Question Many of my patients experience constipation during pregnancy, even after increasing dietary fibre and fluids. Are there any safe treatments I can recommend to them?
Answer Although the recommended first-line therapy for constipation includes increasing fibre, fluids, and exercise, these are sometimes ineffective. Therefore, laxatives such as bulk-forming agents, lubricant laxatives, stool softeners, osmotic laxatives, and stimulant laxatives might be considered. Although few of the various types of laxatives have been assessed for safety in pregnancy, they have minimal systemic absorption. Therefore, they are not expected to be associated with an increased risk of congenital anomalies. However, it is recommended that osmotic and stimulant laxatives be used only in the short term or occasionally to avoid dehydration or electrolyte imbalances in pregnant women.