Can Not Pooping Hurt the Baby? Constipation During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed on 12/15/2021
is it bad to stimulate a baby to poop?
Although the pressure buildup from constipation during pregnancy may feel harmful, it is very unlikely to hurt your baby.

If you cannot poop for a day or so while pregnant, it is very unlikely that it will hurt your baby. Though a pressure buildup that results from a constipated abdomen can make you worry for your baby, it is harmless for them.

Straining at stools or constipation may cause problems in your body, such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures, in the long run. These problems can lead to spotting or bleeding through the anus but not through the vagina.

3 causes of constipation during pregnancy

Nearly 16 to 39 percent of women end up suffering from constipation at some point in their pregnancy. Most of them develop it in the third trimester of pregnancy when the baby has grown to a bigger size, putting more pressure on the bowels. This poses difficulty for the stool to pass through your bowels.

Other causes of constipation in all three trimesters include:

  1. Hormone levels
    • The level of the hormone, progesterone increase during pregnancy. 
    • Progesterone has a relaxing effect on the muscles of the intestine.
    • The sluggishness of the intestinal muscles is one of the factors that contribute to pregnancy-associated constipation.
  2. Iron supplements
    • The iron supplements prescribed by the doctor may cause constipation if you do not drink enough water throughout the day.
    • This is because excess iron can prevent the bacteria from breaking down the food, which is exacerbated by insufficient water intake.
  3. Lifestyle
    • Generally, a good fiber intake, adequate hydration, and regular exercising are needed to have regular bowel movements.
    • These factors become more important during pregnancy when the chances of constipation are higher.

6 ways to get rid of constipation during pregnancy

  1. Diet high in fiber
    • You should aim to enrich your daily diet with 25 to 30 grams of dietary fiber.
    • This can be achieved by eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are the richest sources of fiber.
    • Particularly, munch on carrots, figs, strawberries, apples, and bananas. Even beans, peas, lentils, bran cereals, and whole-grain can provide a good amount of fiber.
  2. Enough hydration
    • During pregnancy, aim to drink 8 to 12 cups (64 to 96 ounces) of water every day. 
    • Water not only aids digestion and circulation of nutrients in the body but also helps smoothen the passage of wastes through the bowels.
  3. Smaller, frequent meals
    • Instead of having regular, heavy three-meals a day, switch to smaller, five to six meals a day.
    • This will give more time for your digestive system to process the food instead of burdening it with a large amount of food at a time.
  4. Physical activities
    • Exercising for 15 to 20 minutes three times a week is all that you need to stay physically active and avoid constipation.
    • You can include a variety of activates on different days of the week.
    • Options include hiking, swimming, or prenatal yoga. However, make sure you ask your doctor which activities are safe for you.
  5. Prune juice
    • Half a cup (or 125 mL) of prune juice two times a day is an effective home remedy to prevent and treat constipation in most pregnant women.
  6. Stool softeners

If taken according to the instructions on the label, stool softeners are generally safe during pregnancy. They help moisten your bowels and make it easy for stools to pass. If you have any concerns, ask your doctor before you take these stool softeners as the last resort.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/15/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Johnson P, Mount K, Graziano S. Functional bowel disorders in pregnancy: effect on quality of life, evaluation and management. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2014 Sep;93(9):874-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24862106/

Cleveland Clinic. Pregnancy Constipation. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21895-pregnancy-constipation

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. How much water should I drink during pregnancy? https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/ask-acog/how-much-water-should-i-drink-during-pregnancy

WebMD. Safe OTC Constipation Treatments to Use During Pregnancy. https://www.webmd.com/baby/safe-otc-constipation-treatments-to-use-during-pregnancy