Constipation in Early Pregnancy

QUESTION

Dear Midwife,
I am 9 weeks today. I have been really constipated, which I am told is normal. The problem is before I got pregnant my iron was always low and every few months I was on iron pills. Once I got pregnant I stopped taking them, until I saw my doctor to be sure I could still take them (on Thursday).

I had my first check up and the doctor says everything is fine. My problem is when I actually go to the bathroom my stool has been black and I have only went in small amounts for a few weeks now. I am also having pain (that reminds me of gas pain) every now and then in my side.

I am pretty sure it is built up gas because that's what it feels like and it is pretty high up, near my ribs. I'm also having a bit of pain in my "breadbasket", near my zoifoid. I think it is gas pain from not going to the bathroom in a while.....

Is all of this normal? Should I be worried? What is this?

ANSWER

You sound like a person who needs to go on a *really* high fiber diet--sooner rather than later. It is better to do it with food and fluids than with pills if you can.

Here are a few suggestions, but you can find more on the web: eat a whole bag of prepared salad every day; other green leafies are good (like spinach); eat about 10 almonds every day; eat fruits where you eat the skin or the seeds (raspberries, grapes, raisins and apples, not bananas); make sure you get at least 2 liters of water and a half hour of exercise every day; artichokes (whole) are great!; and chili or anything with beans in it.

If you do these things each day for three days, I practically guarantee that things will get moving.

-- Cynthia, CNM. PhD.

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.