13 Effective Home Remedies For Constipation During Pregnancy

 

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Research states that around 11 – 38% of women suffer from constipation and other bowel issues at some point in their pregnancy (1). Constipation becomes more than just a discomfort when you are pregnant. The heavy and bloated feeling combined with the growing belly can be a pain.

If you want to end your bowel discomfort without using medications,  read on. MomJunction gives you a few home remedies to treat constipation during pregnancy. However, do check with your doctor before trying these remedies.

What Causes Pregnancy Constipation?

The increasing level of progesterone hormone in pregnancy slows down the functioning of the gastrointestinal system, resulting in 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 progesterone 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 diet, lack of exercise, dehydration, worry, and anxiety might cause or contribute to constipation. The rare and most severe causes include hemorrhoids and anal fissures (2).

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Can Constipation Affect Pregnancy?

Yes, constipation could be very painful and irritating in the long run. 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.

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Effective Home Remedies To Treat Constipation When Pregnant

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

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 (3). Since hot beverages can help to relieve constipation too, adding lemon to hot water is even more effective.

[ Read: Symptoms Of Dehydration In Pregnancy ]

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 enables easy bowel movements (4).

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 (5).

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, softens the stools and helps relieve constipation (6)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 (7).

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.

[ Read: High-Fiber Foods To Keep Constipation At Bay In Pregnancy ]

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 (8).

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 (9).

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 (10)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 (11).

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.

[ Read: Apple Cider Vinegar In Pregnancy ]

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 (12).

How to include:

Consume one cup of plain yogurt every day.

12. Apple cider vinegar

Why it works:

It contains pectin and acetic acid, which aid in digestion. (13).

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 sulphate, it is highly helpful in relieving sore muscles. It’s laxative properties help treat constipation (14).

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.

[ Read: Laxatives During Pregnancy ]

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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 (15).

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 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  (16).

You will be able to protect yourself from constipation by doing regular exercises and consuming plenty of water. To treat the issue effectively, 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.

References:

1. Magan Trottier et al.; Treating constipation during pregnancy; Can Fam Physician (2012)
2. Juan C Vazquez; Constipation, haemorrhoids, and heartburn in pregnancy; BMJ Clin Evid (2010)
3. Christopher Teller; Powerful Constipation Natural Remedies
4. Constipation; IUPUI
5. Sáenz C et al.; [Orange juice residues as dietary fiber source for foods]; Arch Latinoam Nutr (2007)
6. Mehmood MH et al.; Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of psyllium husk (Ispaghula) in constipation and diarrhea.; Dig Dis Sci (2011)
7. Hanif Palla A &, Gilani AH; Dual effectiveness of Flaxseed in constipation and diarrhea: Possible mechanism; J Ethnopharmacol (2015)
8. MASSAGE FOR IBS & CONSTIPATION; Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (2015)
9. M Dolatian et al.; The Effect of Reflexology on Pain Intensity and Duration of Labor on Primiparas; Iran Red Crescent Med J (2011)
10. Ryan Abbott et al.; Effect of Perineal Self-Acupressure on Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Trial; J Gen Intern Med (2015)
11. Sun Hwan Bae; Diets for Constipation; Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr (2014)
12. Prof. Kerryn Phelps et al.; The Mystery Gut
13. 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)
14. Britt Brandon; Apple Cider Vinegar For Health: 100 Amazing and Unexpected Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar; page 27
15. 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)
16. Management of common symptoms of pregnancy; Antenatal Care: Routine Care for the Healthy Pregnant Woman
17. Tina Sara Verghese et al.; Constipation in pregnancy; Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2015)

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Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for Momjunction.com. She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at: linkedin.com/in/kothapalli-rebecca-35881628
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