones develop, while vitamin C makes for healthy gums, bones and teeth. Other sources of high-fiber fruits include apples, strawberries, bananas, oranges and raisins.
Vegetables and Legumes
Like fruits, vegetables are low-calorie, nutrient-dense ways to add extra fiber to your diet. Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli contain about 5 g of fiber, while spinach provides 7 g in a 1/2-cup serving. Leafy green veggies are a good source of vitamin A and folic acid. Other vegetables high in fiber and vitamins and minerals include potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and peas. A cup of legumes such as black, pinto, white or kidney beans boost your intake even further, with around 19 g per 1-cup cooked serving.
- pregnant woman image by Indigo Fish from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.