Is pregnancy making you feel a little…blocked? Believe it or not, occasional constipation or even irregularity during pregnancy is very common. If you need help staying regular, the answer could be getting more fiber. But how you address irregularity during pregnancy may be a little different than when you’re not pregnant. So keep reading to learn why this may be happening to you now, and how a healthy diet plus fiber supplements during pregnancy can help. And of course, ask your OBGYN for advice on the foods or supplements you need for irregularity during pregnancy.
WHY SOME WOMEN NEED FIBER DURING PREGNANCY
It’s totally normal to have irregularity during pregnancy. For most women, the issue can begin during the second or third month, and it may continue throughout the duration of the pregnancy. This uncomfortable condition can happen because:
• Changing levels of progesterone in pregnancy slow down the movement of food through your digestive tract. This helps your bloodstream absorb nutrients for your developing baby. But irregularity can be the unfortunate side effect of this sluggish slowdown.
• Physiological changes in your body can physically block part of your digestive tract. As your uterus grows, it becomes increasingly more difficult for you to go to the bathroom.
• Elementary school is when most kids start to have the option to buy their own lunch. Unfortunately, many kids use this newfound freedom to eat sugary and salty snack foods. You can help your child to make healthy food decisions by going over the school’s menu ahead of time and making recommendations. Or, you can pack their lunch with healthy foods.
• Doctors sometimes recommend iron supplements for pregnant women with anemia, but iron supplements can contribute to constipation.
Many people self-diagnose this issue and think they may need laxatives. However, if you’re irregular during pregnancy, consult your doctor before taking any medications or laxatives, even if they’re over-the-counter. Your doctor can recommend the best course of action for you, which may include drinking more water and adding more fiber into your diet.
So what is fiber and how can it help make you more regular during pregnancy? Keep reading to find out.
WHAT IS FIBER?
Fiber is simply a type of carbohydrate in plant-based foods that humans can’t naturally digest. Think the skin of an apple or the peel of a potato. Fiber adds bulk to your stool, making it much easier for you to go number-two.
There are two types of fiber:
• Soluble fiber – This type of fiber actually absorbs water during digestion. The Mayo Clinic reports that soluble fiber may have a number of overall health benefits. Foods such as oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium have soluble fiber.1
• Insoluble fiber – Water-insoluble fiber helps to actually move material through your digestive system and increase stool bulk, which makes it beneficial for irregularity. Foods with insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.
So now you know what fiber is and where to find it. Let’s talk about how much you need and some easy ways for you to get more of it!
HOW MUCH FIBER DO YOU NEED?
The FDA recommends that adults and children over age 4 should get 28 grams of dietary fiber per day, and this includes women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.2 And although there’s no recommended dietary reference specifically for insoluble vs. soluble fiber, many experts recommend that about 25% of your daily fiber intake should come from soluble fiber.3
The catch? Most Americans only get about 14 grams of fiber per day.3 If you check the labels of your favorite foods, you’ll see why. Even foods we think of as high-fiber, like whole grain breads, cereals and nuts, may only have a fraction of our daily recommended value per serving.
HOW TO CONSUME MORE FIBER
First things first, add more fiber-rich foods into your diet. Some examples are fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Shoot for eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and whole grain breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving. Add legumes like kidney beans, garbanzos or other beans to a salad. A ½-cup serving of beans has approximately 7-8 grams of fiber.1
Other tips to sneak more fiber into your diet? Swap out the usual baked goods for whole grain versions. Dried fruit and popcorn make excellent fiber-rich snacks!
Plus, be sure to drink plenty of water. Fiber is most effective when it absorbs water, which can make your stool softer and bulkier.
Eating plenty of these foods plus drinking more water should help to keep you more regular during pregnancy. But if you’re still struggling, ask your doctor if taking a fiber supplement during pregnancy could help. vitafusion Fiber Well™ and vitafusion Fiber Well™ Fit both support digestive health with 5 grams of fiber per serving. Plus, Fiber Well Fit also has six B vitamins that help to support fat, carb and protein metabolism.* And people love our gummies because they taste great and are easy to take on-the-go without water.
However, keep in mind that these supplements don’t include all the necessary nutrients you might need during pregnancy. Consider also taking vitafusion Prenatal or Simply Good Prenatal to cover your pregnancy nutritional bases.*
If you’re suffering from irregularity during pregnancy, add more fiber to your diet by eating plenty of fiber-rich foods. Drink more water. And ask your doctor if taking fiber supplements during pregnancy can help.
We love sharing our insights about vitamins and health. But that doesn’t mean it should be a substitute for professional medical advice. For that, you should talk to your doctor!
1 Mayo Clinic Staff, Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet (mayoclinic.org).
2 21 CFR 101.9 Nutrition Labeling of Food Final Rule, April 2017
3 King, DE, J Acad Nutr Diet, 2012.