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Digestive System | Health

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Digestive System

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CONSTIPATION AND WIND

Digestive disturbances such as constipation and wind can occur from conception onwards.  From early pregnancy, the hormone progesterone relaxes your muscles, including those of the large intestine.  This makes your digestive system sluggish, so that you may not have regular bowel movements.  In addition, your bowel absorbs more water than usual adding to the problem.  Taking iron tablets may make the symptoms worse.

Some over-the-counter laxatives are not safe to use because they reduce the amount of nutrients that you absorb.  Always ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before using any medication.  Make sure you are drinking up to 3 litres of water and fruit juice a day.  Eat more fruit, vegetables and high-fibre foods for example, wholemeal bread, baked beans and healthy cereals.  Do light exercise, such as walking or pregnancy yoga, to improve your general circulation.  Consider massage, a reflexologist can apply pressure to the arches of the feet, which are related to the intestines.  Ask your partner to massage this specific area of your feet in a clockwise direction, which should help to encourage movement of the bowel.

DENTAL PROBLEMS

The effect of the oestrogen hormone on the mouth can cause pregnant women to suffer from bleeding, swollen gums and loose teeth.

Using a softer toothbrush, brush your teeth at least twice a day.  Floss regularly and see your dentist during pregnancy because your teeth and gums may need extra attention.

FOOD AVERSIONS

Some food aversions may be protective because certain naturally occurring bitter substances can be harmful to the developing baby.  Food aversions may be associated with a changing sense of taste.

If you cannot bear to eat certain foods, be sure to eat other foods that provide the same nutrients, for example, if you cannot stomach red meat, eat more poultry, fish and dairy products instead.

FOOD CRAVINGS

Food cravings can develop regardless of how healthy you are.

If you crave unhealthy foods, prepare a plan of daily meals and stick to it as far as possible.  Buy fewer unhealthy foods so you cannot easily snack on crisps and biscuits when in the house.  Always have some fruit, yoghurts, chopped carrot, and similar, as an alternative snack.

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