Pregnancy Constipation: Are Stool Softeners Safe?


Constipation during pregnancy is a common problem. Almost half of all pregnant women have constipation at some time throughout their pregnancy.

Constipation is characterized by stomach pain or distress, hard and infrequent bowel motions, and the passage of firm stools.

If you’re pregnant, you’ve indeed experienced common constipation symptoms. Hormonal shifts, uterine pressure, and the iron in fetal supplements are all too at fault.

For some women, constipation may be highly unpleasant. It is commonly described as cramping or severe, stabbing pain.

This article will discuss the causes of constipation, home treatments, stool softeners and whether they are safe or not, constipation treatments to avoid when pregnant, when you can get rid of constipation, and postpartum constipation.

Causes Of Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy is caused by various factors, including stress, anxiety, a lack of physical activity, and a low-fibre diet. Additionally, constipation is caused by increased progesterone hormones, which relax the intestinal muscle, managing food and waste to pass more slowly through your system.

According to research published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, nearly three out of every four pregnant women will have constipation and other gastrointestinal problems at some time.

Iron supplements can sometimes cause constipation. If you’re taking iron supplements, make sure you’re drinking enough water. You may need to switch to a new sort of iron pill, but you should first consult with your doctor.

The advantage is that nutrients have more time to be absorbed into your bloodstream and reach your baby. Whereas, the disadvantage is that you wind up with waste-product traffic congestion. Your growing uterus also takes up vital space typically occupied by your intestine, causing it to cramp up and perform poorly.

The expanding uterus can pressure the bowel in later pregnancy, making it challenging to pass faeces through the intestines. There are many medicines and remedies available, but the number of solutions shrinks when it comes to pregnancy.

Treatment For Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation may be prevented and treated in a variety of ways. Home cures, food, and stool softeners are among the few of them. Let’s dive deeper.

Home Cures

Increase Fiber Intake:

Pregnant women should consume 25 to 30 grams of dietary fibre per day, ideally from fruits, vegetables, morning cereals, whole-grain bread, prunes, and bran. This contributes to larger stools that are simpler to pass.

Drink Enough Fluids:

It is critical to remain hydrated during pregnancy. Pregnant women should drink 10 to 12 glasses of water every day. This will keep their bowels soft and flowing through their digestive tract effortlessly.

It is critical to drink plenty of fluids significantly while increasing fibre consumption to promote softer stools.

Maintain The Diet:

Combining a high fibre diet, and enough liquids are the most effective way to remove waste. Sweat, hot/humid weather, and exercise can all increase your demand for fluids.

Exercise Regularly:

Being sedentary increases your chances of constipation. Walking, swimming, and other mild workouts will stimulate your bowels and assist the intestines to operate well. Attempt to indulge in 20-30 minutes of exercise three times each week.

Break Food Molecules:

To relieve constipation, try dividing your regular food intake into five or six smaller meals. It allows the stomach to digest food without working extra hard and smoothly move food to the intestine and colon.

Large meals might overburden your stomach and make it difficult for your digestive system to metabolize what you’ve eaten.

Don’t Hold In:

You have to go when you have to go! Holding it in on a regular basis can weaken the muscles that regulate your intestines and contribute to constipation, so make it a point to go whenever you need to. Yes, we’re talking about using the washroom!

Stool Softeners

If all other natural alternatives didn’t work for you, then doctors may prescribe stool softeners such as Colace on a short-term basis to treat pregnant women with constipation. Long-term usage, on the other hand, might cause dehydration or alter your electrolyte balance.

Colace stool softeners are available online, and they can be bought through online mediums. If you are concerned about their intake, the next topic will help you understand the issue.

Are Stool Softeners Safe?

Stool softeners are generally safe to use during pregnancy.

Constipation during pregnancy, defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, can be unpleasant. This is when you rely on stool softeners, such as Colace. They moisten the stool and help it pass more quickly.

The body relatively slightly absorbs the active component in these products. They are unlikely to damage a developing baby in the womb.

However, consult your doctor before using any medicine, including stool softeners and other forms of laxatives, to control pregnant constipation.

Although iron is a vital vitamin during pregnancy, too much iron can cause constipation. If you are taking an iron supplement, you may need to take a stool softener.

While there are remedies and medicines for constipation, using some of them is not safe for pregnant women.

What Treatments To Avoid During Pregnancy?

Laxative drugs are not advised to treat constipation during pregnancy since they may cause uterine contractions and dehydration. Make it a point to consult your doctor before using an over-the-counter fibre supplement, laxative, or stool softener.

Bonus Tip: Usage of mineral oils is not advised during pregnancy since they interfere with vitamin absorption.

Is Pregnancy Constipation Ever Dangerous?

Constipation in pregnancy is usually transient and resolves with no cure. On the other hand, prolonged constipation might result in faecal impaction, which may require clearing by a doctor in rare circumstances.

Using some laxatives regularly might lead the colon to “forget” how to push faeces through the intestines.

Some women may experience electrolyte or fluid imbalances as a result of these medications. People with other health conditions, such as diabetes or renal illness, are more likely to be affected by such disorders.

At times for some women, constipation during pregnancy might be a sign of some other problem. Call your doctor right away if you have severe constipation accompanied by stomach discomfort, problems with diarrhea, or pass mucus or blood.

When Will This Kind Of Constipation Stop?

Constipation can continue throughout pregnancy for some women as progesterone levels rise. However, if you alter your diet and exercise habits, things will generally start to go more smoothly. You may also make efforts to avoid constipation at any time during your pregnancy.

Postpartum Constipation

In rare cases, constipation doesn’t end even after pushing out the baby.

Delivery may not always spell the end of your constipation problems. Postpartum constipation is caused by a combination of additional iron supplements (to compensate for blood loss), painkillers (if you had a C-section), limited movement (since, well, you just delivered a baby), and a dread of pain when straining to go.

If this is the case, follow the same guidelines for pregnancy constipation:

  • Eat high-fibre meals (target for 25-30 grams per day)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Move about as much as possible

Bonus Read: What are the best treatment options for pregnancy acne?

Summary: Let It Flow

While pregnancy is a unique and lovely stage in a woman’s life, it also includes downsides and challenges to overcome. Gastric issues, constipation, and nausea are all common side effects of pregnancy for nearly every woman. There is no reason to be concerned about this.

Eat, sleep, drink plenty of water, move around, and stay strong. The unpleasant times will pass before you know it. And the next thing you know, you’ll be holding your toddler in your arms.


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