For some women, pregnancy is a breeze. But for others it can be a battle. Creating a new life is not an easy task, after all!
Pregnancy hormones are a notorious lot. Their primary task is to nurture your baby. But they do lead do some unwanted side effects too. But is there a connection between pregnancy hormones and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? Let’s find out.
What Is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a common functional disorder of the digestive system. People of any age can get IBS, but women seem to be particularly affected by it. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 80% of IBS patients in the US are women (1). So, it is given that a number of pregnant women experience IBS symptoms.
Causes Of IBS:
Even today, the cause for IBS remains unknown. But many experts opine that neurotransmitters in the gastrointestinal tract or bacterial infection may be the culprits. Some people also experience worsening of IBS symptoms on consuming certain foods. Stress too is one of the factors that can lead to worsening of IBS symptoms.
Symptoms Of IBS:
There are a number of ibs symptoms during pregnancy. Here are the major ones to watch out for:
- Abdominal Pain
These are very common symptoms and can indicate a number of digestive issues. Only your doctor can give a correct diagnosis. The problem with IBS is that there is no diagnostic tool for it. The best you doctor can do is rule out other digestive problems and end with a diagnosis of IBS.
Is There A Link Between IBS And Early Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through a rollercoaster of changes. The bowel function also changes during pregnancy. This leads to instances of heartburn and constipation. Not much is known about why these changes take place. But many experts agree that the elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone have something to do with it (2).
So, because pregnancy hormones lead to changed bowel function, it can be said that pregnancy can lead to IBS or make IBS symptoms worse, though not many studies show a link between the two.
[ Read: Heartburn During Pregnancy ]
Risks Associated With IBS During Pregnancy:
Most doctors believe that IBS does not lead to much negative effect on a pregnancy. But some studies indicate that women with IBS are at an increased risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy (3). That is why it is important to be proactive while dealing with pregnant women who complain of IBS. If you have IBS, consult your doctor and discuss ways of keeping your pregnancy safe.
[ Read: Ectopic Pregnancy ]
Treating IBS Symptoms During Pregnancy:
Without a known cause, treating IBS remains a battle, whether you are pregnant or not. The best you can do is manage the symptoms.
The plans for ibs treatment during pregnancy differ from person to person. If you, like many other pregnant women, want to avoid using medication to treat IBS symptoms, try the following tips:
- Add more fiber to your diet along with increased fluid intake. This will decrease bouts of constipation.
- Eat regular meals.
- Practice some pregnancy-friendly exercises.
- You can also include fiber supplements to ease constipation.
- Avoid foods that trigger episodes of IBS.
- If stress and anxiety are making your IBS symptoms worse, try meditation or yoga.
- Include some probiotic-rich food or a probiotic supplement in your diet.
- If you are a smoker, it will be a good idea to quit now.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
- Try including iron rich food in your diet. This will enable you to cut down on iron tablets, which are known to cause constipation.
[ Read: Constipation During Pregnancy ]
Most importantly, talk to your doctor. Never use any OTC medication or herbal supplements without consulting your doctor first.
When you are pregnant, you should leave nothing to fate. Advocate for yourself and ask questions. Tell your doctor about your worries regarding the link between IBS and miscarriages. He will not just help you manage the IBS symptoms but also put your mind at ease.
Are you experiencing IBS during pregnancy? What symptoms have you faced? What are you doing to get relief? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!
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