Constipation During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Constipation is so common that it's rare for moms not to experience it.


Some pregnancy annoyances are discussed in polite company. Morning sickness, check. Swollen ankles, check. But irregularity? It's pretty much in the closet. Heartburn, constipation and indigestion are not uncommon, though, thanks to the hormone progesterone, which relaxes your stomach muscles, slowing digestion.

"Constipation is so common that it's rare for new moms not to experience it," says Mavis Schorn, Ph.D., C.N.M., director of the nurse-midwifery program at Vanderbilt School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn. Anesthesia administered during labor, and narcotic pain medication given after, can cause the sluggishness too. And if you had a Cesarean section, your bowels may be in full revolt. "The trauma of surgery really makes things grind to a halt," she adds. Wondering when you'll start to experience constipation? Which foods pack the most fiber and how much do you need? You'll find answers to these questions—and more—in the articles below.

Ask the Experts: Preventing Constipation
Why is constipation a problem during pregnancy, and can it be prevented?

In The Rough
During pregnancy, you need fiber more than ever to keep things running smoothly.

40 Weeks
By week 22 you may be developing hemorrhoids and constipation.

Super Foods
The best mix of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients comes in nature's packages. Try berries, broccoli, and legumes to get 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day.

Recipe: Chickpea Salad

Recipe: Penne with Chicken and Broccoli

Recipe: Red Lentil Soup

Recipe: Bulgur Breakfast Bowl