Meal Plan for Constipation Relief During Pregnancy

RachelMS, RD, LDN, CSSD, CBS

During pregnancy, hormonal changes, decreased physical activity, certain medications and vitamin supplements, and your growing uterus may all contribute to constipation.1,2 While feeling backed-up and bloated can be quite uncomfortable, there are ways to help manage this common pregnancy symptom.

Ensuring you consume enough fiber and fluid can help prevent constipation, and probiotics found in some food may help too.

Read about: 6 Tips to Help Manage Prenatal and Postpartum Constipation

Focus on high fiber foods for constipation relief

There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber adds bulk to your stool while insoluble fiber promotes the movement of stool through your digestive tract.3 Both types of fiber, which are found primarily in plant foods, help keep you regular.

  • Foods rich in soluble fiber: Oats, beans, lentils, barley; some fruits such as apples and blueberries; some vegetables, as well as psyllium.4,5

  • Foods rich in insoluble fiber: Wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, beans, and vegetables like cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.4,6

Did You Know? Prunes have helped many people with constipation, but it’s not only from fiber! This fruit (a dried plum) has a high sorbitol content, a sugar alcohol that pulls fluids into the colon and aids with the passage of stool.12 Try 3 to 4 prunes per day to see if they help you.

Learn more: Why Does Fiber Matter for Babies, Tots, and Mama?

Some probiotic-rich foods may help manage constipation

Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria that can help promote health when consumed regularly and in the right amounts.7 These beneficial microorganisms are sometimes naturally occurring, such as when a food is fermented. Other times, probiotics are added to a food.

Foods rich in probiotics include: Certain yogurts, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread, and some cheeses.

While more research is needed, current studies are demonstrating promising results when it comes to probiotics and the management of constipation.8,9

How much fluid do you need to drink while pregnant?

Not only do you need extra fluids to support your growing blood volume and amniotic fluid, but drinking enough will also help in your quest for regular digestion.10,11

The goal during pregnancy is 8 to 12 (8 oz) cups of fluids each day.11

And the good news is that eating plenty of produce will not only help boost your fiber intake, but it will also help meet your fluid need as these foods tend to have a high water content.

Read more: Tips for Staying Hydrated While Pregnant or Breastfeeding

Pro Tip:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, 5 days per week, during pregnancy.13 As long as your doctor has cleared you to engage in exercise, continuing to be active throughout each trimester may help not only prepare you for birth, but also help prevent and manage constipation.

Meal and recipe ideas for constipation relief during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Choosing meals and snacks from the below listed options will help you consume foods that will increase your fiber and fluid intake while maintaining a balanced diet. Add in some of the probiotic foods to your meals and snacks for an extra boost in your digestion!

Breakfast

  • Option 1: Strawberry banana smoothie with baby spinach and low fat plain Greek yogurt with active live cultures, or a plant-based yogurt or milk alternative

  • Option 2: Low-fat plain yogurt containing active cultures with high fiber cereal, berries, and ground flax seeds

  • Option 3: Mixed fruit salad with unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped almonds, and chia seeds

  • Option 4: Scrambled eggs with 1 cup vegetables (leftovers from dinner or fresh cut), side of banana or other fruit, and high fiber whole grain toast

  • Option 5: Chia pudding with berries, chopped nuts, and coconutmilk

Lunch

  • Option 1: Lentil salad over a bed of leafy greens

  • Option 2: Black bean soup and leafy green salad with baked chicken

  • Option 3: High fiber whole grain bread with banana and nut butter, side of cut vegetables

  • Option 4: Salmon salad on high fiber whole grain bread with baby spinach, side of hummus and vegetables

  • Option 5: High fiber whole grain wrap, filled with scrambled eggs and chopped vegetables; sliced apple on the side

Dinner

  • Option 1: Grilled tofu over sautéed greens with roasted potatoes       

  • Option 2: Three bean vegetarian chili, side salad

  • Option 3: Baked chicken, farro, and roasted cauliflower

  • Option 4: Baked white fish, green beans with slivered almonds, roasted sweet potato

  • Option 5: Bean tacos with corn tortillas, black beans, chopped tomatoes, sliced peppers, salsa

Snacks

  • Option 1: Cut up veggie sticks and hummus        

  • Option 2: Dried fruit like prunes and mixed nuts

  • Option 3: Bean Salad: Garbanzo beans, chopped carrots, chopped bell pepper, salt, pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar or balsamic

  • Option 4: Kefir (cultured milk) blended with fruit and chia seeds

  • Option 5: Black bean dip with corn tortilla chips

Let's Chat!

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Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET).

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Exercises during pregnancy

Optimal exercises to prepare for delivery

Which Nutrients do I Need During Pregnancy?

Our meal plans offer recipe and meal suggestions. They are not designed to replace your doctor’s recommendations, nor do they take into account special nutritional needs, including allergies and intolerances. The meal plans suggest serving sizes that may or may not be appropriate for you. Please consult your doctor to determine what is best for you and your child.

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