Expert tips to help relieve constipation during pregnancy

If you hang out with moms, you are probably aware just how much they (ahem, we) talk about our children’s poop. How much, how often and of course, all those badge-of-honor-poopslosion-up-the-onesie stories.

Yet for all the bowel movement talk we do, there’s one area we seem to neglect—our own... or rather, our own lack thereof. But we should! Up to one-third of pregnant women suffer from constipation. And if you are one of them, you understand what an impact it can have on you.

So! Let’s discuss.

What is constipation?

Constipation is when you have three or less bowel movements (poops) in a week. You may also experience small or hard bowel movements and feeling the need to strain when you are in the bathroom.

Why does it happen in pregnancy?

  • The hormones of pregnancy slow everything down, including your GI tract
  • Your changing diet and the way your body utilizes the food you eat
  • Not eating enough fiber or drinking enough water
  • A decrease in exercise.
  • Iron in your prenatal vitamins can lead to constipation as well
  • Pressure from your growing uterus

Is constipation dangerous?

Rarely. The two main things to look out for are fecal impaction and hemorrhoids.

Fecal impaction occurs when the feces gets so hard that it gets stuck in your rectum or colon. This requires immediately medical attention, so if you are constipated, reach out to your provider right away.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus or rectum that occasionally protrude out of your anus. They are more common during pregnancy, and can occur with constipation as well, since you may be straining/pushing extra hard while having a bowel movement.

If you have hemorrhoids you may notice bleeding, swelling, pain or itching, or a lump near your anus. While they are often nothing to worry about, don’t hesitate to reach out to your provider just to make sure.

The biggest problem with constipation is that it’s just plain uncomfortable.

So what can you do about constipation?

The first thing I’ll say is please, please don’t be embarrassed to call your OB or midwife. I promise you, we are so unfazed by stuff like this. Chances are you will be the third “constipation call” of the day. We are here to help you, call us!

To prevent or alleviate constipation, you might try:

  • Increasing foods with fiber, like whole grain cereals and breads, almonds, beans, popcorn, oranges, and oatmeal.
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently instead of three big meals a day.
  • Drink plenty of fluid (about 10 glasses/day).
  • Exercise
  • Talk to your doctor or midwife about laxatives, stool softeners and other medications

Hang in there, mama. This is rough for sure. Please just reach out for help, and know that you’re not alone—except for when you’re in the bathroom. We wont follow you in there.

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