Ways to Ease Constipation During Pregnancy

By Marisa Cohen
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
January 25, 2023

You may know the feeling: You’ve got to go, but nothing’s happening. It can be uncomfortable and frustrating to be constipated. Constipation, which is generally defined as having three or fewer bowel movements per week, is very common during pregnancy, says Alex Robles, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in New York City. About 40% of pregnant people may experience that uncomfortable stopped-up feeling.

What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy?

The main culprit for pregnancy constipation is the pregnancy hormone progesterone: “Progesterone can slow down gut motility and also decrease the muscle contractions in the colon, which is basically what allows the stool to be propelled forward,” Robles explains.

Constipation can start as early as your first trimester, though it becomes more common as your pregnancy progresses.