Many pregnant women, even with normal uncomplicated pregnancies, get bouts of constipation. It usually occurs in the first or second trimesters when hormone levels and pressure from the expanding uterus slow down digestion. Changes in diet, activity, morning sickness and iron supplements can also help cause constipation.

Up to 40% of women experience constipation at some time during their pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of constipation during pregnancy?

Constipation symptoms experienced during pregnancy are no different to those experienced at other times and include:

  • Increased times between ‘poos’ compared with usual
  • Stools that are hard and may be difficult or painful to pass
  • Pushing or straining when passing a bowel motion
  • Feeling that the bowel hasn’t emptied fully after a motion
  • Feeling bloated or having abdominal (tummy) cramps


What can I do to help prevent constipation?

There are several lifestyle changes you can make that help prevent constipation:

  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, high in fibre – including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain bread and cereals
  • Drink plenty of water or other fluids, such as milk and fruit juices (but moderate sugary drink intake)
  • Be moderately active every day
  • Maintain a regular toilet time; go in the morning or soon after a meal when the bowel is most active
  • Don’t ignore the urge to use the toilet

Remember, it is better to prevent constipation in the first place, rather than having to treat it once it has occurred – especially when you are pregnant.

Which constipation treatments can help?

Most people can usually relieve their constipation by making lifestyle changes. If you cannot get constipation relief by making these changes, a laxative may be an option.

Some constipation treatments can be used in pregnancy and when breastfeeding. Coloxyl 120mg is a gentle stool softener, which can be used to treat constipation in pregnant women.

It is essential to check with your healthcare provider, before taking any medication during pregnancy – so talk to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist for advice on whether a laxative is suitable for you.