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 stools (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 – maintain adequate water intake during pregnancy
  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.


When should I see a HCP about constipation in pregnancy?

Constipation is very common in pregnant women. It can be managed with lifestyle changes such as changing things like your diet, fluid intake or activity, or a pregnancy-appropriate laxative such as Coloxyl.

And most cases of constipation during pregnancy are not a sign of illness, but occasionally, constipation in pregnancy could cause complications such as:

• Haemorrhoids: swollen blood vessels near the bottom that can be itchy, painful, and may bleed during bowel movements.
• Faecal impaction: hard, dry stool that blocks the intestine, causing severe
constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, and difficulty emptying the bowels.
• Rectal prolapse: when the rectum slips out of the anus due to weak muscles or straining, causing a bulging sensation, pain, and difficulty controlling bowel movements.

Do speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about constipation, and especially if you notice blood in your stools.

Is Coloxyl safe to use during pregnancy?

Coloxyl 50 mg or Coloxyl 120 mg can be taken in pregnancy as with any medication always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking. A healthcare professional will assess the benefits of Coloxyl against the risks.

Is Coloxyl safe to use while breastfeeding?

Coloxyl 50 mg or Coloxyl 120 mg can be taken whilst breastfeeding, but as with any medication check with your doctor or pharmacist first before taking. A doctor or pharmacist will assess the benefits of Coloxyl against the risks.