Are you a pregnant woman suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)? The management of this condition isn’t easy under most circumstances and is undoubtedly further complicated by pregnancy. Unfortunately, a significant portion of patients with IBS are women of reproductive age – IBS and pregnancy tend to go together more often than not.
What exactly is this syndrome? How does it affect pregnant women? How to treat it? If you’re looking for answers to these questions, you’re in the right place. Join us in taking a closer look at this condition and finding out how to handle it while expecting.
What is IBS?
The IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a common recurrent or long-term disorder of GI (gastrointestinal) functions in one’s organism. It affects between 10% and 15% of the population and is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain or discomfort, as well as gas and bloating. These symptoms may range from mild to severe.
Although it doesn’t cause any serious life hazards, this condition is sometimes difficult to manage and can significantly affect the quality of one’s life. Although people with mild symptoms can usually continue with their lives without having to undergo any treatments, those with severe symptoms typically have to introduce some serious lifestyle changes.
IBS Pregnancy Risks
Due to the fact that pregnancy has a different effect on IBS for each woman, it is almost impossible to predict what exactly you will experience. Some future moms report their symptoms staying the same or worsening, while some find themselves being completely symptom-free during pregnancy.
One particular reason that makes pinpointing the effect of pregnancy on this condition so hard is that a woman’s bowels are always affected by pregnancy anyway. Ladies who are expecting are a lot more prone to constipation and often find themselves having looser stools, and both of these pregnancy symptoms are also symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The same can be said for bloating and gas – these worsen when you have a baby on the way, whether you do or don’t suffer from IBS.
An important thing to mention here is that suffering from this condition puts a future mom at a slightly increased risk of preterm birth (premature delivery). This is why it’s essential to stay alert to signs of incoming premature contractions. The same goes for all other potential risks associated with this IBS, such as ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
Another important thing is ensuring that you’re getting good prenatal care in case you’re both pregnant and suffering from IBS. This means having a practitioner who is aware of the dangers coming with this condition and who will work with you to keep things under control.
How to Manage IBS When You’re Pregnant?
Suffering from IBS while pregnant requires proper self-care and medical attention. Here are some things you need to do to control the flare-ups of your symptoms:
· Work closely with your doctor
Speaking to your obstetrician before taking any IBS-treatment medications is of essential importance, and this includes over-the-counter products. Nobody is in a better position to advise you about the safety of prescription medications for various gastrointestinal conditions.
Some medications are completely okay when they’re used from time to time, and some are best avoided. For example, Imodium may have been one of your most frequently used medications before you got pregnant, but it isn’t such a great option if you’re expecting. This is why it’s essential to work with your health-care professional to figure out which IBS-related drugs you can safely use while being pregnant.
· Drink plenty of fluids
When IBS pregnant, it’s highly essential to maintain adequate hydration – remember that you’re drinking for two. In case you’re suffering from chronic diarrhea, you’re at risk of dehydration due to the excess fluid loss. Having clear urine is a good sign that you’re drinking enough water.
· Eat well
One of the safest ways for managing your IBS symptoms while having a baby on the way is through dietary modification. In other words, you’ll need to follow a well-rounded diet that will provide your developing baby with optimal nutrition.
Try to avoid eating diets that are filled with unhealthy fats. This would include fast foods, greasy foods, as well as fried foods. These foods are known for their capability to strengthen intestinal contractions that contribute to diarrhea episodes and abdominal pain. However, you should not neglect to take in some healthy fats, such as nut butter or coconut oil, as they’re vital for both yours and your baby’s health.
Moreover, try to avoid poorly digested sugars, like sorbitol, fructose, and lactose. This is especially important if you often find yourself experiencing bloating along with diarrhea. In case you suffer from excessive flatulence, on the other hand, make sure to minimize the intake of gassy foods.
· Use stress management options
If you didn’t give psychotherapy a try, the fact that you’re expecting might be just the thing that will get you motivated to try this option as a treatment for your condition. This may be especially important if you experience depression or anxiety alongside irritable bowel syndrome – studies have shown that this kind of combo increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage.
Two types of therapy have shown to be quite effective when it comes to reducing IBS symptoms – hypnotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy. One of the best advantages coming with these types of treatments is that you won’t have to worry about the adverse effects on your child.
· IBS after pregnancy
In case you continue having loose stool or any other irritable bowel syndrome symptoms after pregnancy, make sure to visit your health-care professional. Your IBS could worsen once you give birth to your child, but it could also become much more manageable – it’s different for every woman.
Pregnancy isn’t an easy thing, and it can be even trickier for women suffering from IBS. Being aware of this condition gives you a head start many women don’t have – following the tips mentioned above will help you reduce the symptoms. Good luck!