Avoid Getting Stuck with Constipation

Too much or too little of something is never good. That's certainly true about the hormone progesterone. When it's low, getting pregnant may be tricky. During pregnancy, progesterone increases. This causes your muscles to relax. As a result, the wavelike contractions that move stool through your digestive tract also slow down. The result: constipation.

Constipation is passing hard, dry stools fewer than three times a week. You may also have stomach pain and bloating. You may strain during bowel movements.

Buck the trend

Fortunately, you aren’t doomed to an uncomfortable fate because of your hormones. There are steps that you can take to prevent and ease constipation. These tips also are good for your health and your baby:

  • Exercise. Experts say that healthy pregnant women should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. Ask your healthcare provider about exercises that are safe for you. 

  • Eat high-fiber foods. These include whole grains, wheat bran, raw or dried fruits, and vegetables.

  • Drink  eight to 10 glasses of water or other fluids each day. You can even try the old standby, prune juice.

  • Try to ease stress and anxiety.

Also, know that progesterone isn’t the only culprit. The pressure that your growing uterus puts on your digestive tract can also cause constipation.  Iron can trigger it, too. This may be in your prenatal vitamins.

When you need a little help

If these tips don’t help your constipation, talk with your healthcare provider. He or she may recommend taking an over-the-counter bulk stool softener, such as methylcellulose or psyllium.



Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016

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