Smooth Sailing: Best Laxatives for Pregnant Women July, 2024

Beat Constipation with Ease!

Written by Katy Girone | Published: 1 July 2024
We independently review each recommended product/service. Purchases through our links may earn us a commission.

Embarking on the remarkable journey of pregnancy brings a multitude of changes, from adorable baby kicks to late-night cravings for pickles and ice cream. And let’s not forget the ever-entertaining topic of constipation. Yes, we’re diving right into it – or should we say, “diving right in, but perhaps not so smoothly.” Constipation, that unwelcome visitor, has a tendency to crash the pregnancy party unannounced. But fear not, because we’re about to unravel the mystery behind why it happens and, more importantly, how to bid it a not-so-fond farewell.

Blame it on those hormones, those diligent multitaskers that trigger various changes in your body. They’re the ones responsible for slowing down your digestive system, resulting in that not-so-glamorous feeling of being “backed up.” The expanding uterus plays its part too, adding pressure on your intestines like a guest who overstays their welcome.

Now, enter the heroes of our story – laxatives. These are like the cavalry riding in to save the day when your digestive system seems to have forgotten its job description. Laxatives come in various forms, each with its unique approach to helping you regain your digestive mojo. From gentle stool softeners to more assertive options, these magical aids can make your bathroom rendezvous a whole lot more enjoyable.

Buying Guide

  • Types of Laxatives: Laxatives come in different forms, including stool softeners, bulk-forming agents, osmotic laxatives, and stimulants. Understand the differences and consult your healthcare provider to determine the best fit for your needs.

  • Safety First: Your safety and the well-being of your baby are paramount. Always consult your healthcare provider before introducing any laxative into your routine. They’ll ensure it’s compatible with your health and pregnancy stage.

  • Gentle Approach: Pregnancy is a delicate journey, and your choice of laxative should match. Opt for options that offer gentle relief without causing abrupt urgency or cramping.

  • Ingredients Check: Investigate the ingredients list to avoid any allergens or components that might not agree with your system.

  • Individual Needs: No two pregnancies are alike. Consider your unique sensitivities, preferences, and health conditions when selecting a laxative.

Product Overview

MiraLAX

MiraLAX is a widely recognized over-the-counter laxative that contains the active ingredient polyethylene glycol 3350 (PEG 3350). It’s commonly used to relieve occasional constipation by promoting bowel movements. Here’s a comprehensive overview of MiraLAX, its main ingredients, and how it works:

Main Ingredient:

  • Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (PEG 3350): This is the active ingredient in MiraLAX. PEG 3350 is a water-soluble compound that is not absorbed by the body. It works as an osmotic laxative, which means it draws water into the intestines to soften the stool and facilitate bowel movements.

 

How MiraLAX Works:

  • MiraLAX works by increasing the water content in the intestines, which softens the stool and stimulates bowel movements. It accomplishes this through an osmotic action. The PEG 3350 molecules are too large to be absorbed by the intestinal lining and thus remain in the gastrointestinal tract, creating an osmotic gradient.
  • This osmotic gradient causes water to be drawn into the intestines, making the stool softer and easier to pass. As the stool becomes more liquid, it stimulates peristalsis (the muscular contractions of the intestines), ultimately leading to a bowel movement.
  • Unlike stimulant laxatives that can cause contractions in the intestines, MiraLAX works gently by creating a more favorable environment for natural bowel movement.
KEY FEATURES:
  • MiraLAX is an over-the-counter laxative commonly used to relieve occasional constipation.
  • The active ingredient in MiraLAX is polyethylene glycol 3350 (PEG 3350), which works as an osmotic laxative.
  • It draws water into the intestines, softening the stool and promoting bowel movements.
  • MiraLAX is available as a tasteless, odorless powder that can be dissolved in liquids.

Gentle Action: MiraLAX works gently by increasing water content in the intestines, which can be preferable for those looking for a less aggressive solution.

Effective: It’s effective for relieving occasional constipation and promoting regular bowel movements.

Minimal Dependency: When used as directed, MiraLAX typically doesn’t lead to dependency or affect the body’s natural bowel function.

Non-Irritating: It’s generally well-tolerated and considered non-irritating to the intestines.

Time to Effect: MiraLAX may take one to three days to produce results, which might not provide immediate relief for those seeking quick relief.

People also read

Colace

Colace is a brand name for a stool softener medication that is commonly used to relieve constipation. The active ingredient in Colace is docusate sodium. Here’s everything you need to know about Colace, its main ingredients, and how it works as a laxative:

Main Ingredients:

  • Docusate Sodium: This is the active ingredient in Colace. Docusate sodium is a stool softener that works by increasing the water content in the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. It does not stimulate the intestines or cause bowel movements directly; rather, it makes the stool more comfortable to pass through the intestines.

 

How Colace Works:

  • Colace works by facilitating the mixing of water and fat into the stool, which results in a softer consistency. This helps prevent dry and hard stools that can lead to constipation and discomfort. The mechanism of action involves the docusate sodium molecules reducing the surface tension of the stool, allowing water and fat to penetrate the stool and soften it. Results may be observed within 12 to 72 hours after taking the medication.

 

Benefits:

  • Colace is often used to alleviate temporary constipation, particularly when the stool is hard and difficult to pass. It can be particularly useful in situations where straining during bowel movements is undesirable, such as after surgery or during pregnancy.
KEY FEATURES:
  • Stool Softening Action: Colace contains docusate sodium, a surfactant laxative that works by increasing the water content in the stool. This softens the stool and makes it easier to pass, providing relief from discomfort associated with constipation.
  • Gentle Approach: Colace’s mechanism of action involves allowing water to mix with the stool rather than directly stimulating the intestines. This makes it a gentler option for individuals seeking relief from occasional constipation without the urgency of some other laxatives.
  • Variety of Forms: Colace is available in various formulations, including oral capsules, liquid, and stool softener tablets. This variety allows users to choose a formulation that best suits their preferences and needs.
  • Suitable for Different Situations: Colace is commonly recommended for short-term use in various situations, such as post-surgery recovery, pregnancy, or changes in diet. It provides a way to alleviate constipation and related discomfort during these times.

Gentle Action: Colace works by softening the stool, making it easier to pass without directly stimulating the intestines, which can be helpful for individuals looking for a gentler approach to relieving constipation.

Suitable for Various Situations: It can be used by individuals with different needs, such as pregnant women, post-surgery patients, and those needing temporary relief from constipation.

No Dependency: When used as directed and for short-term relief, Colace is less likely to cause dependency compared to stimulant laxatives.

Not for Severe Constipation: While effective for occasional constipation and for making stools softer, Colace might not be suitable for severe or chronic constipation cases.

Prunelax

Prunelax is a brand of laxative products that is primarily known for its use of prunes and prune extract to provide relief from occasional constipation. Prunes are dried plums that are naturally high in dietary fiber and contain sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol that can have a mild laxative effect. Prunelax products are designed to help alleviate constipation and promote bowel regularity in a gentle and natural manner. Generally designed to provide relief from occasional constipation within a timeframe of 12 to 72 hours, depending on the individual’s response. 

Main Ingredients of Prunelax: The main active ingredient in Prunelax products is typically prune extract or dried prune powder. Prunes are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help add bulk to stool and promote movement through the digestive tract. Additionally, the sorbitol content in prunes contributes to their laxative effect by drawing water into the intestines and softening the stool.

How Prunelax Works as a Laxative: Prunelax products work through a combination of fiber and sorbitol. Here’s how it generally works:

  1. Increasing Bulk: The fiber content in prunes adds bulk to the stool, which can stimulate the muscles of the intestines and encourage movement.

  2. Softening Stools: The sorbitol in prunes has a natural osmotic effect, meaning it draws water into the intestines. This softens the stool, making it easier to pass.

  3. Stimulating Bowel Movements: The combination of increased bulk and softened stool can stimulate the muscles of the intestines, promoting bowel movements.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Dietary Fiber Source: Prunes are rich in dietary fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fibers, which can aid in promoting regular bowel movements.

  • Sorbitol Content: Prunes contain sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol with a mild osmotic laxative effect that helps draw water into the intestines, softening stools.

  • Gentle Laxative Effect: Prunelax products provide a relatively gentle and gradual laxative effect, making them suitable for occasional constipation relief.

  • Bulk and Softening: Prunelax works by increasing the bulk of stool and softening it, which stimulates the natural movement of the intestines and encourages bowel movements.

Natural Source: Prunelax relies on prunes, a natural source of fiber and sorbitol, making it a gentle and natural option for relieving constipation.

Fiber-Rich: Prunes are rich in dietary fiber, which can promote regular bowel movements and improve overall digestive health.

Mild Laxative Effect: Prunelax provides a relatively mild and gradual laxative effect, reducing the risk of sudden urgency or discomfort.

Taste and Texture: Some people may find the taste or texture of prunes or prune-based products less appealing.

Senokot

Senokot is a brand of over-the-counter laxatives that contain senna as the main active ingredient. Senna is a natural plant-based laxative that has been used for centuries to relieve constipation. Here’s everything you need to know about Senokot, its main ingredients, and how it works as a laxative:

Active Ingredient: The active ingredient in Senokot products is senna. Senna is derived from the leaves and pods of the Senna alexandrina plant. The primary compounds responsible for its laxative effects are known as sennosides.

Mechanism of Action: Senna works as a stimulant laxative. It contains compounds called anthraquinones, particularly sennosides A and B, which stimulate the muscles of the intestines. This stimulation increases the contractions of the intestines, leading to enhanced movement of stool through the colon. As a result, bowel movements become more frequent and easier to pass.

Stimulating Bowel Movements: The combination of increased bulk and softened stool can stimulate the muscles of the intestines, promoting bowel movements.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Natural Stimulant Laxative: Senokot is a brand of laxatives that contains senna, a natural plant-based ingredient that acts as a stimulant laxative. Senna has been traditionally used for its laxative properties.
  • Relieves Occasional Constipation: Senokot is designed to provide temporary relief from occasional constipation. It helps stimulate bowel movements and alleviate the discomfort associated with constipation.
  • Sennosides as Active Compounds: The active compounds in senna, known as sennosides, work by stimulating the muscles in the intestines. This stimulation enhances the movement of stool through the colon, promoting more frequent bowel movements.
  • Fast Onset of Action: Senokot is known for its relatively fast onset of action. Bowel movements can occur within 6 to 12 hours after taking a dose, making it suitable for prompt relief.

Effective Relief: Senokot can provide effective and relatively fast relief from occasional constipation by stimulating bowel movements.

Available Over-the-Counter: Senokot is available without a prescription, making it accessible for individuals seeking short-term relief from constipation.

Natural Ingredients: Senokot’s active ingredient, senna, is derived from a natural plant source, which may be appealing to those who prefer natural remedies.

Variety of Formulations: Senokot comes in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, and syrups, allowing users to choose the option that suits their preferences.

Not Suitable for Long-Term Use: Senokot is intended for short-term use. Extended or frequent use can lead to imbalances in electrolytes and natural bowel function.

Metamucil

Metamucil is a popular dietary supplement that contains psyllium husk as its main active ingredient. Psyllium husk is a natural source of soluble fiber derived from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant. Metamucil is primarily known for its ability to promote digestive health by increasing fiber intake, supporting regular bowel movements, and alleviating constipation. Here’s everything you need to know about Metamucil:

Main Ingredients: The main active ingredient in Metamucil is psyllium husk, which is a soluble fiber. The psyllium husk is derived from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant and is rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Metamucil products may also contain other ingredients such as flavorings, sweeteners, and colorants to enhance taste and palatability.

How It Works as a Laxative: Metamucil works as a bulk-forming laxative due to its high soluble fiber content. When taken with water, psyllium husk forms a gel-like substance in the intestines. This gel adds bulk to the stool, absorbs excess water, and softens the stool, making it easier to pass. The increased bulk and softened stool stimulate the natural contractions of the intestines, promoting regular bowel movements.

The process of bulking up the stool and promoting bowel movements helps relieve constipation and supports overall digestive health. Metamucil can also help regulate irregular bowel patterns by providing consistent fiber intake.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Psyllium Husk: The main active ingredient in Metamucil is psyllium husk, a natural source of soluble fiber derived from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant.

  • Soluble Fiber: Psyllium husk is rich in soluble fiber, which forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water. This gel adds bulk to stools, softens them, and promotes regular bowel movements.

  • Bulk-Forming Laxative: Metamucil is classified as a bulk-forming laxative. It works by increasing the bulk of the stool and stimulating the intestines to move, alleviating constipation.

  • Digestive Health: Metamucil is known for its ability to support digestive health by increasing fiber intake, improving regularity, and preventing or relieving constipation.

  • Fiber Intake: Metamucil helps individuals, including those with low-fiber diets, meet their recommended daily fiber intake.

Effective Laxative: Metamucil is effective in relieving constipation and promoting regular bowel movements due to its bulk-forming action.

Natural Source of Fiber: Metamucil’s main ingredient, psyllium husk, is a natural source of soluble fiber derived from plants.

Improved Digestive Health: Regular use of Metamucil can support overall digestive health by increasing dietary fiber intake.

Weight Management: Metamucil can contribute to weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness and reducing overeating.

Hydration Requirement: Adequate water intake is crucial when using Metamucil to prevent choking or blockages, as the fiber absorbs water.

Phillips' Milk of Magnesia

Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia, also known simply as Milk of Magnesia, is an over-the-counter laxative and antacid commonly used to relieve constipation, indigestion, and heartburn. It contains the active ingredient magnesium hydroxide, which has both laxative and antacid properties. Here’s everything you need to know about Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia:

Main Ingredients:

  • Magnesium Hydroxide: This is the active ingredient in Milk of Magnesia. It is a white, inorganic compound that has both laxative and antacid effects. When ingested, magnesium hydroxide works as an osmotic laxative by drawing water into the intestines and softening the stool, making it easier to pass.

 

How It Works as a Laxative:

  1. Osmotic Action: Magnesium hydroxide functions as an osmotic laxative. When taken orally, it remains mostly undissolved until it reaches the intestines. There, it draws water from surrounding tissues and fluids into the intestines, increasing the water content in the stool. This softens the stool and adds bulk, stimulating bowel movements.

  2. Stimulating Bowel Motility: Magnesium ions from magnesium hydroxide can also stimulate the muscles of the intestines, increasing peristalsis (the rhythmic contractions that propel stool through the intestines). This effect helps move the softened stool along the digestive tract and promotes regular bowel movements.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Active Ingredient: The main active ingredient in Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia is magnesium hydroxide.
  • Osmotic Laxative: It works as an osmotic laxative by drawing water into the intestines, softening stools and promoting bowel movements.
  • Antacid Properties: Milk of Magnesia can also act as an antacid to neutralize excess stomach acid, providing relief from indigestion and heartburn.
  • Liquid Form: It is available in liquid form for oral administration.

Effective Laxative: Milk of Magnesia is generally effective in relieving constipation by softening stools and promoting regular bowel movements.

Quick Relief: Its osmotic action can provide relatively quick relief from constipation.

Antacid Relief: It offers relief from indigestion and heartburn by neutralizing excess stomach acid.

Widely Available: Milk of Magnesia is widely available in most pharmacies and stores.

Generally Safe: When used as directed, it’s generally safe for short-term use.

Electrolyte Imbalances: Prolonged or excessive use can result in electrolyte imbalances, especially in individuals with kidney problems.

Konsyl

Konsyl is a brand that offers dietary fiber supplements, primarily featuring psyllium husk as its main ingredient. Psyllium husk is a natural source of soluble fiber derived from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant. Konsyl products are designed to provide a convenient way to increase daily fiber intake, promote regular bowel movements, and support overall digestive health.

Main Ingredients: The main ingredient in Konsyl products is psyllium husk, which contains a high concentration of soluble fiber. This soluble fiber has the ability to absorb water and form a gel-like substance in the intestines. This gel-like consistency softens the stool, adds bulk, and helps move waste through the digestive tract more efficiently.

How Konsyl Works as a Laxative: Konsyl products work as bulk-forming laxatives due to the high content of psyllium husk. Here’s how the process generally works:

  1. Water Absorption: When psyllium husk comes into contact with water, it swells and forms a gel-like substance. This property is essential for its laxative effect.

  2. Softening Stools: The gel-like substance formed by psyllium husk softens the stool by increasing its water content. This makes the stool easier to pass and reduces the discomfort associated with constipation.

  3. Increasing Bulk: The expansion of the gel adds bulk to the stool, which stimulates the intestines and promotes regular bowel movements.

  4. Promoting Regularity: By softening stools and adding bulk, Konsyl products help encourage the natural peristaltic movement of the intestines. This promotes regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.

KEY FEATURES:
  • Psyllium Husk: The main ingredient in Konsyl products is psyllium husk, a natural source of soluble fiber known for its ability to promote regular bowel movements and improve digestive health.

  • Dietary Fiber Supplement: Konsyl products are designed to supplement dietary fiber intake. They provide an easy and convenient way to increase daily fiber consumption, which is important for overall digestive health.

  • Bulk-Forming Laxative: Psyllium husk functions as a bulk-forming laxative, helping to soften stools, add bulk, and support regular bowel movements.

Promotes Regularity: Konsyl products, due to their high fiber content, can help alleviate constipation and promote regular bowel movements by softening stools and adding bulk.

Natural Source of Fiber: Psyllium husk is a natural source of fiber derived from plant seeds. It offers a more natural and gentle approach to relieving constipation compared to some other types of laxatives.

Improves Digestive Health: Increasing dietary fiber intake with Konsyl products can contribute to improved digestive health, potentially reducing the risk of certain gastrointestinal issues and providing a feeling of fullness.

Requires Adequate Hydration: To maximize the benefits of psyllium husk, it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Insufficient hydration could lead to discomfort or potentially exacerbate constipation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, finding the most suitable laxatives for pregnancy involves careful consideration of both effectiveness and safety. Expectant mothers should prioritize natural methods like a high-fiber diet, hydration, and regular physical activity to manage constipation.

When considering laxatives, consulting a healthcare provider is essential to ensure that the chosen option aligns with individual medical history, pregnancy stage, and any potential risks. While some laxatives, like bulk-forming and stool-softening options, are generally considered safer choices, it’s crucial to use them under professional guidance and adhere to recommended dosages.

FAQ

While some laxatives can be safe for pregnant women, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider before using any laxative products. They can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and needs.

Hormonal changes, increased progesterone levels, and the pressure of the growing uterus on the intestines can contribute to constipation during pregnancy.

  1. Yes, natural remedies like prunes, fiber-rich foods, and increased water intake can be safe and effective ways to manage constipation during pregnancy. However, moderation and a balanced approach are key.

  1. Bulk-forming laxatives and stool softeners are often considered safer options for pregnant women. These work by adding moisture to the stool and increasing its bulk, making it easier to pass.

It’s a good idea to first try natural methods like dietary changes, hydration, and regular exercise to alleviate constipation. If these methods aren’t effective, consult your healthcare provider before using laxatives.