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Pregnancy constipation: Are stool softeners safe?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-constipation/AN01103
- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
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Pregnancy constipation: Are stool softeners safe?
Is it safe to take stool softeners to treat pregnancy constipation?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Stool softeners are generally considered safe during pregnancy.
Pregnancy constipation can be stubborn and seriously uncomfortable. Stool softeners, such as Colace, moisten the stool and make it easier to pass. The active ingredients in these products aren't absorbed by the body, so they're unlikely to have an adverse effect on a developing baby. Check with your health care provider, however, before taking any medication — including stool softeners and other types of laxatives — to treat pregnancy constipation.
Also, remember that pregnancy constipation can often be prevented with lifestyle changes. For example:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Water is a good choice. Fruit juice — especially prune juice — also can help.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Daily walks and other aerobic activities can help prevent pregnancy constipation.
- Include more fiber in your diet. Choose high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. With your health care provider's OK, consider a fiber supplement, such as Metamucil.
If you take iron supplements, mention the constipation to your health care provider. Although iron is an important nutrient during pregnancy, too much iron can contribute to pregnancy constipation.
If you haven't had a bowel movement in three days, ask your health care provider for a recommendation. If your health care provider approves stool softeners or other types of laxatives, be careful to use them as directed.Next question
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- Constipation. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation. Accessed April 22, 2011.
- Problems of the digestive system. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp120.cfm. Accessed April 22, 2011.
- You and your baby: Prenatal care, labor and delivery and postpartum care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/ab005.cfm. Accessed April 22, 2011.
- Bianco A. Maternal gastrointestinal tract adaptation to pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 22, 2011.
- Iron. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://naturaldatabase.com. Accessed April 22, 2011.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 22, 2011.