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Constipation During Pregnancy

What are the signs of constipation?

Signs of constipation include many days between bowel movements, small hard stools that are difficult to pass, and lower belly pain.

Why do pregnant women get constipated?

Some of the hormones produced during pregnancy act to slow the movement of the bowel and this can cause you to get constipated. Iron supplements can also make some women get constipated.

What can I do to prevent this?

Eat a diet rich in high-fiber foods such as fresh or dried fruits and vegetables plus high-fiber cereal. If you suddenly eat a lot more fiber, you may get bloating, diarrhea, and gas pressure. If this happens, try increasing the amount slowly over a week or more.

Also, drinking enough water (at least eight glasses per day) and getting regular exercise can all help to prevent constipation.

What can I do if I become constipated?

The first thing to try is to increase the fiber in your diet, drink a lot of water, and exercise regularly. You can also try prunes and prune juice, as these things help to speed up elimination. If these things do not help, see the safe medications page during pregnancy. If you are unable to pass a bowel movement, have severe abdominal pain or rectal bleeding, you should contact your physician.

Chart of Foods and Amount of Fiber

Food Portion Dietary Fiber Soluble Insoluble
Apple 1 medium 2.9 0.9 2.0
Orange 1 medium 2.0 1.3 0.7
Banana 1 medium 2.0 0.6 1.4
Broccoli 1 stalk 2.7 1.3 1.4
Carrots 1 large 2.9 1.3 1.6
Tomato 1 small 0.8 0.1 0.7
Potato 1 medium 1.8 1.0 0.7
Corn 2/3 cup 1.6 0.2 1.4
All-Bran 1/2 cup 9.0 1.4 7.6
Fiber One 1/2 cup 14.0 1.0 13.0
Oat Bran 1/2 cup 4.4 2.2 2.2
Cornflakes 1 cup 0.5 0.0 0.5
Rolled Oats 3/4 cup cooked 3.0 1.3 1.7
Whole-wheat Bread 1 slice 1.4 0.3 1.1
White Bread 1 slice 0.4 0.3 0.1
Macaroni 1 cup cooked 0.8 0.5 0.3
Green Peas 2/3 cup cooked 3.9 0.6 3.3
Kidney Beans 1/2 cup cooked 6.5 1.6 4.9
Pinto Beans 1/2 cup cooked 5.9 1.2 4.7
Lentils 2/3 cup cooked 4.5 0.6 3.9


Data from Anderson JW, Bridges SR: Dietary fiber content of selected foods. Am J Clin Nutr;47:440-7, 1988 and Bowes AD: Bowes and Church’s Food values of portions commonly used. 14th ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Copyright: Advanced Medical Systems Inc. 2003

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