Your body goes through so many changes during pregnancy. You may tear up at sappy commercials, your breasts may swell, and your skin may glow (or break out). Your bowels also undergo major changes, which may unfortunately cause constipation. Your internal organs, including your intestines, have to move around a bit to make room for your baby and placenta. This, added pressure in the entire abdomen, and pregnancy hormones are the most common causes of constipation, particularly in the third trimester. Constipation can happen at any point during pregnancy, though, for a variety of reasons.

Constipation in and of itself is mostly an annoyance. However, constipation, or any difficulty with bowel movements, can lead to hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids may worsen over time, especially during childbirth, so preventing them in the first place is often easier than treating them once they occur. Here are several ways to help prevent or ease constipation while you’re expecting.


It’s estimated that your water needs increase from eight glasses per day pre-pregnancy to 10 glasses per day while you’re expecting (and that jumps even higher if you breastfeed!). Water is, of course, good for a number of bodily functions, but it’s particularly important for digestion. Be sure you’re staying on top of your H2O consumption to prevent constipation. The Catch-22 is that you’re probably already peeing more frequently while you’re pregnant, but drinking those extra ounces is worth it to keep things moving and prevent unwanted hemorrhoids.


Fiber is key. If you’re experiencing constipation or even hemorrhoids, adding fiber-rich foods to your diet should help get things moving pretty quickly and make your time on the toilet a little easier. Good sources of fiber include whole wheat, many fresh fruits and vegetables, and legumes and nuts. Some specific examples of foods high in fiber are oatmeal, apples, broccoli, and black beans. If you find it difficult to get enough fiber from food alone, consider a fiber supplement. Finally, probiotics or fermented foods like cultured yogurt and kimchi can also be good for the gut.


Stool softeners are pretty self explanatory for how they can help with constipation, but they can also help prevent hemorrhoids by easing strain.

When choosing a stool softener, be sure you do NOT opt for a laxative containing stimulants. Some laxatives can cause cramping in the abdomen, which is not something you particularly want if you’re pregnant (especially in the third trimester). Look for the words “stimulant free,” but if you’re still unsure of what to choose, consult with your healthcare provider.


Many pregnant women are advised to take an iron supplement, as mild anemia is common while expecting. Unfortunately, iron supplements are notorious for causing gastrointestinal issues. If your healthcare provider has recommended such a supplement for you, talk to them about which kind might be easiest on your tummy (often, it’s the “slow release” version). You should always consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements into your diet, especially while pregnant, but if you’re taking anything else you may want to review those ingredients and nutrient levels to make sure they will not further “back you up.”


It can be difficult to stay active during pregnancy. You may be nauseated, exhausted, and swollen, but if you have any inkling to move around, do it! You don’t need to run a marathon, just a quick 10-minute walk may be enough to help your digestion. Moving your body can literally move your bowels!


Okay, it’s bold to give this advice to a pregnant woman and is admittedly easier said than done. But lowering stress levels while expecting is good for a number of reasons. Sometimes your mood and prenatal anxieties can lead to difficulties in the bathroom. Furthermore, if you’re someone who tends to hold things in when you have to go or has anxiety about using public restrooms, pregnancy is a good time to work through that. Being in a relaxed state and using the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge can help prevent constipation.

These tips should help ease constipation during your pregnancy, but your physiology in this unique time may still make constipation difficult to overcome. If you’ve tried these things on your own but are still dealing with constipation, consult with your healthcare provider. Your constipation can lead to hemorrhoids, which can worsen during delivery or postpartum, so it’s best to address the problem as soon as you can.