Lactulose in Pregnancy

Pregnant woman reflected on a mirror
Pregnancy hormones can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. (Image: erreperdomo/iStock/Getty Images)

Constipation is a common complaint during pregnancy. However, stimulant laxatives may cause uterine contractions, placing your pregnancy at risk. Drug safety is crucial during pregnancy to protect your unborn child's growth and development. Lactulose is a prescription laxative that your doctor may prescribe to treat constipation during pregnancy. Consult your doctor if you are suffering from constipation.

Constipation

Constipation is common complaint during pregnancy. Symptoms include hard-to-pass stools, small pebblelike stools and fewer bowel movements than normal. Increased hormone levels may play a role in slowing the movement of food through your digestive tract. Later in pregnancy, your growing fetus may press against your rectum, making stools harder to pass.

Function

Lactulose is a type of synthetic sugar. It belongs to a class of laxatives known as stool softeners. When taken, it reaches your intestines intact. Bacteria in your large intestines break down lactulose. The resulting substances, lactic acids and carboxylic acids, attract and draw in water, which helps soften stool. Because stool softeners do not stimulate your intestinal tract, they are safer than stimulant laxatives.

Dosage

Lactulose dosage varies depending on the severity of your constipation. The typical dose is 10 to 45 ml daily. It is usually taken in a single dose, preferably after breakfast. Your doctor will then adjust your dose achieving the desired effect. It may take up to 48 hours for a bowel movement to occur after initial administration. The dose is generally decreased to 10 to 20 mg three days after the first bowel movement occurs. Work with your doctor to find an effective dose.

Precautions

You must not use lactulose if you require a low-lactose diet. Tell your doctor if you have gestational diabetes or any other medical condition, and if you are taking prescription medications, supplements or natural remedies. Lactulose is not associated with serious adverse health effects. However, you should discontinue use and consult your doctor if you experience troubling symptoms associated with lactulose use. Lactulose side effects are generally mild include gas, bloating and diarrhea. Consult your doctor if you experience chronic diarrhea.

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