Are There Safe Laxatives For Pregnant Women?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 30, 2022

    Are There Safe Laxatives For Pregnant Women?

    While constipation during pregnancy is fairly common, there’s no doubt that it still causes discomfort, and sometimes, pain. Considering this, are there safe laxatives for pregnant women? Find out here.

    Why Is Constipation Common During Pregnancy?

    Pregnancy-related constipation can occur due to several reasons.

    Firstly, the shift in hormones (increase in progesterone) can relax the intestines. When this happens, they may not contract enough to let stool move along. Hence, you may start getting constipated as soon as your hormones shift to support pregnancy. Likewise, the growing fetus also puts pressure on your bowel, triggering constipation.

    But, of course, lifestyle factors also come into play. Inadequate intake of fiber and water, for instance, can result in constipation.

    Laxatives For Pregnant Women

    Before a doctor recommends laxatives for pregnant women, they first encourage safe home remedies. These include increased intake of fiber, adequate hydration, and appropriate exercise.

    If none of the home remedies work, they might recommend adding one of the following:

    Stool Softeners

    Stool softeners work by drawing water into the intestine, thus softening the stool, which makes defecation more comfortable.

    Experts say stool softeners are generally safe for pregnant women because their ingredients are only minimally absorbed by the body. Thus, they are not likely to affect the growing fetus.

    Examples of stool softeners are Colace and docusate sodium. Besides these, the doctor can prescribe Milk of Magnesia.

    Bulk-Producing Agents

    Another possible medication that a doctor may prescribe a pregnant woman is a bulk-producing agent. These agents often add bulk and water to the stool, allowing it to pass more easily.

    One example of a bulk-producing agent is Metamucil, which is essentially a fiber supplement.

    Reminders: Taking Laxatives For Pregnant Women

    The first – and most important – rule when it comes to laxatives for pregnant women is to always seek medical advice before taking anything. Each person is different. What may be a good choice for one person is not necessarily good for you, too.

    Below are some of the other important reminders:

    • Be extra careful with stimulant laxatives. Stimulant laxatives work by stimulating the intestines to move stool along, but there are reports of stomach cramps as side effects.
    • Be extra careful with oil lubricants (like cod liver oil). Lubricant laxatives work by keeping water in the stool, allowing for easier defecation. However, experts say they might hinder the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.
    • Bulk-forming laxatives may be safe for long-term use as they are not absorbed by the body. However, they are not always effective. They are also associated with side effects, such as cramps and bloating.
    • It is crucial that you do not use laxatives for long periods regardless of their safety. The longer you use them, the higher the chance of experiencing side effects and that you will become dependent on them.
    • Finally, take laxatives strictly as prescribed.

    Continue With Home Remedies

    After the doctor gives you the safe laxatives for pregnant women, they will most probably still instruct you to make lifestyle changes to treat and prevent constipation.

    These include:

    • Eating more fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
    • Drinking more water. You can also add soup, fresh juice, and tea to your diet.
    • Performing physical activities. Be sure to ask your doctor about the appropriate exercise for your stage of pregnancy.
    • Adding probiotics to your diet. Probiotics help the gust function properly. Popular sources include yogurt and probiotic milk.

    Key Takeaways

    Pregnancy-related constipation is common. The good news is that besides lifestyle changes, there are safe laxatives for pregnant women. Stool softeners and bulk-forming agents are some of the laxatives deemed generally safe for expectant mothers. However, consult your doctor first before taking any kind of laxative.

    Learn more about Pregnancy Here.

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

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 30, 2022


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