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Constipation During Pregnancy: How to Manage the Discomfort

Constipation During Pregnancy: How to Manage the Discomfort

Constipation during pregnancy is pretty common among women, although it varies based on the stages of pregnancy. Some women get constipated during the first trimester, while some are affected only later on. Most of the time, constipation during pregnancy home remedies can provide relief to the discomfort, but there are also cases when you’ll need medical intervention.

How Common Is Constipation During Pregnancy?

It is not unusual for women to get constipated during any of the stages of pregnancy. One definite reason for this is the fact that the progesterone hormone increases during pregnancy.

Progesterone is responsible for relaxing the smooth muscles all throughout the body, including the digestive tract leading to food getting passed through the intestines slower than usual. The iron supplements that you take to supplement your state can also make your constipation worse.

Symptoms of Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy has basically the same symptoms as common constipation, which may include the following:

  • Fewer bowel movements
  • Straining during bowel movement
  • Small or hard stools
  • Bloating
  • A feeling that everything did not come out

Constipation during pregnancy remedies may relieve you of the symptoms after a day or two, but when your constipation becomes frequent, then it could be a sign of something serious. Consult your doctor if you have the following symptoms:

Straining when passing stool can also lead to hemorrhoids, which are apparently swollen veins surrounding the rectal area. Hemorrhoids are uncomfortable but do not usually pose as a serious problem. If you experience rectal bleeding, call your doctor immediately.

When Should I See My Doctor?

It is important to seek your doctor’s advice before you take any medication. Before trying constipation during pregnancy remedies, you should have the go-signal of your doctor to ensure you and your baby’s safety. See a doctor as soon as possible if you experience the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Hard and dry stool that lasts for more than 1 week
  • Bleeding
  • Absence of relief despite taking medication

Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy is believed to be caused by hormonal changes. The hormone progesterone is responsible for relaxing intestinal muscles to relieve pressure on the expanding uterus. This in turn slows down the travel of food in the intestines.

Generally, pregnancy brings a mix of emotions such as joy, anxiety, and fear, which tend to trigger hormonal imbalances. Decreased water intake, minimal exercise, and low-fiber diet can also cause hard stool passing.

During pregnancy, you also need to increase your iron intake, and sometimes, iron tablets can also cause constipation. To counteract this, drink plenty of water. Talk to your health care provider if you have other concerns.

constipation during pregnancy

Risks for Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy typically doesn’t last long. However, there are cases when chronic constipation may cause fecal impaction, which needs to be removed by a doctor.

Additionally, continued and recurrent use of laxatives may lead to dependency and electrolyte imbalance. If you have health problems like diabetes, speak to your doctor immediately.

How Is Constipation During Pregnancy Diagnosed?

Since constipation during pregnancy is not uncommon, there’s usually nothing to worry about. Constipation is caused by hormonal changes. Aside from changes in your weight, body form and other signs of pregnancy, constipation may also occur either in the earlier stages of pregnancy or in the later phases.

Treatment

There are many constipation remedies which you can try so long as you have your doctor’s advice.

1. Drink Plenty of Water

Water is extremely important, especially now that you’re pregnant. As you increase your fiber intake, you should also supplement it with lots of fluid every day. High fiber plus plenty of water will help you eliminate waste faster and easier.

2. Maintain a High-Fiber Diet

Eat fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber daily. You can also add whole-grain bread and cereals into your diet.

3. Exercise Regularly

Of course, it doesn’t have to be strenuous. Inactivity can actually increase your chance of constipation. Walking is your best bet. You can also try other moderate exercises to help stimulate your bowel movement. Before trying a new exercise or work out, ask your doctor about it.

4. OTC Medication

Constipation during pregnancy remedies may include using rectal suppositories to soften hard and dry stool. Speak to your doctor before using any.

5. Manage Iron Intake

Iron supplements contribute a lot to hard bowel movement. However, iron is an imperative aspect in good pregnancy nutrition. Discuss with your doctor other options for your iron supplementation

Key Takeaways

Constipation during pregnancy is common so there’s nothing to be worried about, unless you have other health complaints. For the most part, constipation tends to go away after a couple of days, but you can also do your part to relieve you of the symptoms.

Eating high fiber food and drinking plenty of water contribute a lot in easing your condition. Stay away from soda and alcoholic drinks. Walking and yoga can also keep you fit and healthy. More importantly, listen to your body’s needs. If you feel the urge to pee or pass stool, don’t put it off.

Constipation during pregnancy happens to most women all over the world. If you have other health complications, it is recommended that you seek your doctor’s advice before taking any medication or other constipation remedies.

Learn more about Pregnancy here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Constipation During Pregnancy, https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/constipation-during-pregnancy/, Accessed Sept 4, 2020

Treating Constipation During Pregnancy, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418980/, Accessed Sept 4, 2020

Constipation in Pregnancy, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324379, Accessed Sept 4, 2020

Importance of optimal fiber consumption during pregnancy, http://www.ijwhr.net/pdf/pdf_IJWHR_13.pdf, Accessed October 13, 2021

Iron supplementation during pregnancy: what are the risks and benefits of current practices? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17486170/, Accessed October 13, 2021

 

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Written by Vincent Sales Updated Dec 15, 2021
Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD