Constipation affects approximately half of all women at some point during their pregnancy.
Constipation occurs when there is abdominal pain or discomfort, difficult and infrequent bowel movements, and the passage of hard stools.
What causes constipation during pregnancy?
Constipation in pregnant women is thought to occur due to hormones that relax the intestinal muscle and by the pressure of the expanding uterus on the intestines. This causes food and waste to move slower through your system.
Here are other common causes of constipation during pregnancy:
- Worry and anxiety
- Minimal physical exercise
- Low-fiber diet
- Iron tablets can cause constipation in some women
How to prevent or treat constipation during pregnancy?
Here are a few things that you can do to help prevent or treat constipation:
- Eat a high fiber diet such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain
- Drink a lot of fluids, ideally 10 to 12 cups of water a day. It is the combination of a high fiber diet and plenty of liquids that best help you eliminate your waste.
- Exercise routinely. Walking, swimming and other moderate exercises help the intestines work by stimulating your bowels.
- Reduce, eliminate or switch to a different type of iron supplements. Talk to your health care provider about checking your iron levels and recommendations to manage iron intake during pregnancy if it causes you constipation.
When to get medical help?
If you have tried changing your diet and exercising more but your symptoms have not got better, you should consult with your doctor. Do not take laxative pills unless your doctor prescribed it.
- Constipation in Pregnancy, NHS, (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/common-pregnancy-problems/)
- Treating Constipation During Pregnancy, NCBI, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418980/)
- Pregnancy and Constipation, American Pregnancy Organization, (https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/constipation-during-pregnancy/)