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CONSTIPATION

Constipation in Pregnancy: Causes, Prevention, and Remedies

Remedies to get relief form constipation during pregnancy

Occasional constipation in pregnancy is a frequent pregnancy complaint. It affects up to 38% of pregnant women1 and is most common in the second trimester.2 Growing a baby inside you is a big feat. Add irregular bowel movements or difficult evacuation, and you may start to worry. But you are not alone.

What Causes Constipation in Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, developments happen from week to week. For example, between weeks one and eight, your embryo will develop arm and leg buds, which will become tiny webbed fingers and toes before the end of week eight.3

Your body responds by adapting to the changes that pregnancy brings. And sometimes, some of your body’s responses can cause constipation.

That doesn’t mean you need to deal with uncomfortable bowel movements until you deliver your baby. The right fiber supplement can help, and Metamucil is the #1 recommended fiber supplement brand by ObGyns ‡.

Keep reading to learn about the causes and remedies for constipation in pregnancy.

5 Potential Causes of Constipation During Pregnancy

1. Hormones

When you’re pregnant, the same hormones that help your body get accustomed to carrying a baby for nine months can also cause constipation. Some of the biggest hormonal changes occur in those early months of pregnancy.2 Since constipation occurs mostly during earlier stages of pregnancy, hormones likely play a role in constipation at this stage.

Hormones that can cause constipation during pregnancy include progesterone, relaxin, and aldosterone.

Progesterone

Progesterone levels rise around the second to the third month in the first trimester. The job of progesterone is to stimulate the thickening of the uterine lining to make it possible for a fertilized egg to get implanted.4 However, it can also make your gut muscles move slower than usual .2 When your gut muscles move slowly, it takes a longer time for food to pass through your gut; more water gets reabsorbed from your poop resulting in harder stool.

Relaxin

Another hormone released during pregnancy, known as relaxin, works by preventing muscle contractions and relaxing smooth muscles of the gut.2 The relaxation of smooth muscles can also increase the time it takes for food to pass through your gut, leading to constipation.

Aldosterone

Aldosterone, is another hormone relevant in pregnancy, can increase water absorption.2 This can cause ‘colonic dehydration’ and the formation of hard poop that are difficult to pass.2

2. A diet that lacks fiber

If you are pregnant and not consuming foods rich in fiber content, you may find it difficult to have bowel movements. Fiber-rich foods have several benefits for pregnant women. Beyond the fiber content, these foods tend to be highly nutritious. You can increase your fiber intake by eating foods containing fiber, such as asparagus, avocados, and lentils.

3. A Lack of Physical Activity

If you are not staying physically active during pregnancy, you can run into constipation problems. Routine activity can help to move things along in your gut. Anything from light physical activity like aerobic exercise can help promote bowel movements, as well as having an upright posture as much as possible.6

4. Iron Supplements

Iron deficiency is common in pregnant women.7 Taking prenatal vitamins that contain iron is one of the easiest ways to make sure you and your baby have enough iron during pregnancy. Iron is an important nutrient to have during pregnancy, but it can lead to occasional constipation. If you’re taking a supplement with iron and experiencing occasional constipation during your pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.

5. Pressure from the Uterus

As the fetus grows, your uterus also expands and takes up more space. This puts a lot of physical pressure on your gut. This pressure can slow down the movement of food through your intestines, which results in hard-to-pass stool.

4 Remedies for Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation is common during pregnancy, but there are remedies to help. Keep reading to find out how to avoid constipation during pregnancy.

1. Increase your Fiber Intake

A diet with high fiber content can help keeps your bowel movements regular. Eat foods rich in fiber daily, like the high-fiber foods on this list. Good sources of fiber include apples, bananas, lentils, raspberries, split peas, and whole grain pasta.

Record your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and go-to snacks in a journal. Keeping a food journal can help, once you have records of what you’ve been eating, find out where you can substitute fiber-rich foods. Or add fiber-rich snacks to your diet, like Metamucil Chocolate Fiber Thins, that have 5 grams of fiber in each pack. Talk to your doctor about what fiber-rich foods are best to add during pregnancy.

2. Increase Your Water Intake

Water helps with the ease of movement through the gut. Ensuring you drink enough water each day and stay hydrated helps the body to maintain softer stool that is easier to pass.

3. Exercise Frequently

If you are not staying physically active during pregnancy, you can run into constipation problems. Exercising when pregnant can help to move things along in your gut and maintain the regularity of bowel movements. The safest exercises during pregnancy include brisk walking, swimming, stationary bicycling, and modified yoga or pilates.6

However, it is always important to discuss exercise with your OB/GYN or healthcare provider (HCP) during your early prenatal visits. If your doctor gives you the OK to exercise, you can discuss what activities you can do safely.6

4. Take Metamucil Daily

Constipation does not have to be your reality for the remainder of your pregnancy. Consider taking one of Metamucil’s psyllium powder supplements. Metamucil is a bulk-forming laxative that can treat occasional constipation. Metamucil is the #1 recommended fiber supplement brand by ObGyns‡ Talk to your healthcare provider about taking Metamucil during pregnancy to see if Metamucil is right for you.

  1. Verghese TS, Futaba K, Latthe P. Constipation in pregnancy. Obstet Gynaecol. 2015;17(2):111-115. doi:10.1111/tog.12179

  2. Derbyshire E, Davies J, Costarelli V, Dettmar P. Diet, physical inactivity and the prevalence of constipation throughout and after pregnancy. Matern Child Nutr. 2006;2(3):127-134. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-8709.2006.00061.x

  3. Changes During Pregnancy. Accessed January 25, 2021. <https://www.acog.org/en/Womens Health/Infographics/Changes During Pregnancy>

  4. Hormones During Pregnancy. Accessed January 22, 2021. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/staying-healthy-during-pregnancy/hormones-during-pregnancy

  5. Zerfu TA, Mekuria A. Pregnant women have inadequate fiber intake while consuming fiber‐rich diets in low‐income rural setting: Evidences from Analysis of common “ready‐to‐eat” stable foods. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(10):3286-3292. doi:10.1002/fsn3.1188

  6. Exercise During Pregnancy. Accessed January 25, 2021. <https://www.acog.org/en/Womens Health/FAQs/Exercise During Pregnancy>

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