Constipation during pregnancy: what are the risks and solutions?

Constipation pendant la grossesse : quels sont les risques et solutions ?

Pregnancy brings many changes. It can be a real upheaval for the body. One of the most common symptoms during pregnancy is constipation.

Why does constipation occur during pregnancy?

Constipation is one of the most common complaints experienced by pregnant women. It is estimated that around 40% of pregnant women experience constipation during pregnancy. Constipation is characterized by having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week (this varies from person to person). Constipation needs to be treated, especially if it causes pain such as stomach cramps, bloating etc...

It's just as likely to occur in women who are already prone to these inconveniences as in those whose bowel movements normally function very well.

There are several reasons why constipation is more frequent in pregnant women, and therefore during pregnancy. Here are just a few of the factors that can lead to blocked bowel movements during pregnancy:

  • Hormones (especially progesterone), which relax intestinal fibers, slowing down digestion;
  • Distension of the uterus as the fetus grows, compressing the intestines;
  • Iron supplements , which are often prescribed to pregnant women, slow down intestinal transit;
  • Reduced physical activity (especially in the 3rd trimester), which contributes to constipation.

What period of pregnancy is most prone to constipation?

Problems with constipation, and more generally with bowel movements, appear at the very start of pregnancy with the increase in progesterone levels. It then becomes more significant from the second trimester onwards, and finally towards the end of the pregnancy. It may last for some time after delivery.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy constipation?

Constipation is characterized by several symptoms:

  • Decreased frequency of bowel movements;
  • Bloating;
  • Cramps in the abdomen;
  • Painful sensations;
  • Difficulty with bowel movements;
  • sometimes hemorrhoids.

This blockage can be painful and a source of concern for pregnant women.

How to relieve constipation during pregnancy?

Fortunately, constipation is not inevitable ! There are ways (and natural ones at that) to relieve it during pregnancy. We'll share our tips with you below.

Fibre-rich diet and drinking water

The first tip, very simple to apply, is to drink water regularly. Drinking enough(1.5 to 2 liters a day) helps stimulate intestinal transit. You can also start your day by drinking a large glass of water on an empty stomach in the morning.

It's also important to eat a diet rich in fiber to aid digestion. To do this, make sure you eat enough fruit and vegetables, and give priority to cooked vegetables, wholegrain cereals and breads, legumes, oilseeds, etc. All these foods aid digestion, and wholegrain or semi-complete products help prevent bloating.

Grandma's method: prunes

Prunes are known for their transit-enhancing properties. In fact, prunes contain a substance called dihydroxyphenylisatin, which stimulates peristalsis (muscular contractions of the digestive system). It can be eaten as juice or dried fruit (2 to 3 a day).

Regular exercise adapted to your physical condition

Even during pregnancy, regular physical activity is recommended to stimulate digestion. You can, for example, take up walking, swimming or gentle yoga.

Medical treatment

In some cases, medical treatment may be necessary. Your doctor may recommend certain laxatives, such as :

  • Ballast" laxatives. Their action will reduce the increase in stool hydration volume;
  • Osmotic" laxatives, which increase the level of hydration in the stool;
  • Lubricating laxatives to soften stools and facilitate their passage.

Stimulant laxatives should be avoided! They may trigger contractions in the uterus.

Very important: always seek the advice of a health professional, and never self-medicate during pregnancy.

Is it necessary to consult a doctor for constipation during pregnancy?

If you're prone to stomach upsets during pregnancy, the first thing to remember is not to self-diagnose. It's best to seek medical advice to find out the precise cause of these pains. They may be caused by constipation, but this is not always the case.

What's more, if your doctor has prescribed laxatives or given you recommendations to follow to relieve your constipation, but these prove ineffective, you can consult your doctor again.

Can constipation cause miscarriage?

Constipation is not dangerous for pregnant women and is unlikely to cause miscarriage. Nor will it have any impact on your baby's development. Consult your doctor if constipation causes you concern or discomfort.

FAQs on constipation during pregnancy

How can a constipated pregnant woman have a bowel movement?

There are a number of natural ways to relieve constipation, such as giving priority to fiber, staying sufficiently hydrated and regular physical activity.

Is constipation dangerous during pregnancy?

Constipation poses no danger to pregnancy or to the healthy development of the fetus. Consult your doctor, but do not self-medicate.

Does constipation cause contractions?

Constipation does not cause contractions, but it can cause pain, in which case you should consult your doctor.

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The information contained in the articles on is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.