Common Pregnancy Related Discomforts – Constipation

General Description

Infrequent, often painful, bowel movements, followed by straining and presentation of hard stools.

Sources of Discomfort

During pregnancy, bowel motility is decreased. This lingering of stool in the GI tract, causes an increase in water reabsorption within the intestines. Pressure from the enlarged uterus can also contribute to constipation. Excess iron supplementation, lack of dietary fiber, over-use and mis-use of laxatives (reducing that body’s ability to recognize release cues), dehydration, limited physical activity, stress / anxiety, and depression.

Methods of Relief

  1. Sufficient water in-take, at 80 – 128 fluid ounces, daily. Drinking a hot liquid (herbal teas), followed immediately by a cold liquid can encourage bowel movement. Vegetable and fruit juices (prune) can also be helpful.
  2. Increase fiber in diet: dried fruits, such as prunes or apricots, chia seeds, flax seeds, whole grains, vegetables, papaya, nuts and seeds. Ensure carbohydrates are unrefined. Consider a change in daily vitamin supplements.
  3. Ensure iron supplement is not “ferrous sulfate” derived. Yellow dock can replace “ferrous sulfate” iron supplementation.
  4. Eat less red meat, especially smoked and cured meat such as bacon, ham, sausage, and pastrami.
  5. Regular physical activity encourage movement within the bowels. Avoiding holding, or straining to release a movement.
  6. Avoid antacids, cathartics, enemas, and over-use of laxatives.
  7. Magnesium Powder – 1 – 2 tbs. in warm water before bed.

Helpful stool softeners (temporary use only):

  • Docusate sodium: 50 mg 1 – 2 times daily
  • Docusate calcium: 240 mg 1 time daily


  1. Fiber Therapy:
  • Citrucel or Metamucil: 1 T in 8 oz fluid, 1-3 times PO Daily
  • Psyllium capsules: 1-2 PO daily
  1. Herbal Support:
  • Senna, nettle, and violet leaf teas