How to prevent constipation in pregnancy
Updated: May 11, 2020
Even if you never had constipation before you were pregnant, you will likely experience it now. The hormone progesterone is elevated during pregnancy and it slows down your bowels. As the baby gets bigger and presses on your bowels, that can also make it harder to empty the bowels. There are some easy things you can do to prevent constipation...
1. Drink plenty of water.
There isn't an exact amount of water you need a day - that depends on how active you are, how hot it is outside, how much salt you ate and a bunch of other factors.
If your urine is clear to a light yellow, you're hydrated.
If it's more yellow or darker, then you are not adequately hydrated and you need to drink more water. Now.
If you're not hydrated, your stools will be hard like rocks. Ouch.
2. Fiber. Embrace it.
Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal or chia pudding. Do you know how much fiber chia seeds have? It's unreal.
Eat more apples, vegetables, real food.
Make sure you get some fiber in your diet everyday.
3. Avoid constipating foods like cheese, dairy, red meat, and too much iron.
I don't recommend you take an iron supplement unless you need to, because they can be very constipating.
Also, watch your intake of dairy - milk, cheese, ice cream - they all tend to slow your bowels as well and affect some women more than others.
3. Stool softeners
We usually recommend over-the-counter stool softeners.
They're not laxatives, so they don't make you go to the bathroom. They just help to make it easier when you do go.
You will want these after the baby comes too.
A standard dose would be colace (docusate) 100mg twice a day.
4. Increase your magnesium intake
So in high-doses, magnesium is a laxative and we do NOT advise these in pregnancy as they can potentially cause contractions.
However, in moderation, magnesium does help keep the bowels moving.
Good sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and salmon.
Check with your doc first to make sure it's OK, but you could consider a supplement as well.
It is safe in moderation
Caffeine does stimulate the bowels and it is OK for you to drink one cup of coffee or tea.
This works best when you feel like you need to go but it's just not coming.
6. Get some exercise.
Go for a walk, do some prenatal yoga.
Move your body, move your bowels. (I made that up myself)
Staying active will absolutely help.
Constipation is one of the most common complaints among my pregnant patients. It can be extremely painful and worrisome, so avoiding it as much as possible is worth your while. Preventing constipation will also help prevent hemorrhoids, which can be just awful and may last long beyond the pregnancy.
Nobody likes to talk about constipation, so follow my tips above so you won't have to.