“What can I take for constipation while pregnant?” This is a question most expecting moms ask their friends, family, and ob-gyns.
You will meet with many symptoms for the first time in your life when you are expecting your first one. One of them may or may not be constipation. Statistics reveal that 10 to 40 percent women have episodes of constipation during pregnancy.1
Infrequent defecation, hard or lumpy stools, less than three defecations per week or excessive straining to pass stools are all signs of pregnancy-related constipation.2
What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?
Constipation in early pregnancy may be caused due to rising levels of the Human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG). It is also the hormone responsible for nausea and vomiting or morning sickness. While in mid and late pregnancy, you may have to deal with it because circulating progesterone may slow down your gastrointestinal movement. Also, as the baby grows, it can press on the mother’s intestines and cause digestive delays or obstructions.3
Other causes of pregnancy constipation may include reduced physical activity, anxiety, iron supplementation, and poor fluid intake. It is not uncommon for many of these factors to unite over the course of the pregnancy and make matters worse. Additionally, many women who have been bothered by constipation before conception are more likely to notice worsening symptoms during pregnancy.4
Nonetheless, most of these cases are sorted out by the pregnant woman’s ob-gyn or general physician, with very few requiring the help of a gastroenterologist.
8 Home Remedies For Constipation During Pregnancy
Pregnancy-related constipation is fairly common and hardly requires extensive evaluation or treatment. Here are some tips and tricks to help you prevent and treat constipation while pregnant.
1. Fill Up On Fiber
If you are pregnant and constipated, chances are that you are just not consuming enough fiber. Try to increase your fiber intake by eating well-tolerated high-fiber foods such as cereal (especially bran), oats, fresh and dried fruits.5
2. How About Bulk Forming Agents?
If for some reason you are unable to modify your diet or increase activity levels to experience pregnancy constipation relief, meal supplementation with four to six tablespoons of bran is sure to help. You can also try another bulk forming agent such as psyllium, methylcellulose or polycarbophil. All you need to do is consume these with 1 to 2 glasses of water. It works to relieve constipation by increasing fecal water content and stool weight and decreasing colonic transit time.6
3. Go On And Guzzle
Drinking water is important on a daily basis and its importance peaks during pregnancy for several reasons. Drinking plenty of fluids is crucial in handling constipation during pregnancy, particularly when you’re increasing your fiber intake. They work together to keep your bowel movements in great form. Drink 10 to 12 cups of fluids each day–this can be in the form of water, lemonade, juices, tender coconut water, milk shakes, ice chips, and smoothies. Steer clear of caffeinated beverages such as colas and coffee as they tend to dehydrate you. Also, remember to drink up more if you live in sweaty, hot and humid places and after exercising.7
4. Aid From Laxatives And Stool Softeners
In some cases, stool softeners or laxatives may be advised for pregnancy constipation relief. While stool softeners are largely considered safe for mom and baby, laxatives may not be so well tolerated. They come with side effects such as bloating, abdominal cramps, salt overload, dehydration, diarrhea, and flatulence.8
5. Re-Evaluate Your Prenatals
One of the most common side effects of using prenatal vitamins and minerals are constipation in addition to nausea and vomiting. Iron supplements prescribed during pregnancy can lead to constipation. In the first trimester, a pregnant woman can take folic acid alone or a multivitamin that does not contain iron. This has not been observed to contribute to nausea, vomiting, and constipation in early pregnancy. You can always go back to your regular multivitamins after these symptoms subside.9
6. Get Some Exercise
Taking the time to exercise will not only do you and your little one a lot of good, it will also keep pregnancy-related constipation at bay. Inactive moms-to-be have a greater chance of constipation so make sure you’re active for 20-30 minutes at least three times a week. It will help your intestines work more efficiently by stimulating your bowels.10 Walking, swimming, yoga, light strength training and other simple and moderate exercises are all considered to be safe for pregnancy.
7. Probiotics To The Rescue
Probiotics are naturally present in many foods. They work well to provide pregnancy constipation relief as they alter the colonic flora and might also improve bowel function. You can enrich your diet with probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt and kimchi salad or try probiotic supplements that are available over-the-counter. Though not extensively studied in pregnant patients, but probiotic agents have little to no potential for harm for you or your growing baby.11
8. Try Some Home Remedies
If all else fails, try to stimulate your bowels using some home remedies that have been passed around from generation to generation and probably your grandma to mom.
- One is to drink warm milk before going to bed if you won’t feel nauseous drinking milk. It mostly helps you the morning after. Warm milk before bedtime has been proven to provide a good night’s sleep and ease bowel movements in the mornings.
- Another old favorite is to drink warm lemon water on waking up. Water has the natural ability to soften stool and lemon has high acidic content (ascorbic acid) that can ease any discomfort in the stomach. Together, they work well in relieving constipation.
|↑1, ↑6||Longo, Sherri A., Robert C. Moore, Bernard J. Canzoneri, and Alfred Robichaux. “Gastrointestinal conditions during pregnancy.” Clinics in colon and rectal surgery 23, no. 02 (2010): 080-089.|
|↑2||Prather, Charlene M. “Pregnancy-related constipation.” Current gastroenterology reports 6, no. 5 (2004): 402-404.|
|↑3, ↑4, ↑8||Rungsiprakarn, Phassawan, Malinee Laopaiboon, Ussanee S. Sangkomkamhang, Pisake Lumbiganon, and Jeremy J. Pratt. “Interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy.” The Cochrane Library (2015).|
|↑5, ↑9||Einarson, Adrienne, Caroline Maltepe, Rada Boskovic, and Gideon Koren. “Treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy An updated algorithm.” Canadian Family Physician 53, no. 12 (2007): 2109-2111.|
|↑7, ↑10||Pregnancy And Constipation. APA.|
|↑11||Longo, Sherri A., Robert C. Moore, Bernard J. Canzoneri, and Alfred Robichaux. “Gastrointestinal conditions during pregnancy.” Clinics in colon and rectal surgery 23, no. 02 (2010): 080-089.|