What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy

Feeling Faint In Pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy

You may feel faint while pregnant. This is due to hormonal changes. Fainting happens if your brain is not getting enough blood and, therefore, not enough oxygen.

You are most likely to feel faint if you stand up too quickly from a chair or out of a bath, but it can also happen when you are lying on your back.

Here are some tips to help avoid feeling faint:

  • try to get up slowly after sitting or lying down
  • if you feel faint when standing still, find a seat quickly and the faintness should pass if it doesn’t, lie down on your side
  • if you feel faint while lying on your back, turn onto your side

It’s better not to lie flat on your back in later pregnancy or during labour. You should avoid going to sleep on your back after 28 weeks as it has been linked to a higher risk of stillbirth.

What Causes Constipation In Pregnancy

Constipation can happen at any time in life, but you may be more susceptible to this condition during the later stages of pregnancy, perhaps when youâre in the third trimester. The potential causes of constipation at this time include:

  • Having higher levels of the hormone progesterone, which can slow down digestion

  • Taking iron supplements, which can irritate your digestive tract

  • Physical changes such as the weight of your uterus putting pressure on your rectum, which can worsen constipation if you already have it.

Increase Your Fiber Intake

Fruits and Salad

Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate that escapes digestion in the small intestine. This non-digestible carbohydrate has a beneficial effect on the gut. Therefore, eating a high-fiber diet is important for healthy bowel movements in pregnant women.

When you eat high fiber foods, it absorbs more water and makes the stools soft. This makes the passage of the stools easier and you dont need to strain or put pressure to pass the stools.

It further adds bulk to the fecal matter, reduces the intestinal transit time and hastens its passage through the gut. This reduces the constipated feeling.

Dietary fiber is available in nature in two different forms:

  • Soluble dietary fiber
  • Insoluble dietary fiber

It is important to consume foods rich in both the types of dietary fiber. Here are some foods that are a great source of dietary fiber:

  • Whole Grain Cereals: brown rice, oats, barley, sorghum, millets, broken wheat
  • Pulses and legumes
  • Fruits and vegetables
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    Asking Us About A Different Prenatal Vitamin

    We believe that a prenatal vitamin is vitally important to the healthy development of your baby. But we can recommend one that has less iron. Iron can be the cause of constipation in pregnant women. If you have been told that you are anemic or have a history of anemia, please consult with us regarding changing your vitamin before making any changes on your own.

    When To See Your Gp

    Home Remedies to Treat Constipation during Pregnancy

    Be sure to contact your GP if you havent been to the loo for a long time and are in pain. Your GP may prescribe laxatives to help encourage a bowel movement, says Mervi.

    As not all stool-softeners and laxatives have been tested on pregnant women, make sure you mention to your pharmacist that youre pregnant. If you can only get to a pharmacy, make sure you tell the chemist that youre pregnant so they can give you a laxative thats safe in pregnancy.

    If youve developed piles, you can get creams and ointments to treat the discomfort, but see your doctor if you get persistent bleeding.

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    Constipation During Pregnancy: Causes Symptoms Treatments

    Taking photos of your pregnancy belly, planning a baby gender reveal party, buying baby clothes – All very fun and exciting things about pregnancy, right?

    While theres no arguing that there are going to be some memorable milestones along the way, there are also going to be some challenges.

    Constipation – A not-so-fun and exciting part of pregnancy. This is one of the many common discomforts that you may experience during your pregnancy. But don’t worry, understanding the cause of your constipation, and ways to prevent it will help to make it better.

    As it is a common symptom that you may or may not feel, youll surely know if youre going through it if youre having trouble going number two — Trust us, youll know.

    Causes And Treatments Of Constipation During Pregnancy

    Causes and treatments of constipation during pregnancy and it can be one of the most uncomfortable situations in addition to all the other physical changes and stress . Fortunately, understanding what causes it, as well as the symptoms and treatments, can prevent this problem.

    Constipation is not much different from constipation at any other time in your life. However, when it occurs during pregnancy , time can be grueling and frustrating in the bathroom even more difficult. This can be an acute problem for some women , but chronic for others, resulting in a lot of nasty side effects that can make it difficult .


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    What Measures Can I Take To Avoid Or Manage Constipation During Pregnancy

    Both avoiding and treating constipation need many of the same actions on the patient’s part.

    You can assist prevent constipation from arising by doing the following things, and if you already have it, you can treat it by doing the following things as well:

    Consume a diet that is high in fiber.

    To achieve optimal health, you should aim to consume between 25 and 30 grammes of dietary fiber each day by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, breakfast cereals, whole-grain bread, prunes, and bran. This helps to ensure more substantial stools that are less difficult to pass.

    Be sure to take in a lot of fluids.

    It is critical to consume a large number of fluids, particularly water when attempting to achieve softer stools by increasing fibre consumption. Every day, you should aim to consume 10 to 12 cups of fluids. The greatest way to assist in the process of eliminating waste from your body is to consume a diet that is high in fibre and to drink enough fluids. Your need for more fluids may rise if you exercise, are in an environment that is hot and humid, or both.

    Exercise routinely

    If you don’t move around much, you increase your risk of developing constipation. Stimulating your bowels with activities like walking, swimming, and other moderate activities will help your intestines perform more effectively. Plan to work out three times a week for a total of twenty to thirty minutes each session.

    Reduce or remove iron supplementation

    Will It Continue After Ive Had The Baby

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    There are several reasons why constipation may continue after birth. Women who have had a caesarean often experience constipation for a few days until their regular bowel movements return. Women who have stiches after a vaginal birth may hesitate on the toilet, which can cause a build-up in their bowels.

    If youve taken strong pain medication after having your baby this may also cause constipation.

    New mothers are often busier than usual in the first few weeks and months of motherhood. It may seem like taking care of yourself has become less of a priority, but your health is no less important now than it was during your pregnancy. Be sure to have plenty of fibre-rich fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains as well as increase your fluid intake while breastfeeding to encourage healthy bowel movements, even when you are busy.

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    Could It Be A Sign Of Something More Serious

    While most cases of constipation are not a sign of illness, sometimes there are complications such as haemorrhoids, faecal impaction or rectal prolapse. In rare cases, constipation can be caused by more serious conditions such as tumours.

    Speak with your doctor if you are concerned, and especially if you notice blood in your stools.

    Nearly Three Out Of Four Women Experience Constipation And Other Bowel Disorders During Their Pregnancies Heres How To Handle It

    Noticing a flutter or two in your belly lately? Its not necessarily your baby kicking. Thanks to pregnancy hormones and an enlarged uterus, you might start feeling bloated, constipated, and generally uncomfortable. Constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids, another common side effect of pregnancy. Heres how to manage and prevent constipation while expecting.

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    While Constipation During Pregnancy Is Uncomfortable & Unfortunately Common There Are Several Ways To Treat It & Ease Discomfort

    Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal symptoms experienced by pregnant women. In fact, constipation during pregnancy affects up to 40 percent of women.

    Experiencing constipation while pregnant can mean passing hard stools, at times painfully. It can also mean having less frequent bowel movements and involve additional symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, cramping and flatulence.

    Why do women experience constipation during pregnancy?

    The main reason pregnancy is thought to cause constipation is due to pregnancy hormones relaxing the bowels and causing them to work more slowly.

    How do you relieve constipation during pregnancy?

    As constipation can cause discomfort during pregnancy, its best to treat or prevent it whenever possible. Some tips that may help to relieve constipation during pregnancy include:

    Eating foods that are high in fibre, such as wholemeal breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, and pulses, such as beans and lentils. You should aim to consume about 30 grams of fibre per day

    Exercising on a regular basis. Walking, swimming or other exercise can help to stimulate your bowels

    Drinking plenty of water try to drink six to eight glasses of fluids each day

    If youre taking iron and calcium supplements, these can make you even more constipated. You can discuss stopping taking these or changing to a different formulation with your doctor

    When should I be worried about constipation during pregnancy?

    You should see a GP if you:

    How To Ease Constipation

    Treating Constipation During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention

    You can ease constipation by:

    • drinking plenty of water – try to have 10 glasses of water a day, about 2.3 litres
    • eating foods that are high in fibre every day – vegetables, wholegrain breads, porridge, fruit, dried fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils
    • staying active – try walking, swimming, pregnancy yoga or pilates
    • going to the toilet when you first feel the urge to have a bowel motion – give yourself plenty of time and take some deep breaths to help relax the pelvic floor

    Only take iron supplements if your GP or midwife has said you need them.

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    Causes Of Constipation In Late Pregnancy

    During the later stages of pregnancy, increased water absorption in your body often leads to the hardening of stools. At this time, the release of progesterone shifts from the ovaries to the placenta. This increases secretion levels, which combined with hard stools, leads to serious constipation. The problem is further accentuated by the growing pressure of the uterus on the rectum which leads to gas formation that blocks the waste from being excreted. The symptoms of this constipation are belly pain, cramps, burping and passing gas.

    Guidance On Managing Constipation

    The first-line treatment for constipation is increasing dietary fibre and fluid intake. Dietary fibre intake can be improved by eating more wholegrain foods, fruit and vegetables, or through wheat or bran fibre supplementation. Where fibre supplementation does not alleviate symptoms, laxatives may be helpful in the short-term, although they can cause adverse side effects such as abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

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    Will The Constipation Extend Beyond The First Trimester

    It can. Thats because some of the top factors for constipation such as increased progesterone and lowered physical activity can continue after your first trimester. Also, your intestines will absorb less water overall, which causes stools to dry out more.

    Later in your pregnancy, these issues are exacerbated by an enlarging uterus, which may slow the movement of feces through your system.

    When To Call The Doctor

    Constipation During Pregnancy | Pregnancy Constipation

    If youve tried everything and youre still struggling or its been a few days since youve actually been able to poop, Greves says its probably time to check in with your doctor or midwife. Its not taboo to talk about poop . And, trust us, once baby comes, itll become a regular part of your vernacular. Consider this practice.

    Constipation in pregnancy is par for the courseits one of the many not-so-enjoyable consequences of those surging hormones. So if youre having a hard time, remember that this too shall pass . Unfortunately, theres no guaranteed way to get immediate constipation relief during pregnancy, but incorporating some healthy habits into your routine can help get things going again. Of course, dont hesitate to reach out to your OB or midwife if you think theres a problem.

    About the experts:

    Michael Cackovic, MD, is an ob-gyn and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He received his medical degree from MCP Hahnemann University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Christine Greves, MD, is a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, Florida. She received her medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine where she also completed her residency.

    , CNM, RN is a certified nurse-midwife at the Mayo Clinic.

    Plus, more from The Bump:

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    What Is Constipation In Pregnancy

    Constant changes in hormones during pregnancy can cause constipation. During the first trimester, these hormones may cause excess progesterone to be released.

    This can slow down movement in your intestines, leading to constipation. For some women, the cause of constipation during this stage is dehydration because they are limited in dietary intake.

    Diets that are low in fiber can cause a bloated feeling, leading to constipation.

    Is Constipation An Early Sign Of Pregnancy

    Constipation may not occur early in many of you, during your pregnancy. However, if some of you might be trying for a baby and suddenly notice that youre facing difficulty while pooping, almost around the time when your period is due, that might be a tip-off. Therefore, for some of you, constipation is indeed an early sign of pregnancy.

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    What Are Some Causes Of Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy

    While many gastrointestinal issues are very common, you may not have experienced any before becoming pregnant. Because they vary, the causes can vary as well. Some common causes or risk factors of gastrointestinal conditions during pregnancy can include:

    • Changes in hormones
    • Physical internal changes as the uterus grows
    • Lack of exercise or activity
    • Taking antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum
    • Viral or bacterial infection
    • Food intolerance or allergy

    Say Yes To Whole Fruits

    11+ Yoga For Constipation Pregnancy

    Fruits contain water, phytochemicals, antioxidants, dietary fiber, fructose and sorbitol. These components of fruit are useful for treating constipation. Lets have a look at which fruits may be beneficial for pregnant women with constipation:


    Kiwi Fruit

    Kiwifruit is loaded with various nutrients, which makes it beneficial for a pregnant womans health. Studies have reported that kiwifruit is a good source of dietary fiber. 100 grams of kiwifruit contain approximately 2-3 grams of fiber. Such a composition helps in relieving constipation and ensures softness of bowel motion.

    Furthermore, this fruit contains actinidine, an enzyme that stimulates the motility of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Thus, it promotes laxation, increases stool frequency, volume and ease of defecation.


    Prunes are dried plums and eating this fruit can avoid constipation during pregnancy. The high content of dietary fiber, sorbitol and fructose in prunes makes it beneficial for treating constipation in pregnant women.

    100 grams of prunes contain 6.1 grams of dietary fiber, making it a great source of fiber. This helps in increasing the stool weight.

    Neochlorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid are two phenolic compounds present in prunes that aid in the laxative effect. Eating prunes can increase the gastric emptying and reduce the intestinal transit time. It even makes the gut bacteria healthier and helps in the clearance of toxins and bad bacteria.

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    When Does Constipation In Pregnancy Start

    So, in many cases, pregnancy constipation strikes you as soon as the progesterone level of hormones increases in the first trimester during the second and third months. However, as the uterus expands to accommodate the baby inside you, with the progression of your pregnancy constipation can be a problem.

    When Should I Contact My Ob

    Constipation is very common during pregnancy. Although it can make you feel like youre all stopped up, its usually not serious. If constipation is impacting your daily activities or eating, or is causing significant pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor.

    For more information or to schedule an appointment with an obstetrician/gynecologist near you, visit the UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital online, or call 1-866-696-2433 .

    Colace® is a trademark of Avrio Health L.P.

    Editor’s Note: This gallery was originally published on November 9, 2014, and was last reviewed on September 22, 2021

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    When Can I Expect Constipation To End While Im Pregnant

    For some women, constipation lasts throughout pregnancy as progesterone levels peak. However, if you change up your eating and exercise habits, things usually begin moving more smoothly. And you can take steps to combat constipation at any point during your pregnancy.

    From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When Youre Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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