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IBS & Pregnancy

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, about a third of pregnant women suffer from constipation in the last trimester (IFFGD, 2012). In another study reported by Loyola University Medical Center (May 2013) , nearly 3 out of 4 pregnant women experience constipation, diarrhea or other bowel disorders during their pregnancies.

Upwards to a third of pregnant women experience increased constipation, particularly during the last trimester. Many women report increased heartburn and nausea in the first trimester, and another third of women report an increase in stool frequency during pregnancy. Changes in the ovarian hormones, which are elevated during pregnancy, and the physical pressure the growing baby places on the bowel wall, may both contribute to GI symptoms. For many women, pregnancy is a time of heightened stress and this may exacerbate underlying anxiety and depression, which can lead to a vicious cycle of increasing GI symptoms and increasing stress. For example, increased progesterone levels affect the smooth muscles in the intestines. Consequently, it takes longer for food to move through the intestines, which can cause constipation. Vitamins and calcium and iron supplements that women take during pregnancy also can cause constipation.

Managing Symptoms

Majority of women avoid drug therapy as a solution for IBS, especially during pregnancy. Women should avoid using herbal therapies for IBS symptoms because many remain untested. Talk to your doctor before using any medicine while pregnant.

Discuss with your doctor the use of any medications or supplements before taking them.


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