IBS and Pregnancy Complications

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Many people believe that if they have moderate to severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), they should try to avoid having children. However, this isn’t always the case. You need to have a good understanding of the disease, but there is no medical research that suggests you can’t bear a healthy child. Good prenatal care and treatment for your IBS, however, is essential to successfully bearing a child.

Some doctors believe that IBS doesn’t affect the child or the mother at all. This can be the case if the mother is cautious and takes precautions in regards to her IBS. However, there’s no doubt that IBS can affect your pregnancy –it’s just hard to predict how. Many women find that they have no IBS symptoms at all while pregnant. Others may find that pregnancy affects their bowels to a great extent.

Constipation

This is one of the most common symptoms of IBS. However, during pregnancy, constipation has a tendency to get worse for several reasons. Some of the causes of constipation during pregnancy (even in healthy women) are:

Prenatal Vitamins containing iron
Changes in diet
Lack of exercise
The baby’s pressure on the bowel

However, the main cause of constipation is the increase in the hormone progesterone, which causes muscles to relax and can cause the digestive tract to slow down.

The best course of treatment for constipation for pregnant women who suffer from IBS is a diet high in fiber, containing foods such as whole grain breads, vegetables, and fruit. However, if IBS is worsened by food intolerances – such as an intolerance to wheat – adding more fiber to your diet could make things much worse.

Some other possible treatments for constipation include drinking more water and getting more exercise. Speak with your doctor to see what the best course of action is for treating your constipation caused by IBS. Your physician may also recommend fiber supplements like Metamucil to help relieve your symptoms. Theses are usually considered safe to take for extended periods of times. Your doctor may also prescribe a gentle stool softener or laxative to help make you more comfortable.

Diarrhea

Some women with IBS will have just the opposite problem during their pregnancy. They may find that they have considerable diarrhea, often accompanied by severe cramps and gas pains. Others will have a diarrhea one month and then constipation the next month. There really no specific rhyme or reason to the severity of symptoms of IBS during pregnancy.

While there are many over-the-counter medications that can help lower the incidence of diarrhea, these are not recommended for pregnant women suffering from IBS. Again, speak with your doctor to determine the best course of action for IBS, especially when you’re pregnant. It’s also a good idea to speak with your doctor if you’ve been diagnosed with IBS and are considering becoming pregnant. He or she will be able to advise you on how to keep your IBS under control throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

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