Dealing with Constipation

Constipation is a common complaint during pregnancy. It is caused mainly by hormone changes that make your digestive tract sluggish. Your uterus pressing on the bowel as it grows, being less active and taking iron supplements can also add to the problem.

Now… the Good News   

The good news is that constipation is easily prevented or corrected by:

  • eating more higher-fibre foods
  • drinking eight to 12 cups of fluids daily such as water and milk. Coffee and tea count too but you should not drink more than two cups daily
  • being physically active every day – walking or swimming are good ways to be active when pregnant.

How Much Fibre Do You Need?

Aim for about 28 grams of fibre daily. To get this amount of fibre include lots of these foods in your diet:

  • vegetables and fruit – at least seven to eight servings daily
  • whole grain foods such as whole wheat bread – not products made with white flour
  • foods made with bran such as bran flakes, bran buds, natural wheat bran, oatbran
  • legumes such as baked beans, lentil or split pea soup, hummus dip, chilli with beans
  • seeds, nuts and nut butters such as peanut butter.

Eating the High Fibre Way

This menu shows you how healthy eating can provide the fibre you need each day.
 Fibre Content
½ grapefruit2.1 grams
½ cup Ready-to-eat Oat Bran cereal3.0 grams
with milk0.0 grams
with ¼ cup raisins1.4 grams
1 slice whole wheat toast2.0 grams
with jam0.0 grams
Morning Snack
1 small bran muffin2.5 grams
Carrot sticks1.9 grams
Tuna sandwich with two slices of whole wheat bread4.0 grams
Tuna0.0 grams
Carton of milk (250 millilitres)0.0 grams
¼ cantaloupe1.0 grams
Afternoon Snack
Four whole wheat crackers1.7 grams
with one slice cheese0.0 grams
Apple2.6 grams
Baked chicken breast0.0 grams
One baked potato (no skin)3.4 grams
½ cup peas and carrots mixed3.0 grams
1 cup mixed green salad1.0 grams
with salad dressing0.0 grams
Glass of milk0.0 grams
Total fibre for the day:29.6 grams

Note: Fibre is found only in plant foods, not in milk or meat products, or condiments like jam or salad dressing.

An example of a nutrition label.Wondering how much Fibre is in a Food? Read food labels….

Most packaged and canned foods list the fibre content per serving of food in the Nutrition Facts table on the package label. In Canada, a serving of food that provides at least:

  • 2 grams fibre is a “source” of fibre
  • 4 grams fibre is a “high source” of fibre
  • 6 grams fibre is a “very high source” of fibre

The Fibre Content of Some Common Foods

Here is a list of fibre content of some common foods.
 Fibre Content
Vegetable Products
½ cup lima beans4.5 grams
½ cup broccoli2.3 grams
½ carrots2.2 grams
½ cup corn2.3 grams
½ cup parsnips2.7 grams
½ cup green peas5.7 grams
½ cup squash2.0 grams
½ cup turnip1.6 grams
Four cooked brussels sprouts3.0 grams
One medium boiled potato (no skin)1.9 grams
One raw carrot1.9 grams
One medium tomato1.5 grams
Legumes, Nuts, Miscellaneous Dishes
½ cup baked beans in tomato sauce10.4 grams
½ cup split peas3.0 grams
⅓ cup almonds2.9 grams
⅓ cup peanuts4.1 grams
Two tablespoons peanut butter1.8 grams
1 cup Beef Barley soup3.1 grams
1 cup Split Pea soup6.5 grams
1 cup Minestrone soup2.6 grams
1 cup Chili with beans8.0 grams
Fruit Products
One medium apple2.6 grams
One medium banana1.9 grams
Four to five dried apricots2.2 grams
Three fresh apricots2.0 grams
Five dates3.6 grams
One peeled mango4.1 grams
One medium orange2.4 grams
One raw papaya5.3 grams
One medium pear5.1 grams
½ grapefruit2.1 grams
Five prunes3.1 grams
¼ cantaloupe1.0 grams
½ cup blueberries2.0 grams
½ cup raspberries3.2 grams
½ cup cooked rhubarb2.5 grams
Grain Products
One slice whole wheat bread2.0 grams
One cup whole wheat pasta4.8 grams
¾ cup Bran Flakes6.3 grams
⅓ cup Bran Buds with Psyllium11.0 grams