Causes and effects of constipation during pregnancy

Constipation is one of the most common side effects of pregnancy, next to morning sickness and hypersensitivity to smells. In the vast majority of cases, there is nothing to worry about: the causes of constipation during pregnancy are completely natural and not serious. Nonetheless, this digestive disorder remains unpleasant...


What explains constipation in pregnant women?

Around one in two pregnant women suffer from constipation. It often occurs from the first trimester onwards, even in women who usually have no intestinal transit problems. Strange? Not really, when you consider that pregnancy is a time of significant physiological and hormonal changes. Some of them help the embryo and then the foetus develop correctly. Others prepare the body for childbirth...

Among all these changes, increased progesterone levels can cause constipation during early pregnancy. This hormone can reduce (or even prevent) the contractions of smooth muscles, such as the muscles of the digestive tract or uterus, which are beyond our control. Progesterone plays a key role because, by preventing uterine contractions, it reduces the risk of miscarriage and premature birth. The only problem is that it also affects the smooth muscles of the colon. Hence a slowing of intestinal transit during pregnancy...

In addition to this hormonal factor, the foetus develops, taking up more and more space in the body. In the third trimester, it can compress the colon to the point that constipation is often more notable during late pregnancy.


What are the effects of constipation during pregnancy?

Don’t worry, functional constipation neither impacts your baby’s development nor endangers your health. Nonetheless, it can entail various discomforts, such as bloating, gas and lack of appetite. Constipation can also cause abdominal pain during pregnancy and contribute to the development of haemorrhoids.

In short, it’s really not pleasant. The temptation to take laxatives may be great under such circumstances, but you should try to avoid self-medication as many laxatives are not recommended for pregnant women. It’s better to discuss your bowel problems with your doctor and get practical advice and/or treatment for constipation that is suitable for pregnancy. Natural remedies can also be considered.

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