Pooping and Pregnancy: A Guide to How Your BMs Might Change
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Bowel movements change during pregnancy. We will tell you why, and give you some tips on how to alleviate pregnancy challenges like constipation and hemorrhoids.
No one talks about the changes in bowel movements pregnant women face, but that doesn't make them any less real! Morning sickness isn't the only unpleasant side effect of early pregnancy. Between the hormonal changes and the physical adjustments your body has to make to accommodate a growing baby, poop is affected too.
Pregnant moms might experience loose bowel movements, hard poop, constipation or even blood in poop. Here's what you need to know:
Why Do Pregnant Women Experience Changes in Bowel Movements?
"It is not uncommon to experience changes to bowel movements during pregnancy," Andrea Maxim, a naturopathic doctor from southern Ontario, told FamilyEducation. According to Maxim, a combination of hormonal fluctuations, nervousness about the new pregnancy and a change in eating habits can all contribute to constipation or diarrhea during early pregnancy and throughout the first trimester.
Later in pregnancy, constipation may continue to be an issue, coupled with hemorrhoids.
Constipation in Pregnant Women
Constipation only gets worse during pregnancy and usually peaks during the second and third trimesters. "The iron in prenatal vitamins can contribute to constipation, but it's also privy to skeletal changes to allow room for the growing uterus," said Maxim, explaining that the intestinal tract becomes squished as the baby grows, causing slow transit of bowel contents through the intestines.
Along with iron supplements, progesterone also plays a part in constipation. Progesterone relaxes your muscles, which slows down the digestive tract, causing bloating and difficulty having a bowel movement.
Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Many women experience hemorrhoids while carrying a baby. If you have bloody stool or pain while pooping, hemorrhoids may be the cause.
Hemorrhoids in pregnancy are caused by increased blood flow, along with the fact that your growing uterus puts pressure on your pelvic floor. Constipation can also cause or aggravate hemorrhoids due to straining when having a hard bowel movement.
Frequent Bowel Movements in Pregnancy
A few women poop a lot during pregnancy or experience loose stools. This might be related to anxiety or an increased appetite. However, check with your doctor, especially if you have frequent bowel movements later in pregnancy. You will want to rule out any possible infection, whether it's the coronavirus or something else.
Is Pooping a Lot a Sign of Pregnancy?
The idea that frequent bowel movements could indicate pregnancy is actually just a myth. Early pregnancy is more likely associated with morning sickness and constipation. However, you might still be pregnant, so test after a missed period if you want to be sure.
How to Ease Constipation While Pregnant
To help combat constipation (and the possible resulting hemorrhoids), increase your fiber intake, consume whole grains, and drink at least eight to twelve cups of fluids per day. In addition, make sure you're eating a healthy, balanced diet packed with vitamins and minerals to keep your digestive tract moving.
According to Maxim, one of the best ways to avoid constipation is magnesium citrate or bisglycinate taken every day. This can also help prevent preeclampsia. Talk with your doctor to get you started on a good magnesium supplement, along with your prenatal vitamins.
Never take laxatives or stool softeners without first speaking with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe stool softeners that are safe during pregnancy. Gentle exercise can also help bowel movements along.
How to Deal With Hemorrhoids While Pregnant
To help relieve discomfort caused by hemorrhoids during pregnancy, apply a cold compress saturated with witch hazel to the affected area several times a day. You can also soak your bottom in a tub of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes a few times each day. If you don't have a bathtub, you can use a sitz bath (available on Amazon). Sometimes, alternating between cold and warm treatments is extra soothing. Keep the area clean after each bowel movement.
If constipation, diarrhea, or hemorrhoids continue despite appropriate treatment, it's time to see your doctor.
The Postpartum Poop
Most women know that labor is going to hurt, but many are not warned about that first bowel movement postpartum. Throughout pregnancy, progesterone and iron supplements make constipation a persistent issue, but during labor while your cervix dilated, the bowel and rectum may be stretched and squashed, making pooping afterwards difficult and causing pain and cramping. Postpartum painkillers may exacerbate this issue further, so you'll likely be prescribed stool softeners.
Want to learn more about your pregnancy and how your baby is growing and changing each day? Check out our Pregnancy Day-by-Day Tracker.