Constipation during pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body is expanding, evolving, and creating greater amounts of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen. Your intestinal muscles also tend to relax when you're pregnant. This slows down the entire digestive tract, so your intestines need more time to process food.

Constipation during pregnancy can cause abdominal pain or discomfort, along with hard, difficult and infrequent poos. These are the usual signs of constipation during pregnancy1,2.

Common symptoms of constipation during pregnancy

For a safe and peaceful pregnancy, it's important to address any discomfort. This includes constipation, which is second to nausea as the most common gastrointestinal complaint in pregnancy3. Constipation is most prominent during the third trimester when it can impact day-to-day life, makings things very uncomfortable. Symptoms include:

Fewer than three poos a week. This is a rough estimate based on average data. If you're in doubt about whether or not you're constipated, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor4.

Dry, hard poo or excessive straining

Feeling gassy, bloated and uncomfortable

Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowels

Causes of constipation during pregnancy

Pregnancy creates a lot of change in a woman’s body. And around 50% of pregnant women experience constipation, with the odds increasing as your due date approaches. Although the condition isn't dangerous, you still need to address it to look after yourself and your baby1,2.

Quick tips to prevent constipation during pregnancy

Once you’ve managed to pinpoint constipation as the cause of your discomfort, you can do something about it. The good news is, a few simple daily habits can help you feel lighter and brighter:

Frequently Asked Questions

When you start talking constipation, the same questions often pop up. Here they are, along with the answers.

  • Yes, women experience constipation more often than men. This can be explained by the presence of oestrogen and progesterone, hormones that directly interfere with movement in the intestines. Especially during their menstrual cycles and pregnancy, women can get constipated4.

    Another reason that constipation affects more women is the pelvic floor. This plays an important role in emptying the intestines.

  • During pregnancy, your body is expanding, evolving and creating greater amounts of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen. Your intestinal muscles tend to relax and the entire digestive tract slows down. As a result, it can take longer to process food, which can cause constipation.

    Constipation during pregnancy can cause abdominal pain or discomfort, along with difficult, infrequent and hard poos. Although constipation isn't dangerous during pregnancy, you still need to address it to protect yourself and your baby1,2.

  • Medicines can affect the unborn baby and should not be taken during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, and during breast feeding. Ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice before taking laxatives during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

  • Science has shown that stress and constipation often go hand in hand. Studies show a slower rate of motility (speed of transit of food) through the colon in patients who have anxiety. A theory put forward to explain this link involves the enteric nervous system and the gut-brain axis7.

    The enteric nervous system (ENS) or ‘second brain’ describes the nerves lining the digestive tract. These nerves, which consist of millions of neurons, control the digestion of food. In states of stress and anxiety, disruption to the ENS-brain connection reduces motility through the gastrointestinal tract, leading to constipation. This is a malfunctioning of the ‘gut-brain axis’, which connects the gut to the brain8.

The Dulco® range

Occasional constipation is very common and can happen to anyone from time to time. It’s natural to have questions about how to find relief from constipation. And below, you'll find answers to some of the most common questions.

Learn more about constipation

Here, you'll find answers to some of the most common questions about constipation. You'll also find guidance on how to get rid of it and how to stay regular.

    1. American Pregnancy Association. Constipation in Pregnancy. 2020. Accessed 14/11/2022

    2. Harms RW. Mayo Clinic guide to a healthy pregnancy. 2011. Mayo Foundation for medical education and research.

    3. Trottier M, Erebara A, Bozzo P. Treating constipation during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2012 Aug;58(8):836-8.

    4. Camilleri M, Ford AC, Mawe GM, Dinning PG, Rao SS, Chey WD, Simrén M, Lembo A, Young-Fadok TM, Chang L. Chronic constipation. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2017 Dec 14;3:17095.

    5. Basilisco G, Coletta M. Chronic constipation: a critical review. Dig Liver Dis. 2013 Nov;45(11):886-93.

    6. Sanofi data on file - Coated Tablets 2017.

    7. Jessurun JG, van Harten PN, Egberts TC, Pijl YJ, Wilting I, Tenback DE. The Relation between Psychiatric Diagnoses and Constipation in Hospitalized Patients: A Cross-Sectional Study. Psychiatry J. 2016;2016:2459693.

    8. Mindsethealth - Anxiety and Constipation - Can Stress Cause Constipation? 2019 Accessed 14/11/2022