In one in three of these women, constipation is pre-existing and is worsened by pregnancy. Whereas in one in five women, it has just been brought on by the pregnancy. In the latter case, it will disappear after the birth.
Bowel movements are slowed down by hormones (by progesterone in particular) and by the reduction in physical activity in the 3rd trimester.
Advice to relieve constipation in pregnancy
- Drink a large bottle of water every day, preferably mineral water that is rich in magnesium, which speeds up bowel movements.
- Walk for half an hour a day and eat plenty of fibre (prunes, figs, green veg, etc.) but make changes to your diet gradually to avoid irritating your intestine.
- Take regular exercise, unless your doctor advises you not to.
Medication to use for constipation in pregnancy
Medical prescriptions will be made if changes to your diet and lifestyle aren't enough to stop constipation.
Gentle laxatives may be prescribed that make stools softer and easier to pass.
In the event of persistent constipation, suppositories might be prescribed. These are bullet-shaped capsules that are inserted directly into the rectum and then absorbed by the blood stream.
Neither laxatives nor suppositories should be used for long periods of time. Always check with your midwife or doctor before taking any kind of medication.
Homeopathy to deal with constipation in pregnancy
Homeopathic remedies can help with constipation, here are just a few to consider:
- Sepia (to help with a bloated feeling);
- Lycopodium (to help with hard stools and excess wind);
- Graphites (to help with large, mucous-like and sour-smelling stools).
Take one 30c strength tablet of your choice three times day for about five days.
You should ideally see a qualified, registered homeopath before trying any homeopathic remedies, and check with your doctor too.
Acupuncture to treat constipation in pregnancy
Depending on the type of constipation you're suffering from, different acupuncture points will be used e.g. whether you have constipation and no other symptoms, or whether your constipation is accompanied by abdominal discomfort or headaches.
Constipation should never be ignored because the act of straining can lead to hemorrhoids (piles), which are painful and uncomfortable.