Constipation during pregnancy can be such a pain! It can be an early sign of pregnancy, and it can also persist throughout your entire pregnancy. In this post, we share why it happens, and constipation in pregnancy remedies.
Pregnancy and Constipation
Pregnancy is full of all sorts of fun side effects.
Sometimes it’s a wonder anyone goes through it – but when you see how sweet little newborns are…it all kind of makes sense.
I’ve talked about all sorts of “fun” pregnancy symptoms and side effects in the past…you know, Diarrhea in pregnancy, Excessive Saliva and Spitting During Pregnancy, and even when your Husband Smells Bad During Pregnancy.
So it only makes sense that we talk about something that plagues many, many women throughout pregnancy – from the early stages until after giving birth.
As someone who has dealt with IBS for many years, I often debate (with myself, don’t worry) what’s worse – constipation or diarrhea.
For me, I think constipation is one of the worst feelings ever, so it’s something I go to great lengths to avoid – especially during pregnancy.
Constipation during pregnancy can often feel like cramping, and while some cramping can be normal during pregnancy…it always feels a little bit concerning.
No advice in this post should be taken as medical advice or replace that of your medical provider. ALWAYS consult with your medical provider about any concerns during pregnancy.
Constipation Early Pregnancy
Is Constipation a Sign of Pregnancy?
I’ve talked a lot about very early pregnancy symptoms and signs, and while constipation isn’t always at the top of the list, it certainly can be a sign of pregnancy.
In general, if you are having a symptom that you don’t typically have before your period is about to start, I consider that a possible early pregnancy sign.
Digestive problems in early pregnancy are pretty common, often due to the sudden increase in progesterone, which is known for causing digestive problems.
Why Does Pregnancy Cause Constipation?
A big reason is a culprit behind most pregnancy symptoms – hormones.
We all respond to them differently, and for some, their hormones just majorly slow down their digestive system…which is SO fun, I know.
However, there are some other culprits that come into play when it comes to pregnancy constipation:
- Zofran – This is a common anti-nausea medicine prescribed to women having extreme morning sickness. One of the most common side effects in constipation.
- Iron – Can be very constipating. If the prenatal vitamin you are taking has iron in it, you may want to consider switching to a prenatal vitamin without iron and taking your iron supplementation another way. The only iron I haven’t had issues with is Floradix, which is a liquid iron supplement. I have always struggled with low iron, and that is what my doctor has put me on regularly. Make sure you run it by your physician first, but I’ve found it to be far more gentle.
- Progesterone Supplements – Sometimes progesterone supplements are prescribed to help prevent pregnancy loss, and a lot of women report feeling really constipated and bloated with it.
- Not Drinking Enough – This is a big one! It can be hard to stay hydrated when you are pregnant – especially in early pregnancy. But it’s super important!
Constipation in Pregnancy Remedy
As you surely know, there are many medications and remedies that are off limits while pregnant.
Fortunately, there are plenty of pregnancy-safe constipation remedies.
Of course, always check with your doctor first before starting any new regimen.
I have personally found the following combination to work really well for keeping things moving:
However, there are other things you can do as well!
Diet high in fiber – Fiber is one of the best things for your digestive systems – and most people just don’t get enough. Of course, if you haven’t had much fiber in your diet, make sure you add it in slowly. A sudden increase in fiber can actually really hurt your stomach.
Bowel Massage – This is a technique I was taught at pelvic floor therapy, and it’s amazing how well it works. Here is some good information on how to do one. There are also lots of videos online.
Essential Oils – Not a big essential oils user here, but I know a lot of people who use them for digestive issues. I have had success with this Tummy Time kids’ roller ball blend from Rocky Mountain Oils. This Tummy Rub roller ball is a little more potent, so if you are okay with essential oils, it’s probably better for adults. Here are some other popular essential oils for constipation:
If you can combine this with a bowel massage, it can be really helpful.
I linked to Rocky Mountain Oils, which are the only oils I have been able to tolerate (in the children, roller ball form). I think they are really high quality, and you don’t have to signup with a consultant to buy them.
Yoga – Yoga can be really beneficial for digestion – just make sure you are going to a prenatal yoga class OR you just skip the exercises on your back. Here are some free online videos.
Chia Seeds – As I’ve done some research, this one tends to come up in a lot of BabyCenter forums – people swear by chia seeds and their de-constipating power. You can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, etc. From what I’ve read, it’s best to let them soak for a while to get the most benefits.
Prunes – This one has been around for a long time. I am not a fan of prunes, but if you can handle them, they can relieve constipation.
Stay hydrated – This can be really hard when you are pregnant, because water doesn’t always play nice. However, drinking water is SO important for your health while pregnant, and it can lead to constipation if you aren’t drinking enough. If you have trouble keeping regular water down, try and add lemon or cucumber. My sister loves these True Lemon drink packets (I have tried them, and I do like them, too. They are just really sweet, so I recommend using 1/4-1/2 of a tube at a time).
Cucumber Juice – Celery juice is all the rage right now, so you could try that. But I think it’s really hard to drink, and Cucumber Juice has similar benefits, including helping with digestion.
Pregnancy Constipation Pains
Constipation can be very painful – and during pregnancy, it can be hard to tell if pains are from constipation or if there is something else going on. That whole area of the body can be really hard to diagnose the cause of pain normally – but especially during pregnancy.
Typically, you will feel the pain in your bowels or some pressure on your rectum. It can feel rather crampy, but if it’s coming at regular intervals, I would be more concerned that you are having pregnancy related pains. If you are having any kind of consistent paint, it’s always worth calling your doctor!
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.
Just a warning about recommending fennel essential oil, I have read in many places fennel should only not be used during pregnancy, it can cause menstrual cycles to begin. (essential oils natural remedies by Althea Press, 2015)
Chelsea Johnson says
Prunes were my go-to when I had this problem during pregnancy! Even though I hate them! This is a great resource for mamas who may not want to ask their friends for advice!