medications, pregnancy safety, pregnancy constipation, bowel movements

Generic Name: Stool-Softening Laxatives
Indications: Temporary relief of constipation.
FDA Drug Category: Not Categorized

Stool-softening laxatives are used to treat occasional constipation. They do not stimulate the muscles of the bowel, so the effect takes longer than that of a stimulant laxative, but there are fewer side effects.

The two most common stool-softening laxatives are Colace and docusate calcium. These laxatives work by pulling water and fat into stool to lubricate movement out of the body.

General Precautions

Laxatives should be used for no more than three days under the supervision of your obstetrician. If you’ve not managed a bowel movement in that time, or if bowel movements are hard to pass, contain blood or appear black or extremely dark, contact your physician. Only use stool-softening laxatives approved by your doctor or midwife for use during pregnancy.

Effect While Trying to Conceive

There are no known side effects of using stool-softening laxatives on male or female fertility. Before taking a laxative of any kind during fertility treatments, ask your fertility doctor about possible drug interactions or contraindications.

Effects on Pregnancy

Pregnancy constipation is very common. Colace or similar generic brand stool-softening laxative is one of the more common over-the-counter medications for pregnant women. There is no effect on the fetus as the laxative is not absorbed by the body.

Before taking a laxative of any kind, increase water and fiber intake. Eat fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, daily to naturally improve bowel movements. Exercise can also help relieve constipation without medical intervention.

If the stool-softening laxative does not work within three days, contact your obstetrician. An impacted bowel can cause harm to the mother and fetus and needs to be addressed medically as stool-softening laxatives may not relieve the condition.

Safe During Breastfeeding

There is no indication that stool-softening laxatives have a negative impact on the breastfeeding infant. However, taking a laxative can lead to diarrhea or loose bowels, which can eventually, with prolonged use cause dehydration and reduced milk production. While taking a laxative increase water intake to replace any water lost during increased bowel movements.

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