13 Effective Home Remedies For Constipation During Pregnancy

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According to some studies, between 11 and 38% of pregnant women experience gastrointestinal issues, including constipation during pregnancy at some point (1). When you are pregnant, constipation becomes more than simply a nuisance. The heaviness and bloating, paired with the expanding belly, can be excruciating.

Read this post to know how you can get rid of your bowel discomfort without resorting to medicine and a few home remedies for treating constipation when pregnant. However, before attempting these cures, you should consult your doctor.

In This Article

What Causes Pregnancy Constipation?

Hormonal changes such as the increasing level of progesterone hormone in pregnancy slows down the functioning of the gastrointestinal system, resulting in pregnancy discomforts such as constipation.

Constipation and discomfort are higher in early pregnancy due to the backward tilting of the womb (retroversion) until about 12 weeks and a sudden change of progesteroneiXA female hormone responsible for menstruation and pregnancy. level in the blood.

During the second and third trimesters, the pressure exerted by the growing womb on your bowels will intensify the problem. Also, consumption of iron and calcium supplements, low fiber intake, lack of exercise, dehydration, worry, and anxiety might cause or contribute to constipation. The rare and most severe causes include hemorrhoidsiXA condition in which the rectal and anal region veins get swollen. and anal fissuresiXSmall tears in the lining of the anus, often causing pain and bleeding during bowel movements. (2).

protip_icon Quick fact
Excess iron intake through supplements can make it difficult for gut bacteria to break down food compounds. This, along with reduced water intake, can make you constipated (3).

Can Constipation Affect Pregnancy?

Yes, constipation in pregnancy could be very painful and irritating. It might cause abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and hemorrhoids (2). To avoid all of these, you should start using remedies for relief, which we discuss in the next section.

protip_icon Quick fact
Severe constipation can cause cracks in the lining of the anus, leading to sharp pain during bowel movements (4).

What Are The Symptoms Of Constipation During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, constipation manifests through several identifiable symptoms, including (5):

  • Passing stools becomes challenging as they turn hard, lumpy, and small.
  • Bowel movements may become irregular or infrequent, disrupting the usual pattern.
  • Light cramping sensations and discomfort in the lower belly area are also common signs.

To recognize constipation during pregnancy, observe the following indicators (3):

  • Passing stools only a few times a week.
  • Struggling or feeling swollen and gassy during bowel movements.
  • Experiencing pain while passing dry and hard stools.

It’s important to know that if left unattended, constipation during pregnancy can lead to other issues like hemorrhoids and anal fissures worse or more likely to happen.

How Common Is Constipation During Pregnancy?

A study shows that more women are likely to have constipation in the second trimester than in the third trimester. The graph here will help you understand the incidence and prevalence of constipation in pregnant women in the second and third trimesters.

Prevalence of constipation during pregnancy

Source: Pregnancy, puerperium and perinatal constipation – an observational hybrid survey on pregnant and postpartum women and their age-matched non-pregnant controls; An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Effective Home Remedies To Treat Constipation When Pregnant

Following are some of the effective home remedies to relieve constipation in pregnancy.

1. Lemon

Why it works:

Lemon supports digestion. The citric acid in lemon juice can help to induce bowel contractions and eases the stool passage. Since hot beverages can help to relieve constipation too, adding lemon to hot water is even more effective.

How to include:

  • You will need half a lemon, one glass of warm water and honey if required.
  • Squeeze fresh juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water, and add honey to it for enhanced taste. You may consume it twice a day.

2. Water

Why it works:

On dehydration, your body extracts water from the intestines, thus causing constipation. Drinking enough water will soften the stools, and enable easy bowel movements (3).

How to include:

You may take around eight to ten (8oz.) glasses of water during the day to get the desired amount of fluids.

3. Citrus fruits (Oranges)

Why it works:

Oranges are rich in vitamin C, which is essential for overall good health. They also contain high fiber, lack of which will cause constipation (4).

How to include:

Eat one or two oranges (or any other citrus fruit) every day.

4. Ispaghula husks (Psyllium)

Why it works:

It is an excellent source of dietary fiber and contains mucilage that absorbs fluids and adds bulk to the stools. It, therefore, adjusts the stool consistency and helps relieve constipation (8). Due to its non-irritant property, the risk of having preterm labor remains unaltered.

How to include:

Ispaghula is available in sachets. Mix the contents of one sachet in a glass of water and drink immediately. Take this solution twice a day.

5. Flaxseeds

Why it works:

They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which will retain body fluids. They are full of dietary fiber and also contain mucilage that aids in forming bulk around stools (9).

How to include:

Take around half a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds and add in any form to your diet. Increase the intake gradually to two tablespoons.

6. Massage

Why it works:

Abdominal massage helps relieve constipation by relaxing the muscles, removing any discomfort, and stimulating bowel movements. A massage done while sitting, standing, or lying down, for 15 minutes will give you complete relaxation (10).

How to include:

Gently massage the abdomen using the flat part of your finger (instead of fingertips) in a clockwise direction. Start with the right side (the ascending colon), then just under your ribcage (the transverse colon), and then the left side (descending colon) of your abdomen. Always ensure your massage moves in a clockwise direction since that’s the direction of your bowel flow.

7. Reflexology:

Why it works:

It is the application of pressure on the reflex points to stimulate the affected organ. Reflexology relaxes the body and eases the feeling of lethargy due to constipation (11).

How to include:

Ask your partner or someone to massage the upper soles of your feet for relaxation, as it eases digestion. You can also massage the edges of your palm if there is no one to help you. You might also place a water bottle beneath the sole of your feet, and roll it back and forth.

8. Acupressure

Why it works:

Stimulating specific points in the body can activate the organs associated with that point. Applying pressure to the perineum is very useful in treating constipation (12)Perineal massage with appropriate oil is useful for preparation of a normal birth and also to relieve flatus and constipation.

How to include:

Find the correct point of the perineum, located in the middle of the abdomen. It is situated five centimeters below the navel. Press this point gently and increase the pressure gradually for around 30 times every day. However, you should not practice this during the later stages of pregnancy.

9. Eat more fiber:

Why it works:

Fiber adds bulk to the digestive system, and aids in smooth bowel movement. It also supplies vitamins and antioxidants which are necessary for a healthy pregnancy (13).

How to include:

Good choices are legumes, beans, dried fruit (apricots, dates, raisins, figs, prunes), whole grains (oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth), nuts and seeds (almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds), fruits (avocados, pears, berries) and cooked vegetables.

Sara Presley, a mother to three, who is 11 weeks pregnant with the fourth, describes her experience with bloating says, ‘’It’s been rough because I still have the worst bloating and constipation going. It’s painful and I have never had such bad constipation in all previous pregnancies, this is the worst one. I noticed that when I stay away from beans, I feel better. I do know that I should eat more fruits, so I started eating blueberries and pears and I do feel its working ().’’

10. Consume healthy fats:

Why it works:

Consuming enough healthy fat can improve your bowel movements.

How to include:

You may eat an avocado every day or add other healthy fat foods such as nuts to your diet.

11. Yogurt

Why it works:

A rich source of probiotics, it helps with digestion by altering the microorganisms in your gut and increasing bowel movements (11).

How to include:

Consume one cup of plain yogurt every day.

12. Apple cider vinegar

Why it works:

It contains pectiniXA type of fiber found in fruits and vegetables involved in lowering blood cholesterol and managing gastrointestinal problems. and acetic acid, which aid in digestion.  (15).

How to include:

Put one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water and add a little honey to it. Mix and consume the solution every morning and night to see improvement.

13. Epsom salts

Why it works:

Also called magnesium sulfate, it is highly helpful in relieving sore muscles. Its laxative properties help treat constipation (16).

How to include:

Add one cup of Epsom salt to your bathing water, soak and relax in it for some time. DO NOT ingest it as the laxative effect can be too strong and could induce uterine contractions.

Start using these natural remedies for relief from the unpleasant effects of constipation. If it is irritating and painful, it is time to check with your doctor for alternative healing options. Do not take any over-the-counter medicines without seeking advice from your doctor.

protip_icon Point to consider
Seek medical guidance if home care measures fail to relieve constipation. Your doctor may prescribe your pregnancy-safe stool softener or laxatives suitable for your case (4).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is constipation an early sign of pregnancy?

Yes, constipation is one of the early pregnancy signs. It happens mainly due to the progesterone hormone that makes the bowel movements sluggish and relaxed (17).

2. Can I take Dulcolax laxative while pregnant?

There are no adequate studies on the impact of the drug in pregnant women. You should contact your doctor before taking this medication. It is good to avoid medicine that might cause irritation of the womb muscle.

3. Is it safe to take laxatives during pregnancy?

Yes, it is safe to take only some forms of laxatives during pregnancy. Options include milk of magnesia and Metamucil. Stronger laxatives are prescribed when these do not work, but they come with risks and shouldn’t be used without your doctor’s consent  (18).

4. Can constipation during pregnancy hurt the baby?

No. Despite how uncomfortable it may be for you, your baby won’t be harmed by the pressure constipation causes in your abdomen (3).

5. How long does constipation last in pregnancy?

The constant fluctuation in progesterone levels throughout pregnancy may cause you to experience constipation. However, dietary and lifestyle changes may help pregnant women find relief from constipation sooner.

6. Can pushing for a bowel movement from constipation cause a miscarriage?

No. Pushing to have a bowel movement during constipation cannot lead to a miscarriage.

You may be able to protect yourself from constipation during pregnancy by doing regular exercises such as certain pelvic floor exercises and consuming plenty of water. However, to treat the issue effectively and safely, you should seek advice from your doctor before using these remedies.

Have you tried any of these remedies for pregnancy constipation? Did they help? Share your experiences in the below comment section.

Infographic: Effective Home Remedies To Treat Constipation When Pregnant

If you’re dealing with constipation during pregnancy, it’s essential to discuss treatment options with your doctor. In the meantime, some home remedies may help alleviate the symptoms. Our infographic below lists some foods that may be beneficial for constipation relief. Do take a look at some possible solutions.

foods to relieve constipation during pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Increased progesterone levels during pregnancy slow down the gastrointestinal system, leading to constipation.
  • Constipation can cause abdominal pain, hemorrhoids, and rectal bleeding.
  • Dehydration and excessive intake of iron supplements can also result in constipation.
  • The pressure from the expanding womb worsens constipation in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
  • Home remedies such as water, citrus fruits, flaxseeds, lemon juice, and abdominal massage can help relieve constipation during pregnancy.
Constipation During Pregnancy_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

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2. Juan C Vazquez; Constipation, haemorrhoids, and heartburn in pregnancy; BMJ Clin Evid (2010)
3. Pregnancy Constipation: Pain, Causes, Treatments & Relief ; Cleveland Clinic.
4. Constipation in pregnancy, haemorrhoids and anal fissures; National Childbirth Trust
5. 5 Tips to Relieve Pregnancy Constipation; UNM Health Blog
6. Constipation; IUPUI
7. Sáenz C et al.; [Orange juice residues as dietary fiber source for foods]; Arch Latinoam Nutr (2007)
8. Mehmood MH et al.; Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of psyllium husk (Ispaghula) in constipation and diarrhea.; Dig Dis Sci (2011)
9. Hanif Palla A &, Gilani AH; Dual effectiveness of Flaxseed in constipation and diarrhea: Possible mechanism; J Ethnopharmacol (2015)
10. 5 Unexpectedly Wonderful Benefits of Prenatal Massage; Avenue Five Institute Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (2015)
11. M Dolatian et al.; The Effect of Reflexology on Pain Intensity and Duration of Labor on Primiparas; Iran Red Crescent Med J (2011)
12. Ryan Abbott et al.; Effect of Perineal Self-Acupressure on Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Trial; J Gen Intern Med (2015)
13. Sun Hwan Bae; Diets for Constipation; Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr (2014)
11. Prof. Kerryn Phelps et al.; The Mystery Gut
14. Mojgan Mirghafourvand et al.; The Effect of Probiotic Yogurt on Constipation in Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial; Iran Red Crescent Med J (2016)
15. Britt Brandon; Apple Cider Vinegar For Health: 100 Amazing and Unexpected Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar; page 27
16. Izzo AA et al.; The osmotic and intrinsic mechanisms of the pharmacological laxative action of oral high doses of magnesium sulphate. Importance of the release of digestive polypeptides and nitric oxide.; Magnes Res (1996)
17. Management of common symptoms of pregnancy; Antenatal Care: Routine Care for the Healthy Pregnant Woman
18. Tina Sara Verghese et al.; Constipation in pregnancy; Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2015)

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