Q&A: Constipation During Pregnancy?

Why do I have such bad constipation and what can I do about it? Are there any medications or natural remedies I can take while pregnant?
ByAshley Roman, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
May 2017
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Constipation during pregnancy

During pregnancy, elevated progesterone levels cause smooth muscle to relax, which slows the passage of food through your intestines. This increases water absorption from the bowel and results in constipation. Your rapidly growing uterus, which compresses your intestines and pushes displaces your stomach upward, also contributes to the problem. Although for the most part constipation is mere nuisance, in some cases it does lead to serious medical problems such as hemorrhoids, rectal bleeding and rectal fissures.

First steps in treating constipation

The first step in treating constipation is making sure that you are drinking lots of water (at least 8 glasses a day), consuming enough fiber (as in fruits and vegetables), and getting ample activity (try walking 20-30 minutes daily. If the constipation persists, Metamucil or a mild stool softener such as Colace can help. If you are taking iron supplements, these may be contributing to  your constipation — talk with your doctor about possible alternatives. In general, mineral oils, oral laxatives, enemas and rectal suppositories should be taken only after discussion with your physician, because they may stimulate labor.

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