Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Constipation During Pregnancy: Your Symptoms Manual


What Constipation During Pregnancy Is

Many pregnant women complain of constipation. Signs of constipation include having hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass; fewer than three bowel movements per week; and painful bowel movements.

You may get constipation at any time during your pregnancy, but digestion slows during the third trimester.


Why Constipation During Pregnancy Happens

Higher levels of hormones (especially progesterone) due to pregnancy slow down digestion and relax muscles in the intestinal walls leaving many women constipated. Because the muscles are relaxed, there are fewer contractions to push the food forward, leading to more water absorption. This is what causes the stool to become hard and dry. Plus, the pressure of the expanding uterus on the bowels can contribute to constipation.

How to Relieve Constipation During Pregnancy

Try these to tips to alleviate constipation:

  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily.

  • Avoid caffeine.

  • Eat fiber-rich foods, such as fresh or dried fruit (especially figs and prunes), raw vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads.

  • Walk briskly for at least 20 minutes each day.

Don't take a laxative without talking to your doctor. If you do end up taking a laxative, natural ones are best. They increase the amount of water in the stool, making it softer.


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