Summary: Milk of Magnesia is safe to take during pregnancy. However, it may not be the best first option. Diet and food selection plays a crucial role in constipation during pregnancy. Also, a stool softener like Colace, which does take longer to work, but generally doesn’t cause intestinal cramping that can be confused with labor pains may be a better first choice.
Dear Curtis: This is my first pregnancy and I’m starting to get some constipation. Normally I’m very regular and I know constipation can be a side effect of pregnancy. I think I really need to take something but I’m worried about what I can and can’t take. How about Milk of Magnesia?
The short answer is – yes, with your doctor’s permission – it is safe during pregnancy. In fact, Milk of Magnesia has an “A” pregnancy rating which means enough studies have been done in pregnant women to show no increased risk of fetal abnormalities during any of the trimesters of pregnancy.
But, that doesn’t mean Milk of Magnesia is the ‘best’ choice during pregnancy.
A Big Cause of Constipation During Pregnancy
Now, before you start rolling your eyes because I’m a guy, please know that what I’m about to tell you worked well for my wife as well as other pregnant women.
When constipation rears it’s ugly head the root cause of the problem is often times the foods you eat. Yes, I know you have cravings and it’s easy to cave into those but if they include fast food and sweets then you are eventually going to have issues going to the bathroom.
Also, please note I’m not talking about downing more fiber here. In my opinion and experience, that may even be counterproductive.
So, the first step in correcting your constipation issues is to eat a completely natural diet void of any processed foods (that includes breads and grains). Focus on meats, seafood, plenty of vegetables and fruits. Nuts are OK to. Not only does this help your constipation but it has the added benefit of giving you and your baby more nutrients that you both need to stay healthy.
Stool Softener First?
Now, onto immediate treatment options.
While Milk of Magnesia certainly works and it is safe during pregnancy a lot of providers opt to go with something a little more ‘gentle’ like a stool softener (Colace for instance).
Please note, while Colace takes longer to work it also generally avoids the dreaded cramping that you can see with products like Milk of Magnesia. Of course, when you are pregnant the last thing you want to be experiencing is any sort of intestinal cramping because it can be confused with labor pains. Not good for you and not good for you doctor who has to be called in at 3 AM because you are constipated – not in labor.
This is the main reason why other over-the-counter constipation treatments aren’t OK for pregnant women to take. They’re just too harsh on your system and too dangerous to use during pregnancy.
In conclusion, always run it by your doctor first but I would venture to guess that he would be OK with Milk of Magnesia if you must. But always keep how you are eating in mind (and, if you need some pointers check out my Healthy Eating section). Also, if you don’t need an immediate bowel movement and can go the more gentle route you may want to consider taking a stool softener like Colace.
Also, in my article about natural constipation remedies I touched on the hot/cold theory which may help you alleviate the constipation as well. And, as I mentioned in the article, no need for coffee since you are pregnant – just plain ol’ hot water with a little cinnamon or lemon in it should work just as well.