Q: Is it safe to take medication for constipation during pregnancy?
A: Not going to the bathroom as often these days? That's very common during pregnancy, as your surging hormones are putting the brakes on digestion. Plus, your growing baby is taking up more and more room in your belly, which can also slow down your digestive tract. But there's plenty you can do to feel more comfortable and get things moving along. While some medications are definitely safe to treat constipation during pregnancy, it's always best to see if any of these lifestyle tweaks help first. Start by making sure to drink plenty of water (at least six to eight glasses a day) and eating plenty of high-fiber foods, like veggies, whole-grain bread, cereal, and pasta, as well as fruits like prunes, peaches, pears, and plums, which help boost digestion. Light exercise, like a brisk walk after lunch or dinner, has also been shown to help relieve constipation symptoms. If none of these helps, your doctor may suggest trying a fiber-based laxative powder like Metamucil, Fiberall, or Citrucel, which dissolve into a glass of water. These remedies are safe for pregnant women since they ease constipation gently over several days by helping your intestines absorb more liquid. However you should avoid any laxatives, like castor oil, that work quickly by jump-starting the movement of your bowels (these are usually labeled stimulant laxatives), since they can also trigger contractions. You shouldn't take a laxative during pregnancy without your doctor's approval. The iron in your prenatal vitamin or extra iron supplements you may be taking for anemia might also be part of your constipation problem, but you shouldn't stop taking them without talking to your doctor first. Your doctor may recommend switching to a prenatal vitamin with DHA, which is a nutrient that also acts as a natural stool softener. If the culprit is your iron supplements, then ask your doctor about switching to a slow-release formula, which can give your body more time to process all the extra iron.