Fiber is a crucial part of a healthy diet, even during pregnancy, but some women jump onto the healthy eating bandwagon a bit too quickly after finding out they are pregnant. Fiber is something that needs to be added to your diet slowly to prevent excessive gas and pain. Eating too much fiber too quickly can leave a pregnant woman feeling bloated, gassy and crampy, but it will not hurt the fetus.
Constipation and Pregnancy
Pregnancy constipation is a symptom many women face. While there are safe over-the-counter laxatives that can be used during pregnancy, a simpler alternative is changing your diet to include fiber and fiber-rich foods. Green, leafy vegetables is the perfect place to start, but fiber is also found in bread and pasta. Look for whole grain or wheat varieties and check the label for total fiber supplied per serving. The American Pregnancy Association suggests a daily fiber intake of 25 to 30 grams, though some experts suggest at least 35 grams of fiber per day.
Adding More Fiber to Your Diet
If you don’t normally consume lots of fiber, take it easy at first. Add about 5 grams of fiber per day to your diet. When you feel comfortable eating the extra fiber add 5 more grams. Eventually you will work up to the suggested amount without feeling bloated and gassy. Pregnant women who find it difficult to add fiber to their diet via food can choose a fiber product like Metamucil (pregnancy category B).
Quick Tips for Fiber Intake During Pregnancy
- When adding fiber to your pregnancy diet, follow these quick tips to ease the process.
- Add more water as you add more fiber. Fiber is a bulk-forming laxative requiring adequate water intake to work properly.
- Add fiber slowly – too much can cause painful stomach and gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Choose fiber-rich foods whenever possible. Fiber-rich foods also tend to be rich in healthy vitamins and nutrients.
Your pregnancy is safe even if you’ve consumed too much fiber and feel bloated and crampy. When in doubt, report cramps to your physician who may want to schedule an appointment to make sure your cramping is not a sign of preterm labor.