Increased levels of progesterone slow the digestive system, and extra iron from prenatal vitamins can harden the stool. In the third trimester, the pressure of the uterus on the intestines and the rectum can add to the problem. This all makes you feel bloated, gassy, and generally uncomfortable. Constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids, another common side effect of pregnancy.
Eat a high-fiber diet of raw fruit, vegetables, and whole grains -- munching a couple of prunes each morning is an easy way to add fiber (if you like prunes!). Exercise regularly; a simple walk around the block will help things get moving. Drink eight glasses of water a day, including a warm, non-caffeinated beverage in the morning to stimulate digestion. Also, ask your doctor about bulking agents such as FiberCon, which add fiber and water to your digestive system, or stool softeners.
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