Pregnancy hormones can affect the
digestive system. The hormone progesterone, which causes smooth muscle relaxation,
causes relaxation and slowing of digestion in the stomach and the small and large
intestines. The gallbladder is also affected with delayed emptying. That can increase
the chances of gallstone formation. Many of the digestive discomforts of pregnancy,
as morning sickness (nausea or vomiting), constipation, and heartburn, are all related
to the relaxed tone and slowed action of the digestive system.
The growing uterus itself can
affect the digestive system. As the uterus grows, it can press on or even block parts
the digestive tract. This can lead to slowed movement of food and constipation.
Increasing fluids, regular exercise, and increasing the fiber in your diet are some
the ways to prevent constipation. Always ask your healthcare provider before taking
medicine for this condition.
Many women have appetite changes in
pregnancy, such as:
Nausea and vomiting
A few women develop pica, a rare
craving to eat things other than food. This includes things like dirt, clay, ice,
rice, flour, starch, or coal. The craving may mean there is a nutritional deficiency,
such as not enough iron in the body.