Constipation During Pregnancy: Symptoms & How to Treat

May 2022

Constipation during pregnancy is normal and happens due to expected, pregnancy-related changes. Abdominal growth and the weight of the uterus on the intestines can interfere with bowel flow.

This is why pregnant women should maintain healthy habits, like consuming more water, eating fiber.rich foods and practising some form of physical activity. These factors can promote optimal intestinal function. 

Constipation during pregnancy does not harm the baby, but it can cause cramping and abdominal discomfort in the mother. When these symptoms are accompanied by nausea or abdominal pain on just one side, you should see your obstetritian for assessment. He or she will evaluate your symptoms and determine whether treatment is necessary. 

Common symptoms

Symptoms of constipation during pregnancy emerge because during pregnancy, the uterus applies pressure on the intestines. Normal hormonal changes related to pregnancy also make intestinal flow slower. The most common symptoms of constipation during pregnancy are: 

  • Cramps
  • Hard abdomen
  • Bloating;
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal discomfort

It is important for women to opt for a healthier lifestyle when pregnant to avoid constipation and other uncomfortable symptoms. If the symptoms are very intense or if you experience nausea, you should see your obstetrician for assessment. The doctor will evaluate the need for laxatives or a suppository. 

How to treat constipation during pregnancy 

To treat constipation during pregnancy, you can consider these tips: 

  1. Eat a prune every day.
  2. Increase your fiber intake with foods like whole grain cereal, passionfruit, almonds with the peel, cabbage, pears, apples, pears with the peel or tangerines. Check out our list of fiber-rich foods that you can add to your daily diet. 
  3. Increase your intake of foods with water, like parsnips, tomato, radishes, watermelon, strawberries or melon. Learn more about which naturally laxative foods you can eat to help treat constipation. 
  4. Drink 1.5 to 2 L of water per day (6 to 8 cups per day). This fluid intake can be consumed as soups or smoothies. If you can difficulty drinking water, you can also consider drinking tea, or flavoring your water with a lemon or orange slice. Keeping flavored water in a pitcher in the fridge can also be helpful.
  5. Another important tip is to be physically active. Because your growing belly may be heavy, you should aim for light stretching or walking. 

Another great way to combat constipation during pregnancy is to make a smoothie with natural yogurt, papaya and honey for breakfast. 

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in May 2022. Clinical review completed by Tatiana Zanin - Registered Dietitian in May 2022.
Clinical review:
Tatiana Zanin
Registered Dietitian
Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal