Is pregnancy constipation dangerous for the baby?

I am nine and a half weeks pregnant with my first child and have experienced one prior miscarriage. I have one of those embarrassing questions seem easier to ask electronically rather than face-to-face. I have been constipated and often find myself straining when going to the bathroom. Is this dangerous for the baby?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

I've been midwifing so long now that I think no question is embarrassing, but I agree, electronic questions are sometimes easier to ask.

Women, especially those who have suffered pregnancy losses in the past, often feel hesitant at straining and may actually cause themselves to become constipated.

Straining will not cause a miscarriage that was not meant to happen. I once had a client who swore she miscarried due to a particularly strenuous bowel movement. She experienced passage of tissue and bleeding immediately following the movement. Although these occurrences may seem related, the tissue and blood were undoubtedly sitting in the cervix, and she dislodged them with muscular contractions and bearing down. But she did not cause the miscarriage.

The purpose of the large intestine is to absorb water, so any waste products that sit there for any length of time become increasingly dry and much more difficult to pass. It is important to "answer the call" when it first occurs; don't wait until one more letter is typed or one more client is seen.

Pregnancy is a state of water conservation, too; and the intake of fluids needs to about double. Take a very large water bottle with you everywhere you go and drink from it constantly. You should take in about half a gallon of fluids daily. However, coffee and tea can be diuretics, and you may lose water with these products, so don't count them as "fluids."

One tip I recommend is to lubricate the sphincter with a lubricant -- water-soluble gel, hemorrhoid cream, lanolin, etc. -- before a dry stool. This makes the whole process easier.

Try not to worry; just ingest LOTS of fluids and lots of roughage -- whole grains, dried fruits, bran, etc.

I wish you a comfortable and happy pregnancy.

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