8 Tips for Mild-Moderate Constipation During Pregnancy

Your bundle of joy may also be caus­ing you pain and sad­ness; wel­come to con­stip­a­tion in pregnancy!

Progesterone slows down bowel move­ments. We can pre­vent it!

If you are already quite con­stip­ated and have not gone to the wash­room at all in sev­er­al days, reach out to your OB/​GYN or mid­wife or MD as you may need addi­tion­al sup­ports, and you want to be sure they are safe! Here are some tips to help you pre­vent or move things along…

8 Tips for Mild-Moderate Constipation During Pregnancy

  1. Water, water, water
    Gone are the days of dehyd­ra­tion ladies. Get a 1 L bottle con­tain­er, and fill it up and drink it twice daily. You’ll need it (although your blad­der may not love this!)
  2. Soluble and insol­uble fibre
    • Chia seeds: 2 table­spoons in cer­eal, or soaked with prunes (see Aviva Romm’s Natural Pregnancy book) daily for fibre or you could do a daily Chia Seed Pudding (see Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon cookbook)
    • Prunes: 4 – 5 day, or 1÷21 cup of prune juice
    • Oats and oatmeal
    • Hemp hearts
    • Metamucil
    • Nuts — Fibrous, but don’t for­get the water
  3. Veggies!
    Notice I’m not say­ing fruit? Fruit, while it does have a lot of nat­ur­al fibre, can be over­em­phas­ized in the diet, and it’s much high­er in sug­ar. One excep­tion is 12 an apple daily as the skins are very fibrous, but apples can also con­trib­ute to heartburn…so not the best choice either! To keep things simple, eat really decent amounts of the fol­low­ing veg­gies (12 servings a day MINIMUM).
    **I also real­ize how unreal­ist­ic this is as a com­ment if you are naus­eous or just turned off from cer­tain foods. Please pick the ones you can stom­ach, and even if it’s 12 cup daily, it’s def­in­itely bet­ter than nothing!**
    • Kale
    • Collard Greens
    • Carrots
    • Celery (organ­ic please)
    • Cucumbers (skin on)
    • Broccoli and cauli­flower (don’t go too crazy here, as they do cre­ate a lot of gas, which may cause addi­tion­al pres­sure if you are already hav­ing gas pains)
  4. Magnesium
    Ahh mag­nesi­um, the saviour of the con­stip­ated colon. Aim for approx­im­ately 300 – 400 mg/​night for hard stools. Magnesium cit­rate and Magnesium oxide will be bet­ter choices than gly­cin­ate, how­ever mag­nesi­um gly­cin­ate is very calm­ing for busy minds and anxi­ety, or rest­less legs. Good old Milk of Magnesia is safe in preg­nancy (see motherisk.org)
  5. Probiotics and/​or yogurt
    There are some great preg­nancy pro­bi­ot­ics on the mar­ket like HMF Maternity (Seroyal) but any good bac­teri­al com­bin­a­tion with a mix of good bac­teria (see the com­pan­ies New Roots, Metagenics, Innovite, NFH where pos­sible). If you don’t feel com­fort­able tak­ing a pill, yogurt (plain) with good cul­tures like Liberte is a good idea.
  6. Tummy rubs
    You or a loved one can do this easy little trick!
    1. Lie down, and find your pubic bone.
    2. Move your fin­gers to the right and make little circles going from your pubic bone to your hip bone along your stom­ach, up to your rib­cage, along the rib­cage, and down the oth­er side to your left hip bone and pelvis.
      If you feel ten­der­ness, it’s prob­ably poo. I know, gross, but bet­ter out than in! This gently stim­u­lates the bowels to con­tract. You may even pass a little gas; burp­ing or otherwise!
  7. Exercise
    Walking, espe­cially after a meal, can relieve gas, burp­ing, and gently mas­sages the colon. You can even do light tummy rubs while you walk around the block! Squats also move the bowels, as does yoga. Check out this link for good visu­al ideas for poses to release your bowels!
  8. Actual lax­at­ives
    There are times where every good woman must get some true phar­ma­ceut­ic­al help, and if you are ser­i­ously con­stip­ated, it is worth con­sid­er­ing to relieve yourself.
    motherisk.org has a list of the fol­low­ing (please see the below, ref­er­ence from The Hospital for Sick Children) and the risk/​benefit asso­ci­ated with each sup­port. A major­ity are safe, but of course, check with your health pro­fes­sion­al first (this is a blog, and ideas, not dir­ect health support).
Drug Type of Study Details Outcomes
Psyllium Surveillance 100 > N < 199
dur­ing first trimester
No increased risk of mal­form­a­tions7
Docusate sodi­um Prospective N = 116
any­time dur­ing pregnancy
No increased risk of mal­form­a­tions8
Surveillance N = 473
dur­ing first trimester
No increased risk of mal­form­a­tions (1÷473 = 0.2%)7
Surveillance N = 319
dur­ing first trimester
No increased risk of mal­form­a­tions (3÷319 = 0.9%)9
Surveillance N = 232
dur­ing first trimester
No increased risk of mal­form­a­tions (9÷232 = 3.9%)10
Lactulose Pharmacokinetics N = 6 adults
giv­en lactulose
Systemic bioavail­ab­il­ity < 3%11
Polyethylene glycol Pharmacokinetics N = 11 adults
giv­en poly­ethyl­ene glycol
Not absorbed12
Bisacodyl Pharmacokinetics N = 12 adults
giv­en oral and rectal bisacodyl
Minimal absorp­tion13
Pharmacokinetics N = 16 adults
giv­en bisaco­dyl suppository
Systemic bioavil­ab­il­ity < 5%14
Senna Case Control N = 506 cases
(260 dur­ing first trimester)
No increased risk of mal­form­a­tions (OR 0.8; 95% CI 0.41.4) or adverse preg­nancy out­comes15
Pharmacokinetics N = 937 control
(500 dur­ing first trimester);
N = 10 adults
giv­en senna
Systemic bioavil­ab­il­ity < 5%16

OR-Odds ratio

Data from Jick et al,7 Heinonen et al,8 Aselton et al,9 Briggs et al,10 Carulli et al,11 Wilkinson,12 Roth and Beschke,13 Flig et al,14 Acs et al,15 and Krumbiegnel and Shultz16

Above all ladies, just don’t suf­fer in silence. Get help from your health care pro­fes­sion­als, so you can be com­fort­able for you, and your baby.

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