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How do I Treat Pregnancy Constipation?

By M. DePietro
Updated May 17, 2024
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Women may experience a number of physical changes during their pregnancy. One of the most common changes during pregnancy is constipation. There are several ways to treat pregnancy constipation. As with other treatments during pregnancy, it’s best to consult your doctor before trying any constipation treatment. Typically medical experts recommend eating a high-fiber diet, getting regular exercise and staying well hydrated for most cases of pregnancy constipation.

Pregnancy constipation often occurs because the food travels through the digestive system slower. This may be due to the increase in the level of progesterone in the body. Iron supplements, which are often prescribed during pregnancy, may also lead to constipation.

When bowel movements don’t occur regularly, it can cause feelings of bloating, abdominal pain, and difficulty passing stool. Constipation during pregnancy may not only be uncomfortable, it can lead to hemorrhoids. The extra weight during pregnancy, combined with straining during a bowel movement often causes hemorrhoids to develop.

Some types of laxatives may not be recommended in pregnancy. Other treatments are often suggested first to ease pregnancy constipation. One way to decrease constipation is by increasing fiber intake. Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as prunes, vegetables, and cereals containing bran. The American Pregnancy Association recommends 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day.

Exercising during pregnancy has several health benefits including reducing constipation. Regular cardiovascular exercise can stimulate the bowels and help the intestines work more efficiently. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends 30 minutes of exercise on most days.

Drinking fluids helps food flow more efficiently through the digestive track and may also reduce pregnancy constipation. Water is one of the best choices, as it has zero calories. Limit drinks such as soda, which are high in sugar and calories. Try to drink about 10 cups of fluids a day. If you are exercising or spending time outside in the heat, extra fluids may be needed.

Iron is an important nutrient for pregnant women, but it can contribute to pregnancy constipation. Supplements with a lower amount of iron may be available and recommended. A blood test to check iron levels may be needed prior to lowering the dose or stopping it.

If constipation becomes severe and is causing a lot of discomfort, stool softeners may be suggested. Many stool softeners moisten the stool, which makes it easier to have a bowel movement. According to the Mayo Clinic, stool softeners are considered safe during pregnancy. It is still advisable to ask your doctor what stool softer you should use during pregnancy.

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