Last Updated on December 16, 2020
During pregnancy, the increase in circulating progesterone, and the addition of iron supplements can often lead to constipation. This can be uncomfortable and even downright painful.
Wondering if there are good foods to eat to help reduce or resolve constipation? Well, look no further!
When pregnant, you should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day to help meet needs and prevent constipation (Source: Mayo).
Here, we’ve listed a huge list of fiber-rich foods to tackle pregnancy-related constipation. Many of them are healthy and are also suitable for vegans or vegetarians, too.
And finally, as a Registered Dietitian, I’ve included a fiber-rich smoothie recipe at the end, designed just for you!
High Fiber Foods for Pregnancy Constipation
Here is a comprehensive list of nutritious, high fiber foods that can be consumed during pregnancy:
Fiber Content: 17 grams per 1 medium fruit.
Avocado is a great way to get a healthy dose of fiber; with a mix of digestible and indigestible fiber, it will help you to feel full and get things moving.
Avocado is also high in healthy fat, potassium, B Vitamins, and Vitamin C (Source: MNT).
Avocados can be eaten on their own, smashed on toast, blended into a smoothie, or added to a salad.
They are safe to eat during pregnancy, just be mindful to remove the skin and pit first!
Fiber Content: 10 grams per 2 tablespoons
Chia seeds, once a major food crop in Mexico and Guatemala, have made their way into the popular food scene.
Not only are they super high in fiber, but they are also a great source of healthy fat, protein (they are actually a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids), calcium, phosphorus, and zinc (Source: Harvard).
The fiber in chia seeds is digestible, and when added to liquid, the seeds become gelatinous.
This would be a great food to add into your pregnancy diet to help reduce constipation, especially during the first trimester.
Wondering how to incorporate chia seeds into your diet? Well, it’s quite easy. They can be added to any baked recipe (like muffins or granola), sprinkled on top of yogurt, or made into a chia pudding.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of chia seeds during pregnancy, we have a dedicated article here.
Fiber Content: 8.6 grams per ⅓ cup.
While this is more of a category than one food, bran cereal provides not only a healthy dose of fiber, but also potassium, iron, and protein (source: Nutrition Data).
Bran refers to the outside of cereal grain, and popular bran cereals contain wheat, rice, oat, and other whole grains.
Bran cereal can be eaten with milk for breakfast or for a snack, or can be incorporated into a baked good.
There are lots of recipes for bran muffins, bran cookies, and bran bread that are available online.
It might be fun to try your hand at baking one of these for a nutritious, fiber-rich pregnancy snack!
Fiber Content: 7.9 grams per ½ cup.
Kidney beans are not only rich in fiber, but also a great source of iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, folate, and thiamine (Eat This Much).
As folate is so crucial for a healthy pregnancy, kidney beans are a fantastic food to incorporate folate into your pregnancy diet.
Sometimes they can make you a little extra gassy, but not enough to override the benefits!
Canned beans are already cooked, but can be high in sodium.
If you do want to cook dried beans, a pressure cooker can help to ensure that they are cooked all the way through.
Be aware that eating kidney beans that aren’t well done can make you sick, as the body is not able to break down certain elements in undercooked beans.
Kidney beans are great in a stew, served with rice (which also makes a complete protein), eaten for breakfast with eggs and meat, or incorporated into a blended dip and served with raw vegetables or pita bread.
Fiber Content: 7.8 grams per ½ cup.
These tiny legumes pack a powerful nutrition punch; they are a great source of fiber, protein, folate, potassium, iron, and manganese (Source: Saskatchewan Pulse Growers).
A serving or two of lentils is a fantastic way to promote regularity and prevent constipation during pregnancy.
Lentil soup is a go-to recipe for many, and the added benefit of broth can help to meet your increased fluid needs during pregnancy, too.
Fiber Content: 7.7 grams per 1 ounce serving
Another small but mighty food; flax seeds or ground flax (flax meal) contain both forms of fiber (digestible and indigestible), protein, heart-healthy fat, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals like manganese, copper, and B vitamins (Source: Nutrition Advance).
During pregnancy, flax seeds should only be eaten in small amounts (and flaxseed oil avoided altogether). For more on flax seed safety during pregnancy, read this article.
They are, however, very effective in treating constipation, so you might want to use them in moderation.
A meta-analysis conducted on flaxseed consumption found that flax significantly helped to reduce constipation better than some medications (Source: Nutrition Advance).
Flax seeds can be added to food in the same way as chia seeds; sprinkled into yogurt, added to baked goods, or blended into a smoothie.
If you’re concerned about their safety profile, you can opt for chia seeds (above) instead.
Fiber Content: 7.6 grams per ½ cup.
Black beans are another legume that can safely be consumed during pregnancy.
Not only are they a great source of fiber, but they also contain folate, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamin, protein, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (Source: Nutrition Data).
The fiber in black beans will definitely help to promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation when you’re pregnant.
Wondering about what recipes to make with black beans? Try a black bean chili, rice, and beans (which provide a complete protein), black bean hummus, or a black bean burger.
You can even use black beans in brownies to boost the nutritional value.
Fiber Content: 5.3 grams per ½ cup.
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are the main ingredient in hummus.
These little beans are chock full of good nutrition, including fiber, manganese, folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Omega-6 fatty acids (Source: Nutrition Data).
Chickpeas, like other beans, need to be thoroughly cooked before eating.
Chickpea curry is a delicious way to boost fiber and swap meat for a plant-based protein. They are also delicious when roasted until crisp and added to a salad.
Falafel and hummus are two common ways to enjoy chickpeas and can be made at home with a food processor and just a few ingredients.
Store-bought hummus may need extra caution, as detailed in our hummus article. Homemade is definitely the way to go!
Fiber Content: 5.1 grams per 1 medium fruit.
Pears are one of the most popular fruits in the world. Not only are they a great source of fiber, they also contain Vitamin C, Potassium, and antioxidants (Source: USA Pears).
The fiber in pears is indigestible, which can help to move through the body, alleviating constipation.
One of the nice things about pears is that they can be eaten cooked or raw, and added to sweet or savory dishes. Just make sure you wash them thoroughly first – our fruit prep guide can help with that.
Pears are amazing with a smear of goat cheese (you can check which goat cheeses are pregnancy-safe here), a crusty toast, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Or, try baked pears with cinnamon and cardamom for an earthy, sweet treat.
Fiber Content: 5 grams per ½ cup.
This naturally gluten-free whole grain is not only a great fiber source, but also contains protein, Vitamin E, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese (Source: Nutrition Data).
Quinoa is quick cooking and can be eaten as the base of a grain bowl – what sounds better than a bowl of quinoa, spinach or kale, steak or chicken, and a bit of sweet potato?
A combination like this would also be a great way to get fiber, not only from the quinoa but also from the greens and sweet potato!
If you have a sweet tooth, try adding cooked quinoa to a banana bread recipe; the tiny pieces get crispy when baked, lending a nice contrast in texture to the banana bread while increasing the nutritional value.
Baked Sweet Potato or Yam (With Skin)
Fiber Content: 4.8 grams per 1 medium tuber
Sweet potatoes or yams are a great source of fiber (don’t forget to eat the skin!), as well as carbohydrates, Vitamins A, B6, C, thiamine, potassium, and manganese (Source: Nutrition Data).
If you are feeling constipated, eating a few servings of sweet potatoes can likely help to get things moving.
Sweet potatoes are safe to consume during pregnancy, and can even be incorporated into your baby’s diet as one of the first early foods.
Try a baked sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon and a little brown sugar. Or, take a savory spin with a simple sheet pan dinner of roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and chicken pieces.
Baked (Jacket) Potato With Skin
Fiber Content: 4.4 grams per 1 medium tuber.
During early pregnancy, when constipation and nausea can be the worst, potatoes can be a great food to eat.
They are very nutritious, a good source of fiber, and can be left plain to quell a nauseated stomach.
Mashed potatoes, potato soup, roasted potatoes, or scalloped potatoes are all easy ways to prepare this humble tuber.
Just remember that much of the fiber is in the skin, which is why baking them (also known as ‘jacket potatoes’) is a great way to have them during pregnancy.
Rather than loading them with fillings like sour cream or cheese, try potatoes stuffed with veggies, cooked beans, or other nutritious options.
Not only are potatoes great to help a nauseated tummy and to keep bowel movements regular, they are also super nutritious.
Potatoes are full of potassium, phosphorus, folate, Vitamins B6 and C, and can give you energy thanks to their carbohydrate content (Source: Nutrition Data).
Fiber Content: 4.4 grams per ½ cup.
These small but mighty vegetables pack a powerful punch. Not only are green peas a good fiber source (with digestible and indigestible fiber), they also contain protein, Vitamins A, C, K, thiamine, folate, and manganese (Source: Nutrition Data).
Peas are considered a starchy vegetable, so if you prepare them for dinner, try pairing them with a non-starchy vegetable for a good balance (e.g. broccoli or cauliflower).
They are also delicious in an herbed puree and tossed with pasta for a refreshing spin on pesto.
Fiber Content: 4.1 grams per ½ cup
Bulgur wheat is a common food in the Mediterranean part of the world. It’s a cereal grain made from cracked wheat (similar to steel cut oats), but has a texture more like quinoa.
Nutritionally, bulgur can be a fantastic addition to your pregnancy diet. In addition to fiber, it’s rich in magnesium, manganese, folate, protein, and iron (source: Nutrition Data).
Bulgur could be eaten warm, with milk and a drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast, or could be eaten as the base of a grain bowl, topped with an egg and ground turkey.
It’s one of the ingredients in Tabbouleh (pictured above), a delicious Levantine salad that goes very well with a bit of hummus, koftas, or falafel.
Fiber Content: 4 grams per ½ cup.
One of the first berries on this list, raspberries are a great source of fiber, as well as Vitamins C, K, and manganese (source: Nutrition Data).
Fresh or frozen berries can be consumed, and they can be eaten anytime of the day.
They can be blended into a smoothie, eaten on top of warm or cold cereal, or even made into a spread for toast.
Check out the smoothie at the end of this article to see how to incorporate them into your pregnancy diet.
For more on raspberry benefits during pregnancy, you can read our dedicated raspberry page here.
Steel Cut Oatmeal
Fiber Content: 4 grams per ½ cup cooked.
The options with oatmeal are endless!
Oatmeal can be eaten for breakfast, in a granola or granola bar form, can be mixed into bread, cookie, or muffin batter, and can be eaten hot or cold (overnight oats!).
Oatmeal is also great to eat when you are feeling nauseated, as its high fiber and carbohydrate content can fill your stomach and help you to stay feeling full for longer periods of time (source: Bob’s Red Mill).
Fiber Content: 3.8 grams per ½ cup.
Another awesome berry that can provide fiber and antioxidants in your pregnancy diet is blackberries.
They are also rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, manganese, and contain some Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (Source: Nutrition Data).
Blackberries can be eaten raw, cooked, for breakfast, in a smoothie, or even added to a chopped salad. Just remember to wash them thoroughly first!
Fiber Content: 3.5 grams per 1 ounce serving.
Protein, Vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, fat, fiber, riboflavin, and Omega-6 fatty acids are all packed into these popular nuts (Source: Nutrition Data).
Almonds can be eaten as a snack, roasted and seasoned as part of a mix, incorporated into granola on yogurt, or blended into a smoothie (as almond butter).
For more nutrients and fiber, eat them whole with the skin on, rather than blanched or sliced.
Almonds are also a great substitute for peanuts if there is an allergy issue.
They are safe to eat during pregnancy, but just be mindful of portion sizing, as eating too many may exceed your daily fat requirement.
Fiber Content: 3.5 grams per ½ cup cooked.
Not only is spinach a good source of fiber, it also contains Vitamins A, K, folate, manganese, and magnesium (Source: Nutrition Data).
It can be eaten cooked or raw (if thoroughly washed), is safe for pregnancy, can be blended into smoothies (like the recipe that we have included at the end of the article), and can also be mixed into eggs at breakfast.
Spinach does not have a bitter flavor like kale, so if you do not usually eat greens, it might just be the one to try.
Does Drinking Water Help with Pregnancy Constipation?
In one simple answer, yes, drinking water will help with pregnancy constipation. It’s a good idea to hydrate as well as eating the foods on this list.
When you are pregnant, your body needs more water to help make more blood and grow your baby.
When you do not drink enough water, the body will go to the gut first, and try to reabsorb water in the stool.
This, combined with increased circulating progesterone relaxing the intestinal muscles, can lead to increased risk for constipation.
One easy way to help prevent constipation is by drinking enough water; about 2400 milliliters (0r 10 cups) of water per day, as recommended by the IOM (Source: Mayo Clinic).
The combination of water and fiber from foods in this list can help to bulk stool and keep it softer, resulting in more regular bowel movements.
A few good ways to meet your increased water needs during pregnancy are to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (which all contain some water), and to drink plenty of fluids.
These fluids might include water, 100% fruit juice, low-fat dairy, and pregnancy-safe herbal teas, and also incorporate broth and soups. For more ideas, check our ten drinks to enjoy during pregnancy, besides water.
Tracking your water intake with an app or a chart might help if drinking enough water is something that you know might be a struggle.
Constipation during pregnancy can be uncomfortable and downright painful.
Eating a fiber-rich diet, with a wide variety of foods, along with consuming adequate fluids, can help you feel your best throughout your pregnancy and regulate your bathroom visits.
Below is a bonus smoothie recipe specially designed to combat pregnancy-related constipation.
High Fiber Pregnancy Power Smoothie Recipe
This smoothie is easy to throw together, is packed with fiber and protein, and tastes great. This recipe yields 2 servings.
Total time: 10 minutes
Prep time: 5 minutes
- 1 cup thoroughly washed raw spinach leaves
- 1 cup rinsed fresh or frozen raspberries (or mixed berries)
- ½ avocado (without skin or pit)
- 1 cup low-fat milk or other non-dairy milk of your choice
- ½ cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds – optional, as flax should only be eaten in moderation during pregnancy. For more on this, read our flax article.
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon honey – preferably pasteurized
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If desired, add ice for a thicker texture. Divide into two glasses and serve!
Nutrition information per serving (Nutrition information sourced from the Nutrium database):
301 calories, 38 carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber (27 net carbohydrates), 13 grams fat, 11 grams protein.
More ideas for you on the pregnancy benefits of certain foods:
- The best foods to combat morning sickness or nausea
- Guide to food that can reduce swelling during pregnancy
- A huge list of high-iron foods to prevent anemia when pregnant
This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.