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Over 40% of pregnant women will experience constipation at some point during their pregnancy. For some women this will be a brief few days of discomfort but for others, it can be an ongoing problem lasting many weeks.

One of the main reasons for constipation during pregnancy is because of the hormonal changes that take place in a pregnant woman's body. The production of a number of hormones is significantly increased to cope with the nine months of pregnancy. But many of these increases can slow down intestinal movements inside the body. Progesterone in particular can increase the likelihood of constipation developing as it relaxes the muscle walls of the bowel, thereby reducing its efficiency at passing stools.

However, constipation during pregnancy can also occur because of the increased need for both fluids and nutrients. It's very easy to become dehydrated or fail to consume enough fibre when pregnant. Even a minor lack of fibre or insufficient fluid can be enough to give rise to bowel problems.

The symptoms of constipation in pregnant women are basically the same as those in everybody else. Common symptoms include going more than four days before moving your bowels, difficulty in actually trying to pass stools, and a feeling of not being finished when tying to pass stools. In some cases, you may also experience a little bleeding for the rectum, as well as mild to moderate lower abdominal pain.

Fortunately, constipation during pregnancy and be easily addressed. Eating more fibre and drinking more liquid is often all it takes to get your bowels moving again. A little light exercise, such as a half hour walk, can also work wonders.

In some cases, a laxative may be needed to relieve a bowel problem. Several types of laxatives are safe for pregnant women as they are not absorbed by the digestive system, and therefore your baby will not feel their effects. However, it's always best to seek the advice of your local GP before taking any medication whilst pregnant. Indeed, you doctor may be able to prescribe a laxative that will work more effectively than those you can buy over the counter.

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