How to fight constipation during pregnancy?

When can we speak of constipation?

Each individual has a more or less rapid transit, without it being possible to speak of an intestinal disorder. While some saddle up to three times a day, others only saddle up three times a week and do it very well.

Aurélia Bardot, Nutritionist: “Constipation is classically defined as a reduction in the frequency of bowel movements to less than three times a week, combined with difficulty in voiding.”

A person who has regular-consistency bowel movements three times a week is not constipated. “Constipation is associated with hard, dehydrated stools‘ says Aurélia Bardot.

Why do we have constipation from the beginning of pregnancy and how long does it last?

Hormonal fluctuations, enlargement of the uterus, decrease in physical activity… Several factors combine to affect the intestinal transit of women during pregnancy.


From the beginning of pregnancy, the woman secretes more progesterone, which makes this possibleincrease the thickness of the uterine wall so that the egg can settle into it. Second, this hormone secreted by the placenta works Relaxation on the uterine muscle, thereby preventing it from contracting during most of the pregnancy. Problem: Progesterone acts not only on the muscles of the uterus, but also on the muscles of the intestine, slowing of intestinal peristalsis – namely the intestinal contractions that allow the progression of stool along the digestive tract. Along with this, this hormone tends to Increasing water absorption at the intestinal level, and thus to drain the stool. Two effects that together promote constipation during pregnancy.

The growing uterus

In the second half of pregnancy the uterusincreases in volume and starts to compress the colon. This mechanical action can make defecation difficult for some women.

other factors

  • Other causes of constipation during pregnancy are decrease in physical activity in pregnant women who may fear that exercise will interfere with the smooth running of their pregnancy. It is important to remind pregnant women that practicing a gentle exercise is not only not contraindicated, but even recommended during pregnancy.
  • Iron supplementation, which is often offered to anemic women in early pregnancy, also tends to slow intestinal transit.
  • Finally, women who are prone to nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy often have trouble drinking, which can also contribute to constipation.

What Are the Risks of Constipation During Pregnancy?

If constipation is often uncomfortable for pregnant women, it can also worry her. So what are the possible effects of severe constipation during pregnancy?


Severe constipation—linked to pregnancy putting pressure on the rectum—increases the risk of developingHemorrhoids in pregnant women. This risk is related to the increase in blood pressure in the veins of the anal region when the expectant mother “pushes” to expel the stool.
Hemorrhoids pose no risk to the baby but can be very painful and disabling for the woman.

Risk of miscarriage?

At the end of pregnancy, the constipated mother-to-be may be afraid to push too much on the toilet for fear of expelling the baby.

Barbara Forster, midwife: “Constipation can induce labor, but not enough to create a real risk of preterm birth.”

In order to minimize defecation efforts during a bowel movement, it is important to say goodbye a so-called physiological position. “We recommend that the mother-to-be sit on the toilet with a small stool under her feet so that her knees are slightly higher than her hips,” explains the midwife. “The woman will then exhale, as if trying to tuck her stomach into pants that are too tight, which favorably mobilizes her transverse muscle and prevents her from pressing on her internal organs: uterus, bladder, rectum,” specifies the latter.

With almost every second woman affected, constipation during pregnancy is not inevitable! In fact, by adopting a healthy lifestyle, it is easy to overlook these inconveniences.

Lots to drink

A good transit starts with good hydration. “We encourage women whose transit is a little lazy to do this drink between 1.5 and 2 liters of water a daynamely 8 to 10 glasses of water,” advises the nutritionist. Water increases the volume of stool and stimulates the peristaltic waves of the bowel.
It can make sense to give priority heavily mineralized watersand particularly rich in magnesium, such as Hepar®, Contrex® or Courmayeur®.
Drinking a fresh fruit juice when you wake up is also a very good way to gently resume the transit.

Increase fiber intake

the fiber, especially the so-called soluble fiber, has the ability to form a gel when it comes into contact with water, which promotes the gliding of the chyme in the intestine. This soluble fiber includes pectins, gums and mucilages and is found primarily in fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and grains.

“We recommend achieving an intake of 25-30g of fiber per day by eating 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily, and favoring whole grains, legumes, and whole grain breads.”

Of high-fiber foodsWe find: plums, kiwi and melon, spinach, leeks, celery, whole grains, legumes (or legumes) and oilseeds.

Maintain regular physical activity

Exercise is essential to stimulate and wake up the digestive and abdominal muscles and to kickstart a somewhat sluggish transit. “The mother-to-be can get advice from her gynecologist or midwife and check which sports she can practice without fear during her pregnancy,” advises the nutritionist.
active walking, prenatal yogaPilates and gentle gymnastics, for example, are absolutely compatible with pregnancy.

Consumption of flaxseed

Flax seeds are known for their laxative properties due to their great richness in mucilage and pectins. “However, be careful not to consume too much, otherwise you could have intestinal problems,” warns Aurélia Bardot, who recommends not to exceed 4 tablespoons a day. Flaxseeds can be crushed beforehand and soaked in water or milk.

Avoid paraffin oil

This oil, which is not absorbed at all by the intestines during digestion, is particularly effective in the fight against constipation. “However, paraffin oil is not recommended during pregnancy, as it interferes with the absorption of vitamins and minerals that it brings with it in the stool,” notes the nutritionist.

Laxatives and plants: always on medical advice!

Laxatives, suppositories, enemas, as well as laxative plants and herbal teas should never be taken without medical advice. “In particular, we absolutely avoid aloe, sea buckthorn and senna, which can trigger uterine contractions,” emphasizes Aurélia Bardot.


To the stimulate the intestinal transit Gentle and pain-relieving in the case of constipation, it can make sense to carry out small ones abdominal massage. “We can make circular movements, clockwise, namely in the direction in which the stool progresses in the intestine,” says the nutritionist.

Constipation or Diarrhea During Pregnancy?

If constipation occurs frequently during pregnancy, on the contrary, pregnant women may suffer from diarrhea. Although they can have benign causes – stress, dietary changes – they can also be linked to an infection.

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