How to Manage the Condition Safely

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Pregnancy is a journey stuffed with many new, thrilling, and—let’s face it—generally irritating unintended effects. One minute, you feel the enjoyment of your child kick for the primary time, and the subsequent, you are dealing with raging heartburn. Seems, GI points are literally fairly widespread throughout being pregnant—issues like morning sickness, nausea, and extra fuel can creep up at any time.

However what occurs for those who’re already coping with a pre-existing GI difficulty, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and get pregnant? Does your situation worsen, or possibly even enhance, whilst you’re anticipating? And if it does worsen, can you continue to take the identical drugs (or eat the identical meals, train the identical means, and so on.) that after helped alleviate your flares?

To study extra concerning the connection between IBS and being pregnant, we spoke with Karina—a mom of two with IBS—about her expertise managing her situation whereas anticipating. We additionally tapped two specialists for tips about managing IBS flares whereas additionally holding you and your child wholesome and secure.

What’s it wish to have IBS whereas pregnant?

Navigating IBS throughout being pregnant could be a completely different expertise for every particular person, however for Karina, it was a little bit of a curler coaster experience. The start of Karina’s first being pregnant made her really feel like she was in a continuing IBS flare, along with her diarrhea getting worse by the day.

“After the primary few weeks, I began coping with morning illness, too, which made it very arduous to eat safely,” she says. She may solely abdomen meals that occurred to be IBS triggers, whereas meals traditionally “secure” for her IBS had been inconceivable to even have a look at. (Being pregnant meals aversion is actual, people).

However there got here a lightweight on the finish of the tunnel: On the finish of her first trimester, Karina’s IBS truly improved, and even felt nonexistent at occasions. By her second and third trimesters, she hardly handled diarrhea. She had occasional bloating, heartburn, and even unhealthy fuel pains (that despatched her to the hospital to ensure every little thing was okay), however general, she was within the clear.

Attending to that time concerned a whole lot of adjustments to her typical IBS therapy. Many coping expertise she’d acquired had been now thought-about “no-nos” in being pregnant. She could not use a heating pad on her stomach to alleviate IBS cramps, and he or she could not take sure drugs to cease diarrhea. She additionally needed to re-learn which meals triggered (or did not trigger) IBS flares—each throughout and post-pregnancy.

Fortunately, sure habits she had already carried out for a healthy pregnancy helped her IBS. She started taking iron supplements for her iron-deficiency anemia, which causes constipation in some individuals, however truly helped her cease taking so many journeys to the toilet. She additionally began prenatal yoga, which helped alleviate some GI discomfort like cramping and fuel.

Managing IBS whereas pregnant helped Karina mitigate some potential dangers to her and her child’s well being. (Extra on this beneath.)

Is there any threat of being pregnant problems from IBS?

“IBS can improve an individual’s threat of dehydration and dietary deficiency throughout being pregnant,” says Keren Kohath, DO, OB/GYN at Pediatrix Medical Group in San Jose, California. This can be the case if an individual has frequent diarrhea or if they’re avoiding many meals that set off their IBS signs. For that reason, it is necessary to work together with your physician and/or a registered dietitian well-versed in IBS to assist handle your signs throughout being pregnant.

It is doable there may additionally be an elevated threat of sure being pregnant problems with IBS, although the analysis is proscribed. There’s one small Could 2021 assessment in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research2 that discovered a slight elevated threat of ectopic being pregnant in individuals with IBS in comparison with these with out. One other December 2022 research within the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, which checked out over 9 million deliveries, concluded IBS was related to elevated threat of preeclampsia, deep venous thrombosis (DVT), and beginning defects.

Take into account: This data is not meant to scare you, and extra analysis is required to utterly help these findings. Most individuals with IBS go on to have completely regular pregnancies, and simply because IBS is related to these outcomes doesn’t imply IBS triggered them.

Both means, it is necessary to deliver as much as your OB/GYN whether or not you’ve got IBS or begin to develop signs. That means, they will monitor you carefully and assist forestall any problems.

Can being pregnant trigger new-onset IBS?

Being pregnant may cause new-onset IBS for a number of causes. “Being pregnant causes important hormonal adjustments, together with a rise in progesterone—which may result in constipation,” says Dr. Kohath. She provides that important structural adjustments throughout being pregnant, like elevated strain in your gastrointestinal organs, can even contribute to the event of IBS signs.

And it’s not simply the bodily adjustments that may trigger IBS-like signs. “Being pregnant and the postpartum interval may be occasions of heightened emotional stress and anxiousness, that are recognized to exacerbate GI signs,” says Sarah Robbins, MD, MSc, gastroenterologist and founding father of Well Sunday. “Stress can affect the severity and notion of IBS signs as a result of its impact on the gut-brain axis,” she provides.

Some signs to be careful for embrace constipation, diarrhea, or a mixture of each, says Dr. Kohath. Different signs of IBS embrace belly ache and bloating. When you’re having these signs, Dr. Kohath recommends looking for personalised care out of your doctor, as these signs may very well be associated to a number of causes. Dr. Robbins additionally notes within the context of being pregnant, distinguishing new-onset IBS from typical pregnancy-related GI points may be difficult, because of the overlap in signs. Your physician might help you determine the distinction.

“Managing IBS throughout being pregnant entails balancing the necessity to alleviate IBS with food regimen adjustments and making certain you get sufficient vitamins for you and your child.” —Sarah Robbins, MD, gastroenterologist

Methods to safely handle IBS whereas pregnant

In case you have IBS and are planning to get pregnant, you could have a whole lot of questions on methods to safely handle your situation whereas carrying your little one. Luckily, there are lots of efficient administration methods you should use.

Make slight dietary modifications

“Managing IBS throughout being pregnant with food regimen adjustments is a nuanced matter, as a result of it entails balancing the necessity to alleviate IBS with making certain you get sufficient vitamins for you and your child,” says Dr. Robbins. Whereas avoiding set off meals—like these excessive in sure carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs—might assist relieve IBS signs, avoiding these meals for too lengthy can result in nutrient deficiencies if not managed rigorously, she provides.

Somewhat than broad dietary restrictions, Dr. Robbins recommends selectively eliminating essentially the most symptom-provoking meals. You possibly can determine which of them these are by holding a meals diary or following a quick elimination diet. If you cannot determine which meals are triggering, cease your elimination food regimen and let your physician know.

With that in thoughts, it is also necessary to work together with your physician or a registered dietitian on slowly eliminating sure meals out of your food regimen, whereas nonetheless assembly your nutrient necessities. For instance, for those who’re chopping again on dairy, it’s possible you’ll have to take a complement to fill nutrient gaps—like calcium or vitamin D.

Get extra fiber

Including extra fiber to your food regimen is a normal advice for individuals with IBS (whether or not they’re pregnant or not), however differing types have completely different advantages, in accordance with a March 2021 assessment within the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Insoluble fiber, which may be present in issues like wheat bran, fruit, and vegetable skins, helps bulk up and transfer stool by means of your intestines. Soluble fiber, however, bulks up stool by pulling water into your GI tract. It may be present in issues like psyllium husk, oats, bananas, and apples with out the pores and skin, per Dr. Robbins.

Soluble fiber is usually beneficial, particularly in the course of the third trimester when constipation can develop into extra pronounced,” she says. “When you’re increasing your fiber intake, do it slowly to scale back the danger of fuel and bloating.”

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

As a result of constipation is already a standard being pregnant symptom, Dr. Kohath advises all pregnant individuals to stay properly hydrated to get issues shifting. In case you have a tough time getting sufficient H2O all through the day, attempt holding a enjoyable water bottle close by and taking sips at common intervals. You possibly can even obtain an app that may ping you when it is time to drink more water.

And for those who merely do not just like the style of plain ol’ water? Attempt including items of contemporary mint, slices of cucumber, or a couple of berries to your glass.

Eat small, frequent meals

When you really feel IBS signs approaching proper after you eat, it’s possible you’ll wish to regulate the frequency of your meals. Dr. Kohath recommends consuming small, frequent meals all through the day to keep away from overloading your digestive system. You might discover this additionally retains blood sugar crashes and starvation pangs at bay if you’re pregnant.

Small, frequent meals and snacks may additionally assist stave off nausea, which is widespread within the first trimester, she provides.

Incorporate stress-management strategies

“Being pregnant could be a demanding time, and stress can exacerbate IBS symptoms,” says Dr. Robbins. Not solely are you coping with the stressors of on a regular basis life, however you are additionally busy prepping to your child’s arrival, and holding you and your child as wholesome as doable.

To ease a few of that stress away, you possibly can attempt issues like prenatal yoga, meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and mindfulness. All might help lower your stress levels, and probably enhance your IBS signs, she provides.

Attempt light train and stretches

There are nonetheless loads of exercises you can do while pregnant. In actual fact, they’re inspired for a smoother being pregnant and beginning. Dr. Robbins recommends light train like strolling, prenatal yoga, or swimming to assist cut back stress, strengthen your muscle mass, and regulate bowel actions.

However after all, speak together with your OB/GYN earlier than beginning any new train routine throughout being pregnant. You wish to make sure that it is a secure and wholesome match.

Ask your physician about pregnancy-safe drugs

Sadly, the safety1 of most drugs used to deal with IBS with constipation (IBS-C) throughout being pregnant and breastfeeding, specifically, just isn’t properly established, says Dr. Robbins. This implies, it is necessary to speak to your physician to seek out the most secure therapy for you, whereas minimizing dangers to your child.

A low-risk possibility is an osmotic laxative, which pulls water into your bowels, and consists of a few of the following, per Dr. Robbins:

  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350
  • Magnesium
  • Lactulose

Choices that needs to be averted (and include elevated threat) embrace the next, per Dr. Robbins:

  • Stimulants like senna
  • Lubricants like castor oil
  • Secretagogues (i.e., insulin-releasing drugs) like linaclotide
  • Prokinetic brokers (which assist stimulate your GI tract) like prucalopride

With IBS-D, issues develop into a bit of trickier. “Selecting the best remedy for IBS-D throughout being pregnant and breastfeeding additionally requires a balanced method to potential dangers and advantages related to every possibility,” says Dr. Robbins. And sadly, most of the generally used drugs for treating IBS-D are not beneficial throughout being pregnant. This consists of:

  • Loperamide (Imodium)
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol)
  • Sure SSRIs
  • Bile acid sequestrants

In the end, earlier than making an attempt any over-the-counter treatment (or prescription you as soon as used), it is necessary to speak to your physician. “They’ll prescribe or advocate pregnancy-safe drugs for managing signs, like antispasmodics for ache or bulk-forming laxatives for constipation,” says Dr. Robbins.

Get your companion concerned

One other approach to handle IBS signs whereas pregnant is by getting your companion (or a trusted liked one) concerned, says Karina. Allow them to know if you end up feeling GI points like morning illness, diarrhea, constipation, and so on. Make a listing of triggering and secure meals so they’re conscious, and ask for assist purchasing and prepping meals for the week.

This kind of help may be particularly necessary when your signs are too intense to prepare dinner or look after your self correctly (which occurred for Karina in these early weeks of being pregnant).

Ask about getting an IBS-friendly meal post-birth

This might not be top-of-mind proper now, however ensuring you’ve got a meal that is not going to hassle your abdomen after you’ve got given beginning on the hospital (or birthing heart) is necessary. Karina did not let docs and midwives find out about her necessities at her first beginning, and he or she ended up not with the ability to eat something the hospital offered for her.

Together with her second being pregnant, she was clear about her dietary wants from the start and was even capable of speak with the hospital’s dietitian properly earlier than beginning. They had been capable of get her a meal that was nutritious and IBS-friendly.

Ask about drugs after beginning

“For my complete first being pregnant, I solely centered on the being pregnant and giving beginning half,” says Karina. As soon as she had her child, she did not pay a lot consideration to what was occurring on the hospital, and did not discover that workers had been giving her laxatives.

As somebody with IBS-D, this was a big “no-no,” and it despatched her right into a horrible flare that lasted for weeks. The second time round, she was cautious to inquire about every little thing she was being given and didn’t get a flare after her second supply.

Backside line: Ask concerning the drugs being given to you after beginning, and whether or not or not they’re going to intervene together with your IBS signs.

Contemplate pelvic ground remedy

Pelvic floor therapy isn’t just a fantastic possibility for strengthening a weak pelvic ground post-birth. It is also an effective way to assist regulate bowel incontinence—a standard difficulty for individuals with IBS-D. Karina discovered pelvic ground remedy throughout and after beginning to be useful in decreasing her bowel incontinence points, and he or she recommends it to anybody coping with IBS flares whereas pregnant.

After all, ask your OB/GYN first about whether or not pelvic ground remedy is best for you.

When to see a physician

Based on Dr. Robbins, it is fairly widespread to have GI signs throughout being pregnant, particularly as a result of all of the physiological and hormonal adjustments occurring in your physique. That stated, distinguishing between regular being pregnant points and IBS requires the experience of a physician. Getting correctly checked out “may be essential to the well being and well-being of each mom and fetus,” she provides.

Discuss to your physician about any adjustments in bowel habits you’ve got seen, and search rapid medical consideration when you have any of the next, per Dr. Robbins:

  • Persistent vomiting, which may result in dehydration and malnutrition if not handled
  • Extreme belly ache
  • Adjustments in bowel actions, like extreme or extended constipation or extreme diarrhea lasting greater than 48 hours
  • Blood in stool or vomit
  • Indicators of dehydration, comparable to dizziness, extreme thirst, dry mouth, and decreased urine output
  • Unexplained weight reduction
  • Persistent heartburn or indigestion
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the pores and skin or eyes), which may point out liver issues

“It’s at all times greatest to err on the facet of warning and produce up considerations or uncommon signs together with your physician throughout being pregnant,” says Dr. Robbins. “Early intervention can forestall problems and guarantee each maternal and fetal well being all through the being pregnant,” she provides.

In case you have IBS, it is comprehensible you could be fearful about it getting worse throughout being pregnant. Luckily, there are lots of issues you are able to do to alleviate flares whereas on this treasured stage of life. By barely altering up your routine, working carefully together with your physician, and advocating for your care post-birth, you possibly can lower your possibilities of IBS flares earlier than and after beginning.


Effectively+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, strong research to again up the knowledge we share. You possibly can belief us alongside your wellness journey.


  1. Moosavi S, Pimentel M, Wong MS, Rezaie A. Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Being pregnant. Am J Gastroenterol. 2021 Mar 1;116(3):480-490. doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000001124. PMID: 33481381.

  2. Talavera JIR, Parrill AM, Elsayad C, Fogel J, Riggs JC, Peng B. The affiliation between ectopic being pregnant and inflammatory bowel illness, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac illness: A scientific assessment. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2021 Could;47(5):1601-1609. doi: 10.1111/jog.14705. Epub 2021 Mar 17. PMID: 33733538.

  3. Alnoman A, Badeghiesh AM, Baghlaf HA, Dahan MH. Being pregnant, supply, and neonatal outcomes amongst ladies with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) an analysis of over 9 million deliveries. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2022 Dec;35(25):5935-5942. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2021.1903421. Epub 2021 Apr 6. PMID: 33823718.

  4. Moosavi, Sarvee et al. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Being pregnant.” The American journal of gastroenterology vol. 116,3 (2021): 480-490. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001124


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