Dealing with constipation can be challenging, and the struggle intensifies during pregnancy. The struggle is real, and I know it firsthand! I have struggled with constipation ever since I was a teenager. But once I started college, the stress of my day-to-day life intensified my symptoms which led me to suffer from chronic constipation. Once I found out I was pregnant, I knew it was only a matter of time until I experienced the discomfort, pain, and bloating all over again. But I knew that, while this might be disheartening, I was not alone. Up to 38% of pregnant individuals experience constipation in the first trimester (Trottier et al., 2012).
This common issue has even earned its own ICD-10 code (used for medical billing), emphasizing the need for attention and solutions. Let’s explore the reasons behind pregnancy-related constipation and discover effective ways to manage and alleviate it. Our Constipation Resource Hub is a great way to access all the information that MotherToBaby experts have for you related to this topic, but let’s go over some specifics first!
Understanding the Causes of Constipation in Pregnancy:
Constipation during pregnancy can be attributed to various factors, including an unbalanced diet, insufficient fiber intake, inadequate hydration, and a lack of physical activity. Hormonal changes, particularly an increase in progesterone, also play a significant role. Additionally, medications used to combat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) and supplements like iron and calcium may contribute to constipation.
Navigating Treatment Options during Pregnancy:
While constipation is common during pregnancy, suffering needlessly is not acceptable. Explore different treatment options, but keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Understanding the complexities of your individual situation is crucial.
- Incorporate 4-5 cups of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
- Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber daily.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Engage in 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy).
- Laxatives can be an option, they are medications used to soften stool or stimulate the bowel, but it’s essential to be informed. Explore our fact sheet on laxatives here https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/laxatives/. Here’s a brief run-down of some of these options:
- Bulk-forming laxatives (fiber supplements) like psyllium
- Osmotic laxatives
- Stool softener laxatives
- Stimulants, and lubricants
- Prucalopride (Motegrity®) for the treatment of functional constipation, also known as chronic idiopathic constipation. Read our fact sheet here.
Managing Underlying Conditions that May Make Constipation during Pregnancy Worse:
Some individuals may face constipation due to underlying conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-C) or Functional Constipation (FC). Consult your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and follow their recommendations. Explore our informative fact sheet on Functional Constipation here. https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/functional-constipation/ .
Stress can exacerbate constipation, especially for those with IBS-C. Be kind to yourself and explore stress management techniques. Learn more about stress during pregnancy in our fact sheet here https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/stress-pregnancy/ .
For those with Gestational Diabetes or a predisposition to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, regulating blood glucose levels is crucial. Explore our blog on diabetes during pregnancy here https://mothertobaby.org/baby-blog/diabetes-and-pregnancy-the-not-so-sweet-story/ .
In conclusion, constipation during pregnancy is a shared experience, but it shouldn’t be endured without seeking relief. I certainly looked for options that helped me during my pregnancy, just like I did, so can you! Open a conversation with your healthcare provider to explore solutions. By making dietary adjustments, staying active, and managing stress, you can navigate constipation more comfortably during this transformative time. For personalized information about medications or conditions, or to volunteer for the study on constipation (https://mothertobaby.org/ongoing-study/constipation/) in pregnancy, reach out to our experts at MotherToBaby—they’re here to answer your questions and provide support throughout your pregnancy journey.
We want to enroll all individuals who took Motegrity® at any point in their current pregnancy. If you, or someone you know has been exposed to this medication, please report use to our team.