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Most moms-to-be will get constipation at some point during their pregnancy. Learn what causes constipation and get tips for preventing and easing the discomfort.
Learn more about constipation during pregnancy.
Animation by: Nick Hilditch
Constipation during pregnancy
You may have noticed, along with your glowing skin and silky hair, the uncomfortable feeling of constipation.
What causes constipation during pregnancy?
One reason for constipation is an increase in progesterone, a hormone that relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract. As a result, food is processed more slowly. Later in pregnancy, you may experience constipation as your growing baby puts more pressure on your rectum, slowing your bowels.
What can I do about constipation?
Eat high-fiber foods, like whole grain cereal, beans, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Add a couple of tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your bowl of cereal or fruit in the morning, and follow it with a glass of water. Drink water throughout the day – you'll know you’re drinking enough if your urine is clear. Drinking a glass of juice, especially prune juice, can really help. Exercise regularly. Your bowels are most likely to be active after meals, so make time to use the bathroom after you eat. Unless you're anemic, you might want to take a prenatal vitamin with less iron, which can cause constipation too.
When should I contact my healthcare provider?
If this advice doesn't help, talk to your healthcare provider about over-the-counter fiber supplements. Constipation is common during pregnancy, but if you experience constipation with abdominal pain or diarrhea, or if you notice any mucus or blood, call your healthcare provider.