Pregnancy guide


Constipation occurs often in pregnancy due to normal changes which slow down the movement of food through the digestive system.
Iron supplement as well as a lack of fibre in the diet will worsen the condition.

What causes constipation during pregnancy?

In general, worry, anxiety, minimal physical exercise and a low-fibre diet may cause constipation.
Constipation in pregnant women is thought to occur due to hormones that relax the intestinal muscle and by the pressure of the expanding uterus on the intestines. Relaxation of the intestinal muscle causes food and waste to move slower through your system.
Sometimes iron tablets may contribute to constipation. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water if you are taking iron supplements.

How can I prevent or treat constipation during pregnancy?

Eat high fibre diet. Ideally, you will consume 25 or 30 grams per day of dietary fibre from fruits, vegetables, breakfast cereals, whole grain breads, prunes and bran.
Drink a lot of fluids. Drink 10 to 12 cups of fluids each day.
Exercise routinely. If you are inactive, you have a greater chance of constipation. Schedule exercise three times a week for 30 minutes each.
Over-the-counter remedies. There are over-the-counter products which may help soften your bowel movements and reduce constipation.
Reduce iron supplements. Good nutrition can often meet your iron needs during pregnancy. Taking smaller doses of iron throughout the day rather than taking it all at once can reduce constipation.

What remedies should not be used for constipations during pregnancy?

Laxative pills are NOT recommended for the treatment of constipation during pregnancy because they might stimulate uterine contractions and cause dehydration.
Mineral oils should NOT be used during pregnancy because there is an increased reduction in nutrient absorption.

For further information

Guide summary