Constipation in pregnancy

Many pregnant women, even with normal uncomplicated pregnancies, get bouts of constipation. It usually occurs in the first trimester when hormone levels and pressure from the expanding uterus slow down digestion. Changes in diet, activity, morning sickness and iron supplements can also contribute to constipation.
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Up to 40% of women can 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


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What can I do to help prevent constipation?

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

  1. Include foods that are high in fibre in your diet – such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain creals, fruit, vegetables and pulses like beans and peas
  2. Drink plenty of water – you shouldn’t be thirsty
  3. Aim to move regularly to keep muscles toned – gentle exercise includes walking, swimming or yoga
  4. Take iron supplements if needed, but some can cause constipation – if you become constipated ask your doctor about alternatives


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pregnancy constipation

Which constipation treatments can help?

pregnancy constipation

Constipation may be relieved by making lifestyle changes. However, if you can’t get constipation relief by changing things like your diet, fluid intake or activity, a laxative may be an option.

Some constipation treatments can be used in pregnancy and when breastfeeding. Coloxyl 120 mg  (and the lower dose Coloxyl 50 mg) 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.