Pregnant woman drinking water

Here we talk about how small lifestyle changes can help prevent you from getting constipation while you’re pregnant. 

Around 40% of women will develop constipation in pregnancy due to changes in hormone levels. Yet simple things like healthy eating and exercise can help to keep constipation away.

It’s worth trying what you can to help prevent constipation in pregnancy. Constipation can sometimes lead to haemorrhoids and anal fissures, which can be itchy, uncomfortable or painful.

"Hydration, relaxed toilet breaks, activity and diet can all help you to fend off this annoying symptom."

Five ways to help prevent constipation in pregnancy

1. Stay hydrated

It’s important to drink plenty of water while you’re pregnant. Staying hydrated will also help to keep things moving along comfortably in your digestive system. It’s worth carrying a bottle of water out and about with you and keeping track of how thirsty you feel (NHS Choices, 2018).

2. Keep moving

It’s good to keep active when you are pregnant. Keeping active might also mean you are less likely to have problems later on in your pregnancy.

Getting regular exercise is sometimes easier said than done, especially in pregnancy. Walking, pregnancy yoga and swimming, for example, are great exercises at this time (NHS Choices, 2017a; 2018).

3. Maintain a balanced diet

Are you getting your five a day? When you’re pregnant your eating habits may change. Tiredness in pregnancy can also cause you to reach for a quick but not always the most nutritious­ snack.

It’s really important to eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fibre to keep constipation at bay. So make sure you’re including wholegrains in your diet as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables (NHS Choices, 2018).

4. Enjoy iron-rich foods

Include some iron-rich foods in your meals, like spinach, red meat, fish, pulses and beans. This may help you avoid needing iron supplements, which can cause constipation (NHS Choices, 2018).

If your GP has prescribed iron supplement tablets for you and you are constipated without signs of improvement, talk to them about it. Ask them if you can manage without the iron supplements or change to a different type.

5. Make time for yourself

It’s important to go when you need to go. Give yourself plenty of time for toilet breaks, so you can take it easy and don’t have to rush. Holding it in can lead to constipation, so try to listen to your body and visit the toilet as soon as you need to (NHS Choices, 2017b; 2018).

If you are pregnant and suffering from constipation, read our article about constipation in pregnancy, as there are ways to help improve it.

If you are concerned about your health during your pregnancy talk to your midwife or GP for advice.

Further Information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

Find out more about constipation and other medical information from NHS Choices.

NHS Choices. (2017a) Exercise in pregnancy. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pregnancy-exercise/ [Accessed 1st July 2017]

NHS Choices. (2017b) Constipation in pregnancy. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/constipation/ [Accessed 1st July 2017]

NHS Choices. (2018) Common health problems in pregnancy. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/common-pregnancy-problems.aspx#Constipation [Accessed 1st July 2017]

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