All About Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation during pregnancy is a common ailment, and it's important to find a solution. It's not only bothersome, but can also have serious consequences when it comes to your health.
All About Constipation During Pregnancy
Sara Viruega Encinas

Written and verified by the pharmacist Sara Viruega Encinas.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Constipation during pregnancy is a common ailment that affects many women. In fact, approximately 50% of expectant mothers suffer from this condition. It should be of no surprise, as a woman’s body undergoes a number of changes during these 9 months. With these changes appear certain digestive issues.

Everyone knows that many women suffer from nausea and vomiting during their first trimester of pregnancy. And in the same way, it’s not uncommon for mothers-to-be to experience indigestion, gas, and even constipation. It’s considered to be a case of constipation when a woman has less than three bowel movements per week.

What does constipation occur during pregnancy?

When the gestation period begins, a number of changes occur in a woman’s body that affect her entire body. One of these is an increase in the secretion of progesterone, a fundamental hormone during pregnancy. 

Initially, progesterone is responsible for preparing the uterus to house the embryo. At the same time, it favors the elasticity of tissue, prevents uterine contractions, and protects the fetus by forming the mucus plug. However, progesterone is also responsible for slowing down the digestive process as well as intestinal transit.

All About Constipation During Pregnancy

Another aspect that contributes to constipation during pregnancy is the pressure that the uterus places on the intestine and rectum. This takes place especially during the last months of gestation. The movement of foods through the digestive tract becomes more complicated and slow.

On occasion, iron supplements – which doctors often prescribe to pregnant women – is also often to blame for constipation. Anemia is another common problem during pregnancy, given a woman’s increased need for blood and red blood cells to nourish her baby. When anemia appears, then an additional boost of iron is the necessary course of treatment.

If iron causes constipation during pregnancy, a doctor will evaluate possible options. He or she may reduce the dosage or take additional measures. If anemia is an issue, then it’s best not to reduce iron intake on your own in order to prevent constipation. Rather, consult a specialist, as there are other solutions available.

Consequences of constipation during pregnancy

As we’ve said, constipation during pregnancy is an issue that you shouldn’t ignore. It’s not just an issue of discomfort – constipation can lead to serious consequences for your health.

When constipation occurs, the effort required to make a bowel movement is greater. As a consequence, pressure on the intestinal walls increases, impeding normal blood circulation. This tends to cause the veins in the area to dilate and leads to the formation of varicose veins and hemorrhoids, among other issues.

Sometimes, constipation is also responsible for the appearance of cystitis and vaginitis during pregnancy. This is because of bacteria increase due to stagnant feces in the intestines. This bacteria can migrate to the urinary tract, producing infections.

All About Constipation During Pregnancy

How to combat constipation during pregnancy?

As we’ve seen, constipation during pregnancy is the result of many processes that are beyond our control. But there are also effective measures you can take to relieve constipation. One of them is exercising regularly, while of course adapting to your own possibilities.

Adjusting your diet is another effective way to deal with constipation during pregnancy. If you’re experiencing this issue, then be sure to consume foods that are rich in fiberSome options you may find helpful are the following:

  • Fruit: For example, oranges, kiwis and grapes.
  • Vegetables: Such as spinach, greens, green beans, or lettuce.
  • Legumes.

At the same time, you should also increase your liquid intake. During pregnancy, a woman’s body needs more liquids and, as a result, the intestines absorb a greater among of water. Therefore, feces become harder and bowel movements become more difficult. To combat the issue, make sure you drink at least six cups of water each day.


Constipation during pregnancy is a common issue. Try to follow a diet that’s rich in fiber and be sure to stay physically activeIf you’re still unable to get the problem under control, then your doctor will be able to recommend a solution.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Herrero, B. T., Martínez, M. R., García, R. P., Gutiérrez, L., Plaza, M. L., Ferrer, A. R., & Cabañero, M. J. (2001). Evolución de los signos y síntomas gastrointestinales durante el embarazo y el puerperio. Investigación y Educación en Enfermería19(1).
  • Kutscher, V. (1996). Embarazo y anemia. Matronas profesión, 15-17.
  • Vicente, V. P., Soler, A. M., Garrido, A. S., & Cuadrado, V. R. (2012). Tratamiento del estreñimiento. Medicine-Programa de Formación Médica Continuada Acreditado11(6), 337-346.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.