Whether you’re 6 weeks pregnant or heading into your final trimester, carrying a baby comes with a vast collection of, well, not so glamorous side effects.
Constipation while pregnant, for example, can be one of the most unpleasant (yet common!) pregnancy side effects among expectant mothers.
In fact, did you know that up to 38% of women experience constipation during pregnancy?
During each of my pregnancies, I would dread the moment when constipation became a part of my day-to-day routine. I couldn’t help but assume I was bound to experience this pain in the ass (literally!) pregnancy symptom at some point or another.
To prevent constipation from occurring, I started my search for the best pregnancy constipation remedies available.
I was pleased to discover plenty of ways to help keep things “running smoothly” during all nine months of pregnancy.
This site contains affiliate links, meaning that we earn a small commission for purchases made through our site. We only recommend products we personally use, love, or have thoroughly vetted.
When Does Constipation in Pregnancy Usually Start? What Causes It?
Please tell me I’m not the only one that often wonders why pregnant women experience such a BIZARRE collection of symptoms!
It should come as no surprise that I’ve also been curious about the seemingly strange connection between constipation and pregnancy.
All in all, though, struggling with constipation while pregnant makes a lot of sense. In fact, constipation is a common pregnancy problem, and it’s super easy to talk to your doctor about ways to relieve constipation.
Let’s first look at, for instance, the typical reasons you might become constipated when you aren’t even pregnant:
- Not Drinking Enough Water
- Low-Fiber Diet
- Minimal Exercise
What a shocker…most of these are also common occurrences when it comes to pregnancy.
Now add in the fact that increasing amounts of progesterone hormones cause your intestinal systems to slow down and relax. With food moving more slowly through your digestive system, along with these other root causes of constipation, it’s not entirely surprising that most women will struggle with pooping while pregnant.
As for when constipation usually starts during pregnancy, I have some bad news. Problems going #2 are often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy.
The Most Common Pregnancy Constipation Symptoms
While pregnancy constipation cramps are certainly one of the most common signs a soon-to-be mom is constipated, they’re not the only ones. There are several other pregnancy constipation symptoms you should be aware of. These include:
- Straining or Pushing During Bowel Movements
- Feeling “Blocked” or Like You Still Have to Poop but Can’t
- Hard, Small, or Lumpy Stools
Can Constipation While Pregnant Hurt the Baby?
With the feeling of backed-up poop and the need to push and strain while you go, it’s no wonder many pregnant women get nervous their baby is at risk because of constipation during pregnancy.
Luckily, though, this isn’t usually the case.
Most doctors don’t believe constipation is harmful during pregnancy. Usually, the biggest risk factor of pregnancy constipation is hemorrhoids.
Safe Ways to Treat Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
They’re actually great add-ons during your shopping trip for other pregnancy constipation remedies to help treat pregnancy constipation.
Regretfully, developing hemorrhoids is one more annoying side effect when you’re dealing with constipation in pregnancy. If you’re noticing small amounts of blood when wiping, anal itching, or pain, these can be indicators that it’s time to start thinking about treatment options, such as:
- Taking warm baths with baking soda
- Apply witch hazel to the irritated areas
- Avoid sitting for long periods (or use a donut pillow)
- Apply baking soda directly to the area
- Use over-the-counter treatments
Do Safe Laxatives During Pregnancy Exist?
Let’s face it, when many of us are battling with constipation, stool softeners and laxatives are our go-to health care options.
The question is: are safe laxatives during pregnancy a “thing?”
No matter how anxious you are to get things moving, it’s always a good idea to ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drugs, including laxatives.
In most cases, your doctor will probably suggest trying natural pregnancy constipation remedies first (we’ll get to those in a minute!) If those options aren’t working, though, there are some mild laxative options you can try, such as Milk of Magnesia or Metamucil.
If these still aren’t working, your doctor might prescribe a stool softener.
Keep in mind, though, that despite the annoyance of constipation in pregnancy, cod liver oil is NEVER a good option as it interferes with your body’s natural ability to absorb particular vitamins and minerals.
5 Reliable Pregnancy Constipation Remedies You Can Trust
Before you jump into your search for safe laxatives during pregnancy, why not consider something more natural? There are five helpful pregnancy constipation remedies that many expectant moms in our community have had good experiences with.
1. Drink More Water
Have you ever noticed that drinking more water seems to be the homeopathic solution to most medical problems?
Well, surprise, surprise, when you need pregnancy constipation relief, increasing your water intake is a highly-touted treatment option. As a matter of fact, researchers suggest that pregnant women should drink 8 – 12 glasses of water a day, as doing so improves digestion and helps the body get rid of waste.
Sure, you might have to pee a lot more than you already do, but it will be worth it!
2. Eat a High-Fiber Diet
When we consume fiber-rich diets, this leads to stool that’s heavy and bulkier in size. While this might seem counter-productive when you’re looking for pregnancy constipation relief, it’s actually the opposite. More dense bowel movements are easier to pass.
By adding fiber-rich foods into your diet, you’ll naturally increase your daily dietary fiber and reduce your risk of constipation while pregnant.
Some ideal high-fiber food options include:
- Chia Seeds & Other Nuts
- Whole Wheat Foods
- Brussel Sprouts
3. Drink Warm Liquids
Think about this for a moment, if you stick your hand into freezing cold water, what’s your knee-jerk reaction going to be?
For me personally, I would probably tense up and yank my hand back out.
If you place your hand into nice, warm water, the effect is relaxing and comfortable.
Now, apply that same logic to the consumption of ice-cold beverages; you’re probably not shocked to hear that drinking cold things will cause your digestive system to contract. That’s why it’s helpful to drink warm tea, water, and other beverages while you’re constipated.
This will relax your system and allow your stool to pass through more easily.
4. Relax (We know, We know)
Please don’t think we’re telling you to calm down here (we would NEVER!). We’re only suggesting that you let your guts relax.
Not only have techniques like these been shown to assist with constipation in pregnancy, but they’re also a great way to deal with any pregnancy stress you might be experiencing.
5. Start a Mild Exercise Routine
While pregnancy isn’t the best time to implement a new high-intensity exercise routine, mild to moderate exercise is one of our favorite pregnancy constipation remedies.
But always talk to your doc first before starting any exercise regimen while pregnant!
If your doctor gives you the go ahead, exercise allows food to move more quickly through your digestive tract. This means that the burrito you consumed has less time to build up and cause constipation. Excellent.
As little as 20-30 minutes of gentle exercise, such as yoga or walking, three times a week can help with pregnancy constipation symptoms.
When Should You Ask Your Doctor About Pregnancy Constipation Relief
In most situations, constipation in pregnancy isn’t something to concern yourself with. But sometimes it could indicate a more severe problem.
If you’re having severe abdominal pain, constipation that lasts longer than two weeks, or significant blood and mucus in your bowel movements, you’ll want to make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Your doctor can help you determine whether something more serious is happening, or if you require more intense pregnancy constipation remedies.
It’s Time to Figure Out Which Pregnancy Constipation Remedies Work for You
I can’t speak for the rest of you, but in my fairytale version of pregnancy, I did nothing more than walk around in a cloud of baby bliss while gently rubbing my growing belly.
Sure there would be mild discomfort and, worst-case scenario, some morning sickness, but overall, I envisioned my pregnancy going super smoothly and blissfully.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Don’t get me wrong; my overall pregnancy experiences weren’t too bad, but they weren’t perfect either, though. If you were to look back at my pregnancy journal, for example, you’d probably find a long-winded list of complaints about back pain, heartburn, and, yes, constipation while pregnant.
Carrying a child isn’t always the glamorous experience we chalk it up to be.
When it comes to constipation in pregnancy, we can at least find comfort in the fact that there are plenty of ways to find pregnancy constipation relief.
So, whether you start searching for a bottle of Milk of Magnesia or decide to give acupressure a try, don’t just sit back and suffer from your need to go poop. Instead, try out some of these techniques to alleviate constipation symptoms and get back to enjoying the positive aspects of your pregnancy.
Have you tried any of these pregnancy constipation remedies or found something else that worked well for you?
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and 2 children (Jack & Branham). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Love What Matters & more.