Bowel Movements During Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on October 17, 2012

Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause changes in the bowel movements. The high progesterone levels in the body cause sluggishness of bowel movements during pregnancy. These muscles which normally would move food quickly through the digestive tract tend to slow down. Due to this, indigestion, heartburn and formation of gas start making the new-mom feel uneasy. Gas thus formed makes the pregnant mother feel bloated and this in turn affects appetite.

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The best way to minimize the discomfort caused by a sluggish digestive system is to eat five to six small meals through the day, instead of the regular three large servings. Fried and spicy foods, cabbage, beans, sugar rich foods and caffeine must be avoided as they aggravate the problem. Eating slowly, without any stress is also helpful in minimizing digestion related problems.


Other reasons that cause change in the bowel movements are:

  • Prenatal vitamins and a change in diet can result in lots of bowel movements during pregnancy.
  • Large bowel movements during pregnancy could also be caused by a regular exercise schedule that helps to metabolize food better and clear out the digestive system.
  • In addition to the hormonal changes, as the uterus expands and the baby becomes heavier, pressure is exerted on the intestines as well as the rectum. This further influences bowel movement and sometimes the mother can even feel constipated and discomforted.
  • Hard bowel movements during pregnancy are also caused by the iron supplements. These supplements are also responsible for blackish or dark bowel movements during pregnancy.
  • Food consumed also has the ability to influence the color of the stools. Some women experience green bowel movements during pregnancy. Consult the doctor about change in color of stools, as dark colored stools could also be indicative of bleeding in the digestive tract or changes in the bile produced by the liver.

Since the sluggish digestive system affects the proper digestion of food, smelly bowel movements during pregnancy are common. The hormonal changes and prenatal vitamins also influence the odor of the stools. Diarrhea is another problem faced during pregnancy. Pregnancy weakens the immune system. As a result of this, infections become common during pregnancy and this causes loose bowel movements. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and consuming plenty of green leafy vegetables, salads, fruits, nuts, whole grain cereals and other foods that provide roughage are recommended for improving bowel movement during pregnancy.

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