pulsepregnancy and IBS

Can pregnancy cause IBS?

Being pregnant is one of those key moments in someone’s existence. A life-changing event that makes the mother-to-be the center of attention, as her well-being is her family’s main concern. 

Pregnancy changes many aspects of a woman’s body. A growth in hormones linked to the baby’s development in the womb has effects on different organs during those 9 months.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of those effects, and the gastrointestinal symptoms if this condition can be quite uncomfortable.

The two most obvious symptoms are constipation and diarrhea. In those cases, the impact on daily life can be disabling.

IBS symptoms and pregnancy

The two most obvious symptoms are constipation and diarrhea. In those cases, the impact on daily life can be disabling.            

For a woman who already suffered from IBS, pregnancy can increase the symptoms that usually go back to normal after the birth of the child.

IBS can vary greatly according to the person impacted by this particular condition. Most of the symptoms that are described refer to more than usual episodes of diarrhea, strong constipation, bloating, cramping and abdominal pain.

If you are aware of pregnancy “symptoms”, you might wonder how can anyone differentiate them from those from IBS?

One you know that one woman out of three will experience constipation, how can you identify if its origin is from pregnancy or if this is IBS?

When expecting a child, the growth of the foetus puts some pressure on the intestines, thus contributing to the onset of constipation.

The same goes with bloating. IBS and pregnancy have this symptom in common. The reason why bloating appears during pregnancy is because of the way a woman’s body needs to keep more fluid and this new balance may imply bloating.

Food and IBS during pregnancy

The way a mother-to-be will eat during pregnancy will also impact her digestive system. Taking vitamins and improving the quality of meals (less sugar and trans fat, more fibers) will change the way a pregnant woman digest.

If some discomforts appear, a change in the diet or the vitamins could be considered. If those symptoms still occur, and after ruling out other factors with medical examination (blood test, dietary evaluation), IBS could then be the cause of the troubles.

How IBS impacts pregnancy?

For women that already had IBS, pregnancy can increase the symptoms as new factors will impact the intestines. The first and most obvious factor is the presence of the baby. More time passes, the bigger he will get and the more pressure he will put on the bowels. Also, the hormones that will flood in the bloodstream and the rest of the body will have an effect on the gut, but it is not the only worsening factor. Stress and anxiety linked to pregnancy will of course make the IBS symptoms stronger.

How to relieve IBS symptoms during pregnancy?

The main way to relieve IBS symptoms is usually by changing some diet habits, especially when it comes to foods that are known for triggering the discomforts. 

If avoiding alcohol and caffeine is mandatory when pregnant, some other elements can be added to the “don’t eat” list, like fried food or dairy products with a high level of fat. Pregnant women can also put cauliflower, any kind of beans, cabbage and broccoli to this list.

Is it possible to prevent IBS symptoms during pregnancy?

Most medications against IBS should be checked as they may not be suitable with pregnancy. Sport adapted to pregnant women can also ease bowel movements and prevent constipation. The best method to prevent IBS symptoms is to adapt the diet under doctor’s control.


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