Constipation During Pregnancy: Causes And Cure

Constipation During Pregnancy: Causes And Cure

7 Dec 2021 | 6 min Read

Dr Deepika Gupta

Author | 1 Articles

If you are having constipation, it means that you’re struggling to poop and it happens when the food that your body no longer needs hardens in the lower part of your digestive tract (bowel) instead of moving out as a stool.

Constipation in early pregnancy or throughout is a common problem. According to a study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, three out of four pregnant women experience constipation. You can blame the hormonal changes along with the iron from your prenatal vitamin. Here’s everything you need to know about constipation during pregnancy.

When Does Constipation In Pregnancy Start?

Although constipation can happen in all three trimesters, an expecting woman is most likely to get constipated in the third trimester, when the foetus is the heaviest and puts the most pressure on your bowel.

What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?

Hormonal surges during pregnancy and your daily habits can increase your chances of constipation during early pregnancy and even in the later part. Some of the causes of constipation in pregnancy are:

  1. Progesterone: During pregnancy, due to an increase in the progesterone hormone, the muscles of your body relax. This also includes your intestines. Plus, slower moving intestines means slower digestion and this can lead to constipation.
  1. The foetus: A growing foetus makes the uterus heavier and this extra weight can put more pressure on your bowel, making it harder for waste to travel out of your body.
  1. The iron from your prenatal vitamin: The iron from your prenatal vitamin can also lead to constipation. Although iron helps your body make the blood needed to circulate oxygen throughout the body, too much iron can make it difficult for the bacteria in your bowel to break down food.

It can also cause bloating or gas during pregnancy. Not drinking enough water to soften the waste that’s stuck in your bowel can worsen the scene as the waste can build up and you can have constipation.

  1. Lifestyle: Factors like your diet, the amount of fluids you drink each day, and how much you exercise influence your chances of becoming constipated.

Pregnant women who are not eating enough fibre, drinking enough water, or getting enough exercise to help their digestive system move waste out of the body are more likely to have constipation.

How Can I Prevent Or Treat Constipation In Pregnancy?

You can eat a high fibre diet to prevent constipation. It is advisable to consume 25 to 30 grams per day of dietary fibre from fruits, vegetables, breakfast cereals, whole-grain bread, prunes, and bran to ensure bulkier stools that are easier to poop.

The good news is that there are some pregnancy constipation remedies. Some of the immediate constipation relief during pregnancy home remedies are:

  1. Lemon: Lemon helps in digestion, and helps flush out the toxins and other undigested food. Try to add a lemon to a warm glass of water. It induces bowel contractions that help to pass stools and provides relief.
  1. Lemon or peppermint essential oil: Aromatherapy massage using peppermint or lemon essential oil helps to soften faecal impaction and treat constipation during pregnancy.
A rich source of probiotics, yoghurt aids digestion by altering the microbiota in the bowels and provides a relief from constipation. | Image Source: freepik
  1. Yoghurt: Yoghurt is a rich source of probiotics and aids digestion by altering the microbiota in the bowels. Expecting women can consume a cup of yoghurt if they are constipated.
  1. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that boost metabolism.

You can consume a tablespoon of coconut oil on a daily basis to get relief from constipation.

  1. Green tea: The caffeine present in green tea is a stimulating chemical compound that exhibits mild laxative properties. One of the most effective remedies for constipation during pregnancy!
  1. Apple Juice: Apples are rich in a naturally occurring fibre called pectin and promotes bowel movements and provides relief from constipation.
  1. Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water softens the hard stool and ensures that food moves smoothly through the digestive system.

These were some of the home remedies for constipation during pregnancy.

If you are having constipation during your pregnancy, you can try some of these natural remedies for constipation during pregnancy that will provide relief for sure.

What Remedies Should Not Be Used for Constipation During Pregnancy?

Laxative pills are not recommended for treating constipation in pregnancy as they might stimulate uterine contractions and cause dehydration.

It is advisable to talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter fibre supplement or a laxative or stool softener.

Mineral oils are also not recommended during pregnancy because they reduce nutrient absorption.

What Medications Can I Take to Relieve Constipation When I’m Pregnant? 

If you are unable to get relief from constipation during pregnancy from lifestyle changes, what’s the constipation medicine for pregnancy?

Well, your doctor might prescribe a fibre supplement that can help.

According to medical studies, some of the over-the-counter constipation medications that have no known harmful effects during pregnancy include:

  • Miralax (polyethylene glycol)
  • Fibrecon (calcium polycarbophil)
  • Colace (docusate sodium)
  • Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide)
  • Metamucil (psyllium)

When to See A Doctor for Constipation During Pregnancy

Call a doctor if you experience constipation with nausea and vomiting. Image Source: freepik

It is recommended to call a doctor if you experience constipation with additional symptoms like:

  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Vomiting along with bleeding from the rectum
  • Constipation that lasts for longer than one to two weeks

How Can I Reduce My Risk of Becoming Constipated During Pregnancy?

You can do your part in reducing the risk of becoming constipated during pregnancy by following some of the tips:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Exercise regularly throughout pregnancy after consulting with your doctor.
  • Eat a high fibre diet.
  • Reduce iron supplements.

Conclusion

Constipation and pregnancy are perhaps the two different sides of the same coin. You might have to make some changes to manage constipation during pregnancy. Try to put good habits into place so that your memories of pregnancy don’t include having to suffer through uncomfortable bowel movements. Thank us later!

FAQs

Can constipation hurt the baby during pregnancy?

Constipation during pregnancy might be unpleasant and uncomfortable for you. But it won’t harm your developing baby.

Can pushing too hard to poop cause miscarriage?

Pushing too hard does not cause miscarriage. But it can lead to haemorrhoids and anal fissures which can be very painful and uncomfortable for the expecting mum.

What is the best stool softener for pregnancy?

Stool softeners like miralax (polyethylene glycol), fibrecon (calcium polycarbophil), colace (docusate sodium), milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) and metamucil (psyllium) moisten the stool and make it easier to pass.

These are unlikely to harm the developing baby because their active ingredient is only minimally absorbed by the mum’s body.

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