Constipation in pregnancy can start as early as the first trimester. That’s because pregnant women have higher concentrations of the hormone progesterone -- and progesterone slows down the movement of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Other factors may compound the problem:
- Your larger uterus may interfere with GI function.
- Iron in prenatal vitamins can also trigger constipation, so much so that some prescription prenatal vitamins now contain a built-in stool softener.
- Sometimes women who aren’t feeling great avoid the foods that keep them regular. Instead they eat comfort foods that are binding and lower in fiber. (All I wanted during my pregnancies was mashed potatoes with sour cream, so I understand!)
Up to 39 percent of women experience constipation in pregnancy, so you’re definitely not alone and should feel comfortable discussing it with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend a stool softener, diet changes and/or a different prenatal vitamin.
If you find something that makes you feel better, stick with it! Otherwise, you will become constipated again.
The constipation you experience in pregnancy may not resolve until around six weeks postpartum, so it’s important to stay hydrated after baby arrives --especially if you’re nursing.