How to Poop When You're Pregnant, According to an Ob-Gyn

Pregnant constipation
Emilija Manevska | Getty
Emilija Manevska | Getty

Pregnancy is typically accompanied with a host of uncomfortable symptoms, from tender and swollen breasts to drastic changes in your nose. But one change that's particularly uncomfortable is constipation.

"Pregnancy can change bowel habits in multiple different ways," says obstetrician-gynecologist Staci Tanouye, MD FACOG. This includes causing constipation in people who otherwise had normal bowel movements," Dr. Tanouye says.

The good thing is, constipation during pregnancy is completely normal and typically resolves after giving birth. But why does constipation happen to begin with?

The hormonal changes in your body that make pregnancy possible can increase your chances of becoming constipated, according to Cleveland Clinic. Specifically the body begins to make more of the hormone progesterone which relaxes the bowel so it doesn't squeeze waste out as quickly. This helps the baby because it allows the body more time to absorb nutrients and water, but doesn't help in the bathroom because the colon has a longer time to absorb the moisture out of the food making the waste dried out and therefore hard to pass.

There are also other reasons that can factor in, like the weight of the fetus on the bowel, especially in the last trimester, or the prenatal vitamin you're taking may be too high in iron which is putting a strain on your digestive system. POPSUGAR spoke with Dr. Tanouye to get all the details about pregnancy constipation and the simple lifestyle changes you can make to help with the uncomfortable symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Pregnancy Constipation?

Similar to any type of constipation, pregnancy constipation symptoms include infrequent bowel movements (only a few times a week) that lead to abdominal or pelvic discomfort. "People often have hard small stools that they have to strain to get out," Dr. Tanouye says. Your belly can also feel swollen and gassy.

When Does Constipation Start In Pregnancy?

Early pregnancy constipation is quite common. "Constipation can start as soon as someone gets pregnant and last throughout pregnancy," Dr. Tanouye says. "The duration can vary person to person." Typically you start to feel constipated once the hormone levels in your body increase to support pregnancy which can happen as early as the second or third month of your first trimester. But you're most likely to get constipated in the third trimester because the fetus is at its heaviest therefore putting the most pressure on your bowel, per Cleveland Clinic.

What Is Safe to Take For Constipation While Pregnant?

Pregnancy constipation treatment is similar to anyone experiencing constipation. To alleviate discomfort, Dr. Tanouye says the best things to do are to increase water (think 8 to 12 cups a day) and fiber intake (aim to get at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber-rich foods daily) — and get a squatty potty.

Also, talk to your doctor about how to safely introduce physical activity into your routine based on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Exercise can help the digestive system move waste out of the body. Try walking, swimming, yoga, pilates or light aerobics for about 20 to 30 minutes three times a week and see if it makes a difference. For extra support Dr. Tanouye recommends Miralax, an over-the-counter laxative.