Constipation in Pregnancy: 7 Safe Remedies for this Painful Pregnancy Symptom
Tell me something- have you been looking for immediate constipation relief during pregnancy?
There's nothing worse than the bloating and discomfort from not being able to poop! If there is, it's being pregnant and constipated.
Can you believe that 11-38 percent of women will deal with constipation in pregnancy? Some studies even suggest that three out of every four pregnant women will experience some form of this uncomfortable condition that causes gas, bloating and hard, difficult to pass poop.
Basically, if you're pregnant and you’ve been longing to pinch a loaf, you’re not alone!
Ugh. Pregnancy constipation pain is REAL.
The problem with being constipated while you’re expecting is that it can cause you pain and discomfort. Straining while you try to poop can increase your risks of hemorrhoids, varicose veins in your labia and even weaken your pelvic floor. These are some gifts that can keep on giving even after your baby is born, so if you're having any resistance at all, you should address them immediately.
Constipation in pregnancy can start in the first, second or third trimester.
When you’re pregnant, your body produces more of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is responsible for relaxing your smooth muscle tissues so your baby bump can grow. Unfortunately, your bowels are also made of smooth muscle and those hormones can really slow them down.
Lack of Exercise
Another thing that can back you up is the fact that you may not be moving your body as much as you did pre-pregnancy (H E L L O nausea and exhaustion!). It’s pretty amazing how much just 30 minutes of moderate exercise can keep you regular!
Iron in Your Prenatal Vitamins
That iron supplement... not only does it make a lot of women feel nauseous, but you may find that the extra iron can back you up, too.
Your Growing Uterus
That growing uterus can create a physical obstruction for your bowels and it may make it harder for them to move.
Not Enough Fibre in your Diet
Remember when you were young and your mom told you to drink your prune juice? Your mom was on to something! Women need to consume about 30 grams of fibre every single day to stay regular and healthy.
The Benefits of Prune Juice During Pregnancy
Just one cup of prune juice has about 2.6 grams of fibre in it as compared to an apple that has about 2.4 grams. If you're not feeling especially hungry, having a glass of prune juice is a great way to increase your daily fibre.
You can also implement prune juice into your morning routine to get your digestion moving by drinking a cup before your morning coffee.
Consider drinking a cup of prune juice about 30 minutes after you eat a heavy meal to keep things going as well.
Fibre Rich Foods for Constipation in Pregnancy
The good news is that you don't have to eat only bran muffins and prune juice to get the fibre you need! In fact, eating a wide variety of fibre-rich foods for constipation in pregnancy is good for you and your baby as you both benefit from the vitamins and minerals.
Some excellent sources of fibre are fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), prunes, bran cereal and whole-grain bread.
If you're adding fibre to your diet you can maximize your intake by investigating which foods are highest. For example: a cup of prune juice has 2.6 grams of fibre but an avocado has about 7 grams!
Here’s the thing: you may find that you’re not pooping as often as usual, and that’s okay! With all of the changes happening in your body right now, your bowels may just be a little sluggish.
It’s normal to poop three times a day or just three times a week. As long as you’re not straining or uncomfortable, it’s not necessary to hit the toilet every single day.
The easiest and drug-free way to get your bowels moving again is to make some lifestyle changes:
- Increase your fibre intake
- Drink more water (aim for a litre for every 50 pounds you weigh)
- Get regular exercise (RELATED: 5 Reasons to Exercise While You’re Pregnant)
- Take a probiotic daily
- Try to hit the toilet right after eating when your bowels are most active!
- Use a Squatty Potty during bowel movements
- Break down your meals into 5 or 6 smaller meals a day for easier digestion
So what if all of the natural remedies don’t work?
If you're looking for more immediate constipation relief during pregnancy, the following remedies can work.
There’s very little research about the safety of medications for constipation in pregnancy.
The limited information out there tells us that these drugs aren’t widely absorbed by your body which makes them safe to use while you’re pregnant.
The problem is that there are so many options when it comes to choosing an over-the-counter drug for constipation that you may find yourself extremely confused when you hit the drugstore.
The best thing you can do is have a chat with the pharmacist to decide which option is best for you, but I've put together a handy list here for your information!
Bulk-Forming Agents in Pregnancy (Metamucil, FibroCon, Citrucel)
When you consume these, they make your stools more bulky and easier to pass. Because of the way they work, you should drink one to two glasses of water after you take them.
What you need to know: These drugs are safe for long-term use during pregnancy but they may not always work for you. They can also come with some uncomfortable side-effects like gas, bloating and cramping.
Stool Softeners in Pregnancy (Docusate Sodium, Colace)
Stool softeners stimulate your body to draw more water into your bowels and add moisture to your poop to make it easier to pass.
What you need to know: stool softeners are safe for short term use during pregnancy. These drugs could potentially cause an electrolyte imbalance so they’re not recommended for extended use during pregnancy.
Lubricant Laxatives in Pregnancy (Mineral Oil)
Mineral oil coats the lining of your bowels and makes it easier for your stools to hold moisture in to slide on through.
What you need to know: mineral oil is poorly absorbed by your body so it’s considered safe to use during pregnancy. Best taken at night so you can start your day with a poop.
Osmotic Laxatives in Pregnancy (Lactulose, Milk of Magnesia)
Another laxative that draws water into the colon from other tissues in your body, this one also gently stimulates your bowels to move.
What you need to know: Because these drugs gently stimulate your bowels to move, they can create some unpleasant side-effects like farting and bloating. These drugs could potentially cause an electrolyte imbalance so they’re not recommended for extended use during pregnancy.
Stimulant Laxatives in Labour (Dulcolax, Ex-Lax, Senekot)
These drugs work by focusing on your bowels and stimulating them into action.
What you need to know: These pills stimulate your bowels so you may experience uncomfortable cramping. These drugs could potentially cause an electrolyte imbalance so they’re not recommended for extended use during pregnancy.
Constipation is a common pregnancy symptom that can be managed by natural remedies and lifestyle changes. But if you're looking for immediate constipation relief, there are some over-the-counter medications that can help.
Good luck pooping, Mama!
Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!