Pregnancy and constipation

Pregnancy is an exciting time of transformation. From conception to childbirth, your body will go through many changes — some more pleasant than others. Fluctuating hormone levels are responsible for many of the emotional and physical changes that you might experience during pregnancy, including backaches, nausea, exhaustion, heartburn, and occasional constipation.

How does pregnancy affect your digestive system?

Constipation occurs in nearly half of pregnant women, due to physiological and anatomical changes in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, dietary changes — such as not eating some of the foods you’re used to, or eating less — can contribute to constipation. And to top it all off, a growing fetus may slow down the movement of the bowel.

Hormonal changes
Pregnant women produce more hormones than usual, including relaxin and progesterone, which relax the joints and ligaments in the pelvic area to make room for the growing baby. They also relax the muscles of the digestive system, causing bowel movements to slow down. Another hormone, aldosterone, makes the colon absorb more liquid and electrolytes than usual, which makes stools harder. All of these changes can make it difficult to get relief.

Physical changes
Some changes in the body during pregnancy may include backache, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, hemorrhoids, frequent urination, feeling tired, increase in appetite, increased vaginal discharge, tender breasts, and constipation. Toward the end of the pregnancy, the expansion of the uterus can put an increased pressure on the intestines, which also contributes to constipation. 

Dietary changes
Different eating habits during pregnancy can cause constipation. Maybe you’re eating more of certain foods, while you can’t stand the sight of others — either way, sudden changes can cause occasional constipation.

Pregnancy and constipation

Pregnancy should be the time where you focus on you and your little one — not worry about constipation. If you’re suffering from constipation while pregnant or breastfeeding, please seek advice from your healthcare professional.

Dulcolax® family of products

Dulcolax® Stool Softener
Constipation affects women more often than men — so we offer Dulcolax®Stool Softener for stimulant-free constipation relief. Each tablet of Dulcolax®Stool Softener contains 100 mg of the #1 OB/GYN and doctor-recommended stool softener ingredient — docusate sodium.

Stay informed

Occasional constipation is a common condition with a wide range of possible causes. We know how unpredictable and frustrating constipation can be, so we are here to help you identify the possible causes and learn how to address them.