Constipation is a common complaint among pregnant women and can be uncomfortable and irritating. Pregnant women in particular need to be careful when it comes to relieving constipation as some common over-the-counter laxatives or medications may not be safe for their developing baby.
There are a number of natural ways women can help ease their suffering due to constipation when pregnant that are safe both for themselves and their developing babies.
According to the American Pregnancy Association in March 2017 there are many reasons why women notice an increase in constipation when they are pregnant.
- Prenatal vitamins may contribute to constipation during pregnancy as they contain a high level of iron. Iron tends to have a constipating effect on some women and if the problem is severe a vitamin with a lower iron level may be necessary.
- Not getting as much physical exercise during pregnancy as a woman did before she got pregnant can contribute to constipation.
- Pressure on the intestines by the growing uterus and baby can lead to constipation.
- Pregnancy hormones themselves can lead to constipation as they relax the muscles in the body, including the intestinal muscle.
- Not eating enough fiber during pregnancy can cause constipation.
- Stress and anxiety during pregnancy can cause constipation.
How Can Constipation Be Relieved Naturally When Pregnant?
As of July 2016, Mayo Clinic recommends the following natural ways of relieving constipation during pregnancy:
- Avoid eating three large meals a day. Instead, eat many small meals throughout the day so that the intestines have less work to do at once.
- Drink a lot of water throughout the day. Other fluids are beneficial as well, but the best source of hydration for constipation relief is water.
- Moving the body as much as possible and is safe for each pregnant woman’s health is important. Light exercise done consistently helps keep the digestive system working properly.
- Eating food rich in fiber can help get things moving in the intestines and relieve constipation
Is It Safe to Take Supplements or Medication for Constipation During Pregnancy?
There are some supplements that can be taken during pregnancy to relieve constipation and others that should be avoided. Stimulant laxatives are not recommended nor are they safe for pregnant women to take. These may stimulate the bowel but they can also stimulate premature labor. Pregnant women should never take a stimulant laxative.
Fiber-based laxatives such as Metamucil are safe for pregnant women to take. Fiber supplements may cause some gas and bloat, however, and women should try increasing their dietary fiber intake before resorting to a supplement.
Women who have tried natural and supplemental ways of relieving constipation and who are having little to no success should not be afraid to speak with their doctors. Their physicians may be able to prescribe them a mild, pregnancy safe stool softener that will help ease their constipation discomfort.
Pregnant women should always notify their doctor of any over-the-counter supplement products they are using.