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Why Does Pregnancy Cause Constipation

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How Is Constipation Treated During Pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy

The first step in treating constipation is to increase the fluids and fibre in your diet. Eating wholegrain foods, fruit and vegetables can often resolve constipation. If symptoms continue, then fibre supplements or laxatives may be a short-term solution however, it is always better to stimulate the bowel with a healthy diet rather than take medications. Taking laxatives can sometimes result in side effects such as abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

Varicose Veins In Pregnancy

Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen. They can be uncomfortable but aren’t harmful. They most commonly affect leg veins.

You can also get varicose veins in the vaginal opening , although these usually get better after the birth.

If you have varicose veins, you should:

  • avoid standing for long periods of time
  • try not to sit with your legs crossed
  • try not to put on too much weight, as this increases the pressure
  • sit with your legs up as often as you can to ease the discomfort
  • try compression tights, which you can buy at most pharmacies they won’t prevent varicose veins but can ease the symptoms
  • try sleeping with your legs higher than the rest of your body use pillows under your ankles or put books under the foot of your bed
  • do foot and other antenatal exercises, such as walking and swimming, which will help your circulation

Try these foot exercises:

  • bend and stretch your foot up and down 30 times
  • rotate your foot 8 times one way and 8 times the other
  • repeat with the other foot

How To Treat Constipation Before Your Period

Whether or not it happens during your period, increasing fiber intake is usually a good treatment for constipation. It may be helpful to eat meals that include whole wheat breads, high-fiber cereals, and a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid fatty, sugary foods, and drink plenty of fluids to maintain regularity.

Exercise and other forms of physical activity might also be helpful in preventing constipation. Movement improves blood and oxygen circulation, which helps keep the bowels active. Regular exercise not only alleviates constipation before your period, it could tackle other premenstrual symptoms as well.

Remember that you can log changes in bowel movements, such as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, in the Flo app. This makes it easy to spot any correlations between these conditions and whatever stage of the menstrual cycle youre currently in.

If the tips above fail to relieve PMS constipation and youre still having irregular bowel movements, seek medical attention. A health care provider will be able to investigate potential digestive disorders.

Read Also: What To Give A 5 Month Old For Constipation

Skin And Hair Changes In Pregnancy

Hormonal changes taking place in pregnancy may make your nipples and the area around them go darker. Your skin colour may also darken a little, either in patches or all over.

Birthmarks, moles and freckles may also darken. You may develop a dark line down the middle of your stomach. These changes will gradually fade after the baby is born, although your nipples may remain a little darker.

If you sunbathe while pregnant, you may find you burn more easily. Protect your skin with a high-factor sunscreen and don’t stay in the sun for a long time. Read more about sunscreen and sun safety.

Swelling In The Feet And Legs During Pregnancy

Natural Solutions for Constipation During Pregnancy

Pressure from your growing uterus on the blood vessels carrying blood from the lower body causes fluid buildup. The result is swelling in the legs and feet.

Additional weight during pregnancy can also make your feet bigger. Plus, pregnancy hormones loosen your ligaments and muscles so your pelvic joints open up to get ready for childbirth. This affects your whole body, even your feet. Call your doctor if any swelling is more than mild or if it suddenly gets worse.


  • Try not to stay on your feet for long periods of time. Avoid standing in one place.
  • Drink plenty of fluids .
  • Avoid foods high in salt .
  • Elevate your legs and feet while sitting. Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing tight clothing can slow circulation and increase fluid retention.
  • Soak your feet in cool water.
  • Keep moving. Exercise your legs to keep fluid from building up.
  • Don’t wear tight shoes choose supportive shoes with low, wide heels.
  • Keep your diet rich in protein too little protein can cause fluid retention.
  • Notify your health care provider if your hands or face swell. This may be a warning sign of preeclampsia.
  • Rest on your side during the day to help increase blood flow to your kidneys.

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What Can I Do To Help Prevent Constipation

There are several lifestyle changes you can make that help prevent constipation:

  • Include foods that are high in fibre in your diet such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain creals, fruit, vegetables and pulses like beans and peas
  • Drink plenty of water you shouldnt be thirsty
  • Aim to move regularly to keep muscles toned gentle exercise includes walking, swimming or yoga
  • Take iron supplements if needed, but some can cause constipation if you become constipated ask your doctor about alternatives
  • What Causes Pregnancy Constipation

    According to Temeka Zore, MD, OB/GYN, reproductive endocrinologist, and infertility specialist at Spring Fertility, there are a few reasons why many pregnant people deal with constipation. Unsurprisingly, hormones are partly to blame. “Pregnancy is a high hormonal state dominated by elevated estrogen and progesterone levels,” Dr. Zore says. “Progesterone in pregnancy causes muscle relaxation, and your bowels are composed of smooth muscle. So the high progesterone leads to relaxation of the smooth muscle in the colon and to reduced activity, thus increasing the likelihood of constipation.”

    Besides that, integrative OB/GYN Felice Gersh, MD, says increased iron intake can also contribute to pregnancy constipation. While it’s important to up iron consumption during pregnancy to make blood for your baby, Dr. Gersh says iron can be constipating.

    “Another reason could be being less active during pregnancy, which can also lead to constipation,” Dr. Gersh says. Plus, she says many pregnant people often don’t drink enough water. “They may be drinking less because they don’t want to have to pee so often, but not drinking enough water can slow down the digestive process,” she says, which can make constipation worse.

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    Your Position On The Toilet

    Having a good position on the toilet can help when you are emptying your bowels.

  • Use a small step or footstool under your feet. This helps you to get into the best position.
  • Lean forward, as much as your bump allows. Put your elbows on your knees. Try and keep your back straight.
  • Do not strain, and do not hold your breath. Taking long, slow, deep breaths through your mouth will help your tummy muscles relax.
  • First Poop After Delivery

    Constipation during Pregnancy – Causes, Signs & Remedies

    After a vaginal delivery, its only normal to be a little anxious about the first bowel movement after giving birth.

    You might worry about additional soreness down below or irritating stitches if you had some tearing. Of course, this is only if youre able to go. Pain medication you receive during and after labor can make your muscles a bit sluggish, initially causing constipation.

    When youre ready to go, taking a stool softener and drinking plenty of water and juice can make your first poop after delivery easier.

    It also helps to have a pain reliever on hand, and maybe witch hazel cleansing pads, to reduce burning and inflammation. The important thing to remember is dont strain.

    Let things flow naturally to avoid hemorrhoids and anal fissures, which can cause more pain and discomfort.

    Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Bloating Fast

    Nearly Three Out Of Four Women Experience Constipation And Other Bowel Disorders During Their Pregnancies Here’s How To Handle It

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    Noticing a flutter or two in your belly lately? It’s not necessarily your baby kicking. Thanks to pregnancy hormones and an enlarged uterus, you might start feeling bloated, constipated, and generally uncomfortable. Constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids, another common side effect of pregnancy. Here’s how to manage and prevent constipation while expecting.

    What Are The Causes Of Constipation Right After Conception

    In most cases women relate constipation before missed period to decreased water intake. However, it is good to note that your body undergoes a lot of changes to sustain the pregnancy. Constipation in early pregnancy is as a result of

  • Hormonal changes: After conception, even before a missed period your body starts to prepare itself to carry the pregnancy. Progesterone, a hormone which plays a significant role in softening the muscles in readiness for childbirth increases in level, this hormone causes relaxation of the smooth muscles throughout the body.
  • Perinatal iron supplements: Ironically the iron supplements that you have been taking can be the source of constipation in early pregnancy! Having to stop taking your supplements because of constipation is not a good idea. Simply visit your doctor and let them know what know about your situation and they will urgently provide a solution.
  • Changes in dietary intake: Right after conception, most women develop cravings, sugary refined foods are usually what most women opt for. It is this sudden change in diet from a high fiber diet to a highly processed one often leads to acute constipation.
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    Constipation During Pregnancy: Five Ways To Get Things Moving Again

    You expected morning sickness and fatigue during your pregnancy but constipation and hemorrhoids? Unfortunately, irregular bowel movements and constipation are common pregnancy complaints. And all that straining can lead to painful hemorrhoids swollen veins in the rectum.

    Pregnancy isnt always the most comfortable time. Constipation and hemorrhoids can heighten discomfort even more. Being unable to have regular bowel movements can make you feel even more bloated and miserable. So, whats slowing things down?

    Hyagriv Simhan, MD, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, says many things cause constipation during pregnancy. For one, progesterone relaxes the muscles of the intestines, which slows down your gastrointestinal tract.

    Also, your increased blood supply requires more fluid intake. Not drinking enough can leave you dehydrated and contribute to slow bowel movements. The iron in your prenatal vitamins might also cause constipation.

    Trouble Sleeping During Pregnancy

    What To Do About Constipation During Pregnancy

    Finding a comfortable resting position can become difficult later in pregnancy. And your ballooning belly and bathroom breaks aren’t the only things keeping you up. From backaches to heartburn to anxiety, a wide range of concerns can affect slumber. Hormones can also disrupt your sleep patterns, leaving you exhausted by day and wide awake by night.

    Even though you may not be sleeping well, now is when you need sleep the most. Your body needs to rest so it can feed and house your growing baby.


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    Constipation In Pregnancy Causes

    During pregnancy, the body produces more female hormones than normal. It is the job of these hormones to make sure that the pregnancy develops normally. But they also automatically slow down the woman’s intestinal movements.

    One of these hormones, called progesterone, acts by relaxing muscle. The wall of the bowel is made of muscle and relaxes, and so is less able to move food and bodily waste along.

    Pregnant women should make sure their diet is rich in fibre and includes plenty of liquid. That is the best way of guaranteeing normal intestinal activity.

    Reasons For Premenstrual Constipation

    Progesterone is usually to blame for constipation before your period. Levels of this particular hormone spike before the onset of monthly menstruation, and it slows down the digestive system.

    Immediately after ovulation, progesterone drastically increases. This essentially leads to constipation by delaying the movement of food through the bowels.

    Thankfully, PMS constipation typically gets better once menstruation actually begins. This is a direct result of a rapid drop in progesterone levels during your period. Some people experience temporary diarrhea when this happens, since the hormone previously responsible for slowing down the digestive system is suddenly absent.

    Another contributing factor for PMS diarrhea is a sudden boost of prostaglandins a hormone-like substance produced by the endometrial cells. If present in extremely large amounts, prostaglandins may find their way into the muscles lining the bowels. While there, they encourage the intestines to contract and move the bowels very quickly.

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    Prevention And Home Remedies

    Having infrequent bowel movements or stools that are difficult to pass can be quite uncomfortable even at the best of times, but these symptoms of constipation can be even more unpleasant when youâre pregnant and dealing with a host of other aches and pains.

    You may wish there were a miracle cure, or a medical formula, for immediate relief from your pregnancy constipation, but unfortunately there isnât. Instead, focus on changes you can make to your diet and levels of activity, which may get things moving in time.

    Here are some you can take to help prevent or relieve constipation during pregnancy:

    • Drink lots of fluids, such as water, prune juice, and other 100 percent fruit juices.

    • Consume high-fiber foods, aiming for at least 25 grams per day. Include vegetables, fruits, beans, whole-grain products, and bran cereal in your diet. Increasing your fiber intake suddenly can cause a side effect of excess gas, so take care to eat your meals slowly and avoid swallowing too much air. Also, avoid carbonated drinks and chewing gum to help prevent a build-up of gas.

    • Exercise regularly. Check with your healthcare provider to find out what you can safely do. Even simply walking more can help encourage your digestive system to get going.

    • Instead of eating three large meals a day, eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to make the food easier to digest.

    Abdominal Pain Or Discomfort

    Is constipation during pregnancy normal. If so, what can I do about it?

    Sharp, shooting pains on either side of your stomach may result from the stretching tissue supporting your growing uterus. These pains may also travel down your thigh and into your leg.


    • Change your position or activity until you are comfortable avoid sharp turns or movements.
    • If you have a sudden pain in your abdomen, bend forward to the point of pain to relieve tension and relax the tissue.
    • Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad to your back, or take a warm bath or shower.
    • Try a massage.
    • Make sure you are getting enough fluids.
    • Take Tylenol occasionally.
    • Contact your health care provider if the pain is severe or constant or if you are less than 36 weeks pregnant and you have signs of labor.

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    How To Deal With Constipation During Pregnancy

    Constipation is often an early sign of pregnancy, and sometimes it continues for all nine months . Here’s what you can do to get relief from pregnancy constipation.

    Both of Adele Hedricks pregnancies were marred by months of cramping, bloating and gassiness thanks to constipation, which affects 11 to 38 percent of pregnant women. It added so much more discomfort to pregnancy, says the Bowmanville, Ont. mom of two. When she developed painful hemorrhoids as a result of straining, Hedrick knew it was time to put some serious effort into softening her stools. I focused on drinking lots of water and eating whatever fibre I could get my hands on, she says. All-Bran was my best friend.

    Will It Affect My Baby

    If youre pregnant, you dont need to worry that constipation will affect your baby since the discomfort occurs in the mothers gut and bowels and isnt passed on to the baby. Most laxatives are not well absorbed into the bloodstream and can be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but always check with your pharmacist before taking a medicine while pregnant.

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    How Is Constipation During Pregnancy Diagnosed

    Your healthcare provider may ask you how much youre pooping and what your stools look like. Other questions about your daily habits can help your provider find out whats likely causing your constipation or making it worse. Your provider may ask:

    • What your diets like and how much youre drinking each day.
    • If youre exercising or getting enough physical activity.
    • What medicines or supplements youre taking.

    What Can Pregnant Women Take For Constipation

    15 Effective Home Remedies To Treat Constipation During Pregnancy ...

    Pregnancy constipation pain can be uncomfortable. If youre wondering what over-the-counter options you can take, the good news is that stool softeners are generally considered a safe and effective option, Greves says. These medications help add moisture to your stool and make it easier to pass. Still, talk to your doctor before using any medication or supplement in pregnancy. One treatment option you should avoid altogether is laxatives Greves notes that these can cause dehydration.

    Recommended Reading: How To Stop Leaky Gut Syndrome

    When Should I Contact My Ob

    Constipation is very common during pregnancy. Although it can make you feel like youre all stopped up, its usually not serious. If constipation is impacting your daily activities or eating, or is causing significant pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor.

    For more information or to schedule an appointment with an obstetrician/gynecologist near you, visit the UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital online, or call 1-866-696-2433 .

    Colace® is a trademark of Avrio Health L.P.

    Editor’s Note: This gallery was originally published on November 9, 2014, and was last reviewed on September 22, 2021

    Constipation During Early Pregnancy

    In the very early stages of pregnancy, hormone levels begin to surge.

    One of the main hormones of pregnancy is progesterone.

    Progesterone is produced by a womans ovaries and adrenal glands until the placenta is developed enough to take over the task.

    One of the main actions of progesterone is to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus.

    This prevents the body from expelling the pregnancy.

    Progesterone also slows the movement of the intestine and bowel.

    This means food takes longer to pass through. The longer the food is in the intestine, the more water is absorbed from the waste.

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