Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in Pregnnacy: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) During Pregnancy

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic bowel problem condition having episodic stomach cramps, bloating, flatulence and either constipation or diarrhoea. It can cause severe pain in the abdomen, uneasiness, and inconvenience. The causes are not known, and there is no permanent cure for the condition. However, few changes in the diet, lifestyle and some treatment can help in reducing the symptoms.

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an intestinal disorder. The main symptoms may include abdominal pain, loose motions and constipation. It does not cause any life hazards but can affect the everyday lives of people suffering from the condition. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. People with mild symptoms can go without any treatment. However, people with severe symptoms may have to undergo some treatment and lifestyle changes.

Relation Between IBS and Pregnancy

IBS in early pregnancy brings with it lots of gastrointestinal problems like morning sickness, heartburn, constipation or diarrhoea. Make sure you eat right and healthy. Taking a cup of ginger tea during this period can help alleviate the symptoms of IBS. IBS and pregnancy diarrhoea is quite common in pregnant women. However, there may be two sides to it. Women who have IBS before pregnancy are either more prone to severe symptom during pregnancy or get relief from it during the pregnancy period.

Causes of IBS When Pregnant

Gastrointestinal disorders, like IBS, are quite usual among pregnant women. It can be caused by a number of reasons like –

  • Increase in stress level during pregnancy
  • Pregnancy hormone-induced anxiety
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • The pressure of the growing baby inside the uterus on the stomach and intestines
  • Some trigger foods which may cause gas, flatulence, bloating, etc. like dairy products, peanuts, cauliflower, beetroot, broccoli etc.
  • Intake of alcohol, caffeine products like tea and coffee etc.
  • Eating heavy meals or spicy and oily food
  • Skipping meals
  • Taking iron tablets during pregnancy which may cause constipation

Causes of IBS When Pregnant

IBS Symptoms in Pregnant Women

IBS symptoms in pregnant women may be according to the trimester she is in.

  • In the first trimester, pregnant women may experience an increase in heartburn, acidity, and many may suffer from loose motions.
  • Constipation is another symptom that pregnant women may suffer from, especially during the last trimester.
  • Some may even suffer from abdominal pain.
  • The stools may also have mucus.
  • Bloating, flatulence and gas may be some of the other IBS symptoms during pregnancy.

How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed in Pregnancy?

There are no specific tests to diagnose IBS in pregnancy. Doctors rely more on the symptoms of the patients to diagnose IBS. Although there are no definite tests to detect it, there are some tests which may help in ruling out similar symptomatic medical conditions.

The doctor may ask for tests like –

  • Colonoscopy to look into the inner lining of the large intestine.
  • Faecal occult blood to check if there is any presence of blood in the stool.
  • Blood tests to test for anaemia, tissue damage or tissue damage, and celiac disease.

Moreover, having periods of diarrhoea and periods of constipation with non-pregnancy related abdominal pain for three or more days a month is a sure symptom of IBS during pregnancy.

How Does IBS Affect Pregnancy?

IBS pregnancy complications can lead to risks in pregnancy. It will only affect you. IBS may lead to long periods of diarrhoea resulting in dehydration which could cause preterm labour. On the other hand constipation due to IBS during pregnancy may result in rectal bleeding or even haemorrhoids. It may also affect the pelvic muscles that are important during childbirth. IBS affected women are also at high risk of having a miscarriage.

However, there is nothing to prove that IBS affects or harms the baby in the womb. IBS doesn’t affect a woman’s fertility or her ability to get pregnant.

How Is IBS Affected by Pregnancy?

IBS during pregnancy may get more severe due to the pregnancy hormones. Pregnant women may experience more problems related to digestion like diarrhoea, nausea, constipation, bloating, gas, heartburn or acidity, etc. With the growing baby inside you, the intestines and digestive tract get pressed leading to a problem in bowel movement.

How Does IBS Affect the Baby in the Womb?

It is said that diarrhoea in pregnancy, due to IBS, may cause dehydration in pregnant women and also strip the mother and the baby of essential nutrients. It may result in preterm deliveries which may at times prove to be fatal for the baby. In some cases, the baby may develop health complications too. It may also result in miscarriages or ectopic pregnancy.

Can You Prevent IBS When Pregnant? 

It may be a bit of a challenge to prevent IBS. However, you can prevent it by avoiding foods that may trigger the symptoms of IBS. Following a balanced and healthy diet, drinking lots of fluid, exercising and remaining stress-free are some of the best ways of preventing IBS during pregnancy.

Can You Prevent IBS When Pregnant? 

However, make sure to consult a doctor if the problem persists for a long time or you have severe symptoms. You should also consult the doctor before taking any medicine.

Effective Treatments to Cure IBS During Pregnancy

There is no permanent cure for IBS. However, you can reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome through the various ways listed below.

  • Eat healthily and the right amount of food.
  • Eat small portions but at regular intervals.
  • Eat only home-cooked food
  • Avoid spicy food which may trigger poor digestion and harm your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Avoid eating fried food which may trigger acid reflux.
  • Include lots of fibrous food and fruits in your daily diet.
  • Include probiotics in your diet.
  • Drink lots of water and fresh juice of fruits and vegetables.
  • Instead of taking constipation inducing iron tablets, take iron-rich food.
  • Avoid foods and vegetables which may trigger gas, bloating and flatulence.
  • Avoid high-fat dairy products.
  • Quit drinking alcohol and smoking.
  • Keep a tab of what all you eat and write about the symptoms, if any, triggered by the food eaten.
  • Meditate, practice yoga postures fit for pregnancy, read, go for long walks, laugh and be stress-free.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • You may also try out home remedies instead of taking over-the-counter medicines or allopathy medicines.

IBS may be a lifelong condition, but there are ways to control it. There is nothing to get anxious or depressed when you have IBS. You have to remember that you are not alone handling IBS during pregnancy. There are many like you or some who may be struggling with severe symptoms of IBS during pregnancy. IBS during pregnancy can be tough to handle but with the right approach, good dietary habits, some lifestyle changes and a bit of treatment, you will not even notice it.

Also Read:

Heartburn During Pregnancy

21 Common Pregnancy Problems & Their Solutions

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