Painful Constipation During Pregnancy

Updated on September 21, 2009
T.D. asks from Minooka, IL
40 answers

My best friend is pregnant with her second pregnancy. She has been experiencing painful constipation for about five days at a time. When she does go, it's not enough that she feels relief. She consulted her doctor and he suggested OTC anti-constipation medicine, but nothing is working for her. She's been feeling really depressed, with headaches. It's even affecting her work performance, because she can't even focus. Has anyone experience this? If so, what did you do to help?

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M.H.

answers from Chicago on

I did a lot of walking with lots of water and good diet. After I had my son the dr told me to take a pill. It starts with S? Sorry I do not remember the name but it was a stool softner vs fiber and I think it helped more than the fiber pils I was on. Good luck.

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M.S.

answers from Chicago on

I'm 7.5 mths pregnant & have had some on&off again problems w/ constipation, after clearing it w/ my doc I've been taking Lactobacillus acidophilus twice daily and it has helped tremendously. Increasing her H20 intake (to stay hydrated) may also help.

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J.L.

answers from Chicago on

I can't remember the name of the Prenatal vitimin I was prescribed but know that it had a stool softener in it. You might suggest she ask her dr about it. Made things much "easier".

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K.H.

answers from Chicago on

I have had that problem most of my life but it got much worse during pregnancy. I used to take medamusil every day. I would mix it up with orange juice. I have taken every medicine made and that worked the best. Now I eat a bowel of Quaker Oats every morning. That helps too. Good luck to your friend. It is not pleasant.

1 mom found this helpful
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S.T.

answers from Chicago on

Fiber and a great probiotic (with 3 or more different types of active cultures and about 20 billion of them in each dose.) If she like juice, Good Belly, found at whole foods will do the trick to. It has the 20 billion in an 8 oz. serving. Also, and juices with nectar in them (peac, pear, apricot) when use at full strength are very helpful too.

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B.F.

answers from Chicago on

There is an all natural tea bag called "Smooth Move". Believe me, it works wonders! It has a licorace taste/smell... but if you can endure the smell & taste... it works!

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C.K.

answers from Chicago on

Has she tried miralax? It used to be prescribed but now is over the counter. Several friends of mine used it and it worked. Good luck.

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E.M.

answers from Chicago on

I am a chiropractic physician (and mom of 2 adorable kiddos) who works with a lot of pregnant women especially on diet and supplements to make sure they are getting all the things they need in terms of pre-natal vitamins while mediating side-effects such as constipation. Although I can't give specifics to your friend's case without knowing the whole story, there are several different things we could try. Please visit my website and let me know if I can be of assistance. www.trilliumchiro.com

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W.M.

answers from Chicago on

I too was haunted by horrible constipation. I felt like no amount of fiber really gave me relief. I tried everything from cereal to exercise to Metamucil to OTC meds. The only thing that finally helped was giving birth! Unfortunately, relief really didn't come till after the first week. That first week I was totally miserable. One early morning later in the week, I re-indulged in coffee and SHAZAM! That ended up being my solution - a small cup of very strong coffee. I stayed away from coffee during my pregnancy but had I known that it would have brought me some relief, I probably would have gone ahead!

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D.R.

answers from Chicago on

I too had the same issue and would sometimes go every 7 days! Unfortunately the prenatal vitamins have iron in them which, along with everything shifting, contributes to the problem. My OB/Gyn said to take two Colase everyday. This helped tremendously. I would go every 3 days, but still sometimes go longer - then I would do a suppository. I used the Fleet for kids - much gentler. The constipation subsided during my 3rd trimester. Hope this helps!

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J.J.

answers from Chicago on

What kind of prenatal vitamin is she taking? If it's a prescription brand, then it is quite likely that it is way too high in iron, which could be constipating her. I recommend that she switch to the "Whole Foods" brand of prenatal vitamin (which requires taking 3 tablets a day, preferably with meals).

Prescription prenatal vitamins are also notoriously low in B-vitamins, in spite of the fact that as soon as conception happens the mother's need for the B-vitamins skyrockets. Constipation can also be caused by a B-vitamin deficiency. The "Whole Foods" prenatals have more healthy levels of the Bs.

She can also try cutting out all caffeine from her diet, because caffeine destroys B-vitamins, contributing to a B-vitamin deficiency. You can see more about B-vitamins in pregnancy by reading this page (scroll down)...

http://home.mindspring.com/~djsnjones/id1.html

Is she on diuretics, either prescription or herbal? They can cause constipation and also are very hazardous in pregnancy...

http://home.mindspring.com/~djsnjones/id86.html

She can also try taking a little extra magnesium, or make sure that her calcium supplement has magnesium in it. She should make sure that she not take too much, or she could get diarrhea.

She can also try eating 1/2 cup of yogurt with each meal. This will soften her BMs.

Is she in a high-stress situation? High levels of stress can deplete one's body of B-vitamins, and potassium, and low potassium can help to cause constipation. Foods that can help with this potassium deficiency are dried apricots, avocados, cantaloupe, dried dates, orange juice, papaya,raisins, prunes, prune juice,rhubarb, and watermelon.

She can try eating foods that are high in pectin, like apples, carrots, beets, bananas, cabbage, citrus fruits, dried peas, and okra.

She can also work at avoiding all refined and processed foods and focus only on foods that she cooks herself from scratch, so that they still contain optimal levels of fiber and nutrients. She can buy whole-grain breads and cereals, checking to see if their fiber content is at least 4 grams per serving, or at least the highest that she can find (not white bread).

She can try cutting down on her added-sugar intake, especially from sodas (drinking milk and vegetable juices instead).

She can also work on eliminating fried foods from her diet.

She can try eating something every hour instead of three big meals a day. Each hourly snack should include one protein item and one raw or dried fruit or vegetable -- like 1 c milk and a handful of raisins, or a handful of almonds and a handful of dried dates, or an egg and a handful of baby carrots, or a handful of pumpkin seeds and a handful of dried apricots, or a handful of sunflower seeds and a handful of prunes, or a handful of almonds and a couple of slices of cantaloupe, or a peanut butter sandwich on 100% whole grain bread with a couple of slices of watermelon. She can eat larger servings of these foods if she is more hungry.

She can try taking a 20-min walk every day, which helps the food move through the bowels better.

She can take 250-500 mg of Vitamin C with each meal (or 3 times a day with food).

If her birth attendant wants her to take some kind of iron supplement, she can switch away from the iron salts that s/he may be giving her and instead use Floradix (available at Whole Foods stores)...

http://www.florahealth.com/flora/home/usa/products/r64771...

Best wishes,
J.

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G.R.

answers from Chicago on

Hi T.,
I was about to ask the same q's. I experienced the same thing for the past two weeks and I found out that Prenatal vitamins also cause constipation and i even got blood in my motion. When I stoped taking it for the past 3 days I dont feel it anymore. I guess your friend should consult the Gyno and ask him/her to change the priscription for prenetal vit. Hope this will help.

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M.C.

answers from Rockford on

I had the same problem at the beginning of my pregnancy and my chiropractor gave me a powdered Magnesium that did the trick. I did also consult with my ob before taking it and he said it was fine.

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A.G.

answers from Chicago on

All advice given here is already great, so I will keep myself short. She should ask her doctor to change the prenatals which sure cause constipation. never forget that doctors are also doctors to make money and they have contract with companies to prescribe certain stuff rather than the other. I do not remember the name of my prenatals, but things got better when I tood those....and as the others said, getting up and moving around and lots of of fruit (not banana's in this case).
Good luck

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S.E.

answers from Chicago on

Has she tried a good yogurt with live cultures in it. It may help regular her system. Probiotics are also something she could try to regulate her system but I would try yogurt first.

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D.B.

answers from Chicago on

Prune juice will give her relief pretty quickly. The taste is not bad at all. Then once she gets her relief, I agree with everyone else, FIBER! Benefiber is great! The only thing with the fiber is sometimes it can take a day or two to kick in,. The prune juice will work a little faster. Th Benefiber is great and I can put in everything from pasta sauce to water, and you can't taste it at all. I even give it to my little girls who use to have trouble with that all of the time. I put it in their milk and water. My oldest, who is six, asks me for it now when she hasn't gone in a day or so. She knows that it works, and I'm glad that she tells me because when she is in school all day, I don't always know if she has gone or not.

Good Luck!

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M.

answers from Chicago on

Try increasing magnesium. this should help with constipation, depression and headaches.

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Z.D.

answers from Chicago on

I personally have never experienced this but ny BFF has. She drinks a tea every night before bedtime. She gets it from Whole Foods and the brand is Smooth Move Senna Leaf Tea. It's a form of laxative/stool softner. Just makes it possible to go in the morning regularly as she has been fighting the constipation problem ever since she hit 2nd trimester. Hope this helps your BFF.

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J.F.

answers from Chicago on

Hi T.,
It sounds like your friend could use some pro-biotics. I would tell her to go to Whole Foods and get some asap! We use Renew Life Smart Flora which comes in a capsule and she can take a few a day.
Pro-biotics help the body digest foods. I would also suggest telling her to cut back on sugar in her diet. Less fruit/processed sugars, more veggies and LOTS of water! I hope she's feeling better soon.
blessings,
J.

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A.H.

answers from Chicago on

I had this and the thing that worked for me was adding fiber into my diet...it helped a ton. Also more fresh fruits & veggies. Make sure she's drinking a ton of water, too.

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M.V.

answers from Rockford on

I too experienced this problem, even a little now and I have 4 weeks left!

I make sure to eat a lot of fiber, GNC makes a great one. Dark leafy veggies, I eat a lot of spinach and swiss chard along with kale. I drink enough water to where my urine is clear. Keeping hydrated will help a lot. Last Yogurts like Activia... If she's at a desk job, she should take time to walk while at work, and also again later in the day. Sitting for long periods of time and the lack of movement will hinder the cause.

These helped me a lot especially the water, walking fiver and vegies! If she's eating a lot of bananas have her lay off of them for a while until she experiences some relief.

All of those together is what I did in then beginning and it worked! I also got a suggestion from my midwife, to apply prep h before going to the bathroom, to help aid in pain relief. Tell her not to sit on the toilet for too long or forcefully push due to hemorrhoids

Good Luck!

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C.K.

answers from Chicago on

Metamucil 2x per day and lots and lots of water! I can't tell you enough how well this stuff works! Much better than a drug because it is a natural thing.

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R.R.

answers from Chicago on

I have had that problem too. Feel free to give her my info and I can tell her more about what I did [email protected]____.com is not fun and can be downright awful, but there are things she can do to help this problem. I would also want to know if there are any medications she is taking because that can inhibit water absorption causing stools to be hard and almost impassable.

Thank you.

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J.S.

answers from Champaign on

I had this with each of my 3 pregnancies. 4-8 oz. of prune juice/day (start w/4 oz. and increase gradually if it's not working - Sunsweet has the best taste). I usually would go w/in 1 day of drinking he juice. Also, use vaseline or preparation H on the anus prior to a movement (preferably a couple of hours beforehand), it helps alleviate the pain.

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

Is she drinking enough water, participating in light exercising (walking), and including fruits and vegetables in her diet? Those are all good starter tips to try to alleviate the constipation.

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C.W.

answers from Chicago on

I had that my 2nd time. I would be curled up in bed in pain. You have to attack it from all ends...the meds, but also the diet big time. Prunes or prune juice...liquids by the liter! Hopefully she is past morning sickness and can eat. I would absolutely not take meds before talking to a Dr., but ask the Dr. about Miralax. You mix it into the drink and it is flavorless.

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G.T.

answers from Chicago on

T.,

I'm expecting and I had that for about 3-4 days during this summer. I found that I needed to increase my veggie intake and decrease my protein intake. Anything green will help: spinach, brocolli, green beans, etc. (not so much with salad greens like iceberg or romaine) I also started drinking v8 (low sodium) and it helped too. Another thing she may want to consider is switching her prenatal vitamin. Some of the prescription versions have a super high content of iron...which will constipate you. Tell her the whole foods brand is great. I hope this helps.

-Da G. :D

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

Try prune juice or eat prunes.

M.

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L.R.

answers from Chicago on

Looks like tons of great advice, so I'll make mine to the point. I experienced this and ended up with a fissure because of it.

- Lots of water
- Fruit and veggies
- 1 Colace/day (stool softener)
- 1 Benefiber pill/day
- 1/2 tsp. of Milk of Magnesia to help you go(consult ob/gyn for exact safe amount and how often)
- Tums can cause major back-ups too because of the calcium

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T.B.

answers from Chicago on

try taking some miralax it helped keey me regular throughout my pregnancy

K.L.

answers from Chicago on

She'll definitely want to do the probiotics during her entire pregnancy--they also help your gut healthy so you aren't as prone to getting sick, which is nice when pregnant. The water, fresh greens and prunes/juice also will go a long way. If she is pregnant she should be taking a good DHA fish oil capsule/supplement. (Nordic Naturals is what I use). This will not only lube things back there and help keep her regular but will help the baby to have a healthier nervous system.
I also cannot stress enough the benefits of chiropractic during pregnancy. It helps EVERYTHING.

The following information is from The Wise Woman Herbal For The Child Bearing Year-this is a very helpful book.

Is there an anemia concern; is she taking an iron supplement? Ferrous sulphate is commonly prescribed to prevent and correct iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy. There are many reasons to avoid it. It is VERY constipating, it is poorly absorbed (only 10-30%), it stresses the organs of elimination, it may cause indigestion, miscarriages have been associated with its use and it may irritate the kidneys and cause them to break down.
There is an herb you can get at the health food store called Yellow Dock Root. It is a good source of fully absorbable, nonconstipating iron. Vit C aids in assimilation of iron.

Hope she feels better soon!

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N.J.

answers from Chicago on

If she can stand it she can suck all the juice out of one lemon. Lemons are a natural diarhetic. That way if she is worried about taking a lot of medication she would not have to worry cause lemons are natural and good for you. I didn't have this symptom but my son is 5 and is often constipated. The doc recommended for him enemas rectally and mineral oil orally. I would check with a doc on the last 2 but they should work fairly well if she can do either of those. Also if she is having a lot of stomach cramping chamomile pills can help. I have found them in the vitamin section at Whole Foods. They are safe for pregnancy cause they are like chamomile tea. Good Luck!

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C.M.

answers from Chicago on

How's her diet? Plenty of fresh fruit DAILY, especially fruit that contains water such as watermelon, and bananas are also a good source to insure regularity, prunes/or prune juice on a regular, raisins, and plenty of water. She should also eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, such as greens, & spinach and okra boiled in beans or greens or fried (after it's been cut up) in olive oil. She'll find relief soon once she changes her diet. Hope this helps.
P.S. I don't recommend Smooth Tea because of the pregnancy, but once she delivers Smooth Tea is definitely the way to go when needed. It's awesome, but not during pregnancy!!

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R.M.

answers from Chicago on

I'm currently pregnant but I don't have severe constipation. I'd like to think that I am preventing constipation by doing this:
1. I buy prepackaged bags of prunes at Whole Foods and I eat 2-3 prunes everyday.
2. I eat 2-3 fruit everyday.
3. I eat vegetables everyday.
4. I eat whole grain/whole wheat everyday.

I think it's important to be consistent. Having a good diet should prevent constipation. She should at least try eating the prunes everyday. Whenever I notice that I haven't gone to the bathroom I eat the prunes and go within an hour.

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B.A.

answers from Chicago on

Fiber
Water
Exercise
Prune Juice
Probiotics
and if she had problems with constipation/diarrhea before pregnancy have her go gluten free for a while. Also lower her salt in her diet as this will help will swelling in late pregnancy and put more water from her body into her digestive tract. I hope this helps.

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L.A.

answers from Bloomington on

Try taking Ginger root and vitamin b6. You can get both at walmart on the shelf.
I took them to reduce nausea, but their main functions are digestive support, and they work!!

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S.G.

answers from Chicago on

I was constipated my ENTIRE pregnancy. I never resorted to Benefiber or any supplement like that. I made sure EVERYDAY to eat a high fiber cereal in the morning (it was either frosted mini wheats or Raisin Bran Crunch) and I had an apple for my morning snack. That was my every day. I also avoided large amounts of cheese. Pizza would even stop me up if I had more than a piece or two.

I used to eat Fiber One granola bars but I found that they made me extremely gassy (like you need more of that when you're pregnant!).

Good luck to your friend.

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J.D.

answers from Chicago on

Hi T. Try drinking plenty of water, eat prunes, raisins and lot of fibers( that you get from wheat bread, vegetables and some cereals that are high in fiber).

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

I ate Total cereal for that problem and this is also a very nutritious cereal. Prune juice is helpful also. The iron pills don't help all the time. Perhaps she could split them in half twice a day instead of all at once. I am assuming that she is taking those, the prenatal vitamins that is. They are just so strong for some people. The other poster was right. Fiber, fiber, fiber. Cauliflower, broccoli, etc. She'll be fine in no time.

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M.J.

answers from Chicago on

I have never experienced this problem, but perhaps your friend might try miralax. It was recommended to my mother by her doctor. it has no flavor etc. and is quite safe and can be taken every day. this, along with a fiber-rich diet should get your friend going!

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