You might have stumbled into this page because you are having constipation while pregnant. You are not alone, there is about 11% to 38% of pregnant women whom experience this problem. In this article, we will go through the causes of constipation and the treatment using natural remedies and laxatives. We will also go through the list of laxatives that is safe for conceived women at various trimesters.
Why constipation during Pregnancy?
We heard lots of complaints about this but unfortunately constipation is a normal part of pregnancy because of the [highlight background=”#fff999″ color=”#000000″]hormones changes and pressure[/highlight] towards the intestines from the growing baby. Relaxed intestinal muscle result from change of hormones causing waste not able to be pushed out from the body. Another major contributor to this is the intake of [highlight background=”#fff999″ color=”#000000″]iron supplements and diet change[/highlight] (pregnant women tend to hate taking low-fiber diet). Other than that, [highlight background=”#fff999″ color=”#000000″]emotional change[/highlight] such as worry and anxiety, especially on the first and second trimesters could make things worse.
Natural treatment for Pregnancy Constipation
In most of the cases, natural treatment listed below should be able to relief constipation during pregnancy, we encourage you to try this before attempting medications or laxatives.
- Eat high fiber diet such as fresh fruits, vegetables and cereals (whole grain breads, prunes and wheat bran)
- Drink at least 10-12 cups of fluids every day
- Exercise at least 2-3 times per week and minimum 20-30 minutes each session. Recommended exercises including gentle walking, swimming or moderate activity such as yoga.
- Split the iron supplement intake into few smaller doses throughout the day and drink lots of water to together with it.
- Try probiotics that can help to alter the colonic flora to improve bowel function
- Ensure good toilet routine at least twice each day and never delay the urge to go
[highlight background=”#fff999″ color=”#000000″]Squatting toilet posture[/highlight] is safe during pregnancy and it will help in passing stools easier during pregnancy. If you don’t have squatting type toilet, try put a low stool and rest your feet on it so that your knees are above the hips.
Laxatives for Constipation during Pregnancy
Typically, diet and lifestyle changes above is the recommended first treatment option. If that does not work, then the patient will need to get help from over the counter medicines or seeking advice from doctor. Laxatives are a very common type of medicine used to help you pass stools. However, there are many type of laxatives and each one have different level of effect on the digest system. We will walk you through the list of laxative type that is safe to take during pregnancy in sequence.
Safe Laxatives For Mothers To-Be
Stool softener such as Dulcolax is considered the [highlight background=”#fff999″ color=”#000000″]safest medicine[/highlight] as affirmed by mayoclinic, it increases the amount of water in the stool and make it easier to be disposed. Non-stimulant type is using Ducusate Sodium as ingredient and popular brands available over the counters are Colace, Kirkland and Dulcolax.
Bulk-forming agent Laxatives
Bulk-forming laxatives are considered [highlight background=”#fff999″ color=”#000000″]safe for long term use[/highlight] during pregnancy as they are not absorbed by digestive system and there is no known pregnancy complications associated with it. However, it might incur some unpleasant side effect such as bloating and cramping. It should not be taken at the same time of your supplements or pregnancy medications as it might delay their effect.
It works by helping your stools to retain water in the stools, make it softer and easier to pass. Commonly ingredients and brands of bulk-forming laxatives are Psyllium (Konsyl-D), Metamucil, Modane Bulk, Perdiem, Methylcellulose (Citrucel, Unifiber) and Polycarbophil (Equalactin, Fiber-Lax, FiberNorm, Konsyl-Fiber, Mitrolan).
If there is not much improvement after taking the above medications, most likely your doctor will prescribe for osmotic laxatives. They work by increasing the water in the stool, soften it and stimulate your intestines to pass it out. They are safe for short term use but prolonged usage may lead to electrolyte imbalance and this is not good to pregnancy.
Generally, there are 3 types of oral osmotic laxatives which are Saline (Philip Milk of Magnesia), lactulose (Kristalose) and polymer types (MiraLAX). Miralax is one of the [highlight background=”#fff999″ color=”#000000″]best laxative for immediate relief[/highlight], however it should be taken when clearly needed and for short term only.
Laxatives to Avoid During Pregnant
Stimulant laxatives is not recommended to be consumed while pregnant because it might stimulate uterine contraction. Lubricant laxatives is also not suggested as it may coat the intestines and reduce nutrient absorption.
If you stools are already soft but still having difficulty in bowel movement, your GP may prescribe stimulant laxatives. It is considered fast acting laxative as it will stimulate your intestinal muscles to have contraction so that the waste can be pushed along the colons and out. Senna, Bisacodyl and Sodium Picosulfate are among the commonly prescribed one.
Though there is no strong evident that stimulant laxatives may cause potential issue to pregnant women, it is really not recommended especially for those already in 3rd trimester as partial of the laxatives like senna could be absorbed by the digestive system.
Mineral oil does not get absorbed into gastrointestinal tract but it may block absorption of fat-soluble vitamins by intestines. Deprive of nutrients vital for baby growth may lead to complications. One of the famous mineral oil commonly used for constipation is castor oil.
There are lots of video and article about castor oil, you friends may even encourage you to take it for constipation relief. Tough the oil itself is a good remedy for constipation but it is not suitable to be taken while pregnancy and it should be avoided.
Always remember having constipation during pregnant is normal and this is not something shameful. If you have tried the diet and lifestyle changes but still doesn’t see much progress, talk to your GP and get their professional advice before start on any medication.
If you need to take purgatives for constipation relief, always start with the lowest risk medication such as stool softeners and bulk-forming agents. If they didn’t help, osmotic laxatives should be considered next but it should be taken only for short term. Stimulant laxatives can be taken under doctor prescription and again this should never be taken in prolonged period.
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