Many women become constipated when they are pregnant, which can be due to several reasons. Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet is the first recommended treatment, but several medications can be used instead of changing the diet or used along with a diet change. Docusate sodium is one such medication.
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Docusate sodium is used to soften stools when people are constipated or have hemorrhoids. It may also be prescribed to someone who has had a heart attack to prevent them from straining. It works by increasing the amount of fat and water in stools, which prevents them from becoming hard. The medication starts to work within 12 to 72 hours.
Constipation and Pregnancy
Constipation is a common problem for pregnant women. It can be the result of an increased amount of the estrogen and progesterone hormones, less exercise, increased bed rest, iron supplements, and decreased fluids due to vomiting. All of these factors can slow down the amount of time that it takes for the stool to pass through the large intestines.
Uses of Docusate Sodium
Docusate sodium is also prescribed for people who are not pregnant, including those who have hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, hernias, are preparing for surgery or have just given birth. You should not take docusate sodium, or any laxative for that matter, if you start to have a rash, do not have any bowel movements for one or two days, start vomiting, or develop cramps or pain in your lower abdomen.
Is Docusate Sodium Safe During Pregnancy?
According to Mayo Clinic obstetrician Dr. Roger Harms, stool softeners like docusate sodium are safe to use during pregnancy because the ingredients of the medication are not absorbed and are therefore not likely to have a negative effect on the fetus. Dr. Harms does advise that pregnant women talk with their physician before taking this drug or any medication. He also suggests that women consume more fiber, get daily physical activity and drink plenty of fluids, especially prune juice, which is known to help with constipation.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- “Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Endoscopy”; Norton Greenberger, M.D.; 2009
- MayoClinic.com: Laxative (Oral Route)
- MayoClinic.com; Pregnancy Constipation -- Are Stool Softeners Safe?; Roger W. Harms, M.D.; July 2, 2009
- The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Docusate
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diet -- Constipation Overview