Constipation Got You Down?
Constipation is a real drag, particularly during pregnancy. Your pregnancy related hormone, Progesterone, has a very important role in supporting your pregnancy, but plays a roll in slowing the smooth muscle activity as well. You may wonder what smooth muscle is and how this impacts your ability to poop. Smooth muscle is a muscle fiber type that your brain controls on its own. For example, your heart is a big ole' smooth muscle and will pump as long as your brain keeps telling it to. We have no control over this, nor do we want it because most of us would forget to breath all together! Your large and small intestines are lined with the same type of muscle that creates wave-like motions, a term called peristalsis, which the signals from your brain provide to assist with digestion. Progesterone levels in pregnancy will cause your intestinal peristalsis to slow down, a real drag for your digestion.
Another factor playing into digestion with pregnancy is heart burn, or GERD for short. When we have heartburn, we typically grab for antacids (Tums, omeprazole, etc.) to help alleviate the sensation. This can be very helpful for your discomfort, but reducing the amount of acid in your stomach can reduce your ability to efficiently break down your food. This is where altering your diet, sleeping position, and other lifestyle habits can help to reduce your need for meds.
At Pittsburgh Pelvic Health, our PTs have advanced training in GI dysfunction and can help! We have tons of knowledge in organ function within the pelvis as well as the pelvic floor muscles. Whether you are pregnant or not, we can assist with a whole health approach to assist with digestion from the top down.