Constipation during Your Pregnancy - dummies

Constipation during Your Pregnancy

By Joanne Stone, Keith Eddleman, Mary Duenwald

About half of all pregnant women complain of constipation. When you’re pregnant, you may become constipated because the large amount of progesterone circulating in your bloodstream slows the activity of your digestive tract. The iron in prenatal vitamins may make matters worse. Try these suggestions to deal with the problem:

  • Eat plenty of high-fiber foods. Bran cereals, fruits, and vegetables all are good sources of fiber. Some women find it helpful to eat some popcorn, but choose the low-fat kind, without all the butter and added oil. Check the fiber content on package labels and choose foods with higher fiber content.

  • Drink plenty of water. Staying well hydrated helps keep food and waste moving through the digestive tract. Some juices (especially prune juice) may help, while others (such as apple juice) may only exacerbate the problem.

  • Take stool softeners. A stool softener, such as Colace (docusate sodium), isn’t a laxative — it just keeps the stool soft. Stool softeners are safe during pregnancy, and you may take them two to three times a day. Avoid laxatives because they can cause abdominal cramping and, occasionally, uterine contractions.

    For any person, pregnant or not, chronic laxative use should be avoided. If you’re extremely constipated, though, and aren’t at risk for preterm labor, you may want to talk to your practitioner about the short-term use of a very mild laxative, like a glycerin suppository or milk of magnesia.

  • MiraLAX (Polyethylene Glycol 3350): MiraLAX is a great natural way of relieving constipation, and most women find it very effective. Constipation may occur when stool moves slowly through the colon, which could allow too much water to be removed. This can make the stool hard, dry, and difficult to pass.

    The active ingredient in MiraLAX, Polyethylene Glycol 3350, works by replenishing the water to your digestive system, which helps naturally cause a bowel movement. This water both increases the frequency of bowel movements and softens the stool, making it easier to pass. The other good news is that it generally doesn’t have some of the uncomfortable side effects of more potent laxatives, such as cramping, gas, and bloating.

  • Exercise as regularly as you can. Exercise helps constipation, so enjoy some safe exercise (even if it’s only walking).