5 Tips to Prevent Constipation During Pregnancy

Upset pregnant woman sitting on bed

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Constipation is difficulty having regular bowel movements (BMs). It is a common symptom of pregnancy. However, you do not necessarily have to suffer from constipation or irregular, hard bowel movements, and the pain associated with them when you're pregnant. There are things you can do to keep things moving along and prevent constipation during pregnancy.

Overview

Some people who are pregnant will have constipation that develops after they get pregnant, which is typically related to the hormones of pregnancy (which can slow the digestive system down). Other people suffer from constipation before pregnancy and the condition is simply a continuation and/or amplification of their normal problem.

Constipation can have other side effects. Some people who have constipation will develop hemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels in the rectum which can be very uncomfortable (if they cause pain, itching, or bleeding).

Simple Fixes

Making a few lifestyle changes might help you avoid constipation and might be able to relieve any constipation that you are already experiencing. While these measures might not work for everyone, many people find that regular maintenance helps keep their bowels moving.

Drink More Water

Simply drinking enough water each day can help make your bowel movements more frequent and easier to pass. Staying hydrated is important for everyone, particularly in pregnancy. If you make a point to drink enough water every day (which is good all-around health advice) you'll likely find that you will have fewer problems with constipation.

Eat More Fiber

Fiber is found in natural sources like many fruits and vegetables, also in beans and some grains. These natural sources will help your bowel movements be more regular. You might find it helpful to use prune juice as a natural laxative, should you already be experiencing problems with constipation. Eating a few prunes a day might also help prevent the problem.

Exercise More

Exercise is known for helping to keep your bowels moving regularly. This does not have to be an aerobics class or running several miles. Simply adding more movement to your day can improve your bowel functions.

This can be walking around the neighborhood, or getting in more steps at work. It can be swimming in the pool or dancing with your partner. Anything that moves your body and gets your heart rate up is good for your overall health in pregnancy and beyond.

Watch Your Calcium Intake

Too much calcium can cause constipation. Calcium is found in many foods and supplements, particularly dairy products. If you overdo it on the milk and cheese, you might find your bowels get backed up.

Food sensitivities can sometimes contribute to constipation. Keep track of what you eat to see if certain foods (like dairy or gluten) are related to bouts of constipation.

Ask Your Provider About Medications

Some medications can increase the likelihood that you will have constipation. One big culprit in pregnancy can be iron-laden prenatal vitamins, which are often given to help prevent anemia. If you are having issues with the vitamins, ask your provider if you can switch. You might also try ways to prevent anemia in a nutritional manner.

One study found that certain brands of prenatal vitamins might be able to reduce constipation by up to 30%.

There are medications available to help with constipation, but generally as a last resort. These medications can particularly problematic in pregnancy and you would want to talk to your doctor or midwife before taking anything—even if it is over the counter (OTC).

A Word From Verywell

Before you got pregnant, you might have used fiber pills and laxatives to help relieve the painful symptoms of constipation. However, these medications are not always safe or effective if you are pregnant. Ask your health care provider what the safest option is for you.

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