BOWEL ISSUES DURING PREGNANCY AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM?

Do you poop a lot when pregnant or suffer from constipation after every few days? Not to worry about anything because you are not alone. During pregnancy, bowel movements of every three out of four women are disturbed and they have many stomach issues (that are, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal distension etc) because of this. Results of a survey revealed that 72 percent of all pregnant women go through stomach problems during the first trimester of pregnancy whereas, another survey tells that 61 percent of women also have such problems in late pregnancy.

Whether you have it in early pregnancy or the last trimester, there can be various reasons why you are facing these troubles. Once you know the reason, it becomes easy to get rid of them. So, let’s shed some light on this issue and look for some effective treatment for the problem.

Why Are You Having Bowel Issues

Why Are You Having Bowel Issues?

It is rather difficult to put finger on the exact cause of stomach issues during pregnancy because these are common problems, whether you are pregnant or not, happening every now and then. Here are a few common causes of bowel issues:

  • It may be because of the anxiety or nervousness you are experiencing due to pregnancy because it is normal to be anxious if it’s your first experience.
  • The change in diet preferences, digestion issues (like food poisoning), or some previous food sensitivity (as it doubles up when you become pregnant) like lactose intolerance etc can also cause such problems.
  • If a virus sneaked in your stomach somehow and caused a stomach infection, you can have loose stools in early pregnancy and also it can return (diarrhea somewhat subsides during the second trimester) in the third trimester.
  • Sometimes, these issues lead to the hemorrhoids which are caused by increased blood flow or pressure to veins due to growing uterus.
  • It can also be due to the hormonal imbalance. Estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate during the whole period of pregnancy which also affects digestion and can cause vomiting, nausea, and sometimes, frequent bowel movements (diarrhea) in early pregnancy.
  • If you’ve Hypothyroidism (less Thyroxine level), you will most likely be constipated whereas, Hyperthyroidism (more Thyroxine level) causes diarrhea.
  • As your pregnancy progresses, your physical activity levels change. This also affects your diet and digestion leading to stomach issues.
  • Certain medication, especially food supplements, can be a cause too. Iron causes constipation while vitamin supplements (contain stool softeners) can be a reason for diarrhea.

Treatment Of Bowel Problems:

There are different ways by which your stomach can be cured based on the problem you are having. All of these are discussed separately here :

Constipation:

If you notice the symptoms of constipation, you can try the following methods to cure it:

  • Drink plenty of fluids like water, prune juice or other fruit juices.
  • Switch your diet to high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables whole grain cereals, beans etc. Increase your fiber intake (from usual 16 to 17g) to 25 to 28g per day.
  • Try some light exercises (the ones that are safe for pregnancy) and a morning or evening walk.
  • Certain over the counter medications for softening stools, which are safe to use, can be taken for treatment.

constipated pregnant women

Loose Bowels (Diarrhea):

    • You have to make certain changes in your diet if you have diarrhea:
      • If you have lactose intolerance, do not take milk products for a few days.
      • If diarrhea is due to the stomach infection, take the BRAT diet (Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Toast)
      • Decrease the amount of sugar in your diet. Use unsweetened cereals, simple vegetables (for example, cooked carrots), meat and yogurt.

 

  • Fluids that you drink should also be chosen carefully :

 

    • Do not drink sweet drinks like fruit juices as they will leave you even more dehydrated.
    • Simply drink water and sports drinks are also better if you really want to add flavor to it.
  • In case of medicines, do not opt for any without consulting your healthcare advisor because some of the OTC medicines available contain Sodium or Sodium bicarbonate which are not good for both you and your baby.

Hemorrhoids:

Unfortunately, hemorrhoids are something that you cannot treat. They are permanent in most cases, but you can surely ease the pain:

  • Soak the affected area in warm water for a few hours to relieve the pain.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time as it can increase the problem.
  • Ask your doctor for prescribing some over the counter hemorrhoid cream or a medicated pad for the pain.

Hemorrhoids during pregnancy

When To See A Doctor?

If your stomach is disturbed, it is completely a normal thing to happen during pregnancy but you still have to keep looking as to how bad it is. If you see the following symptoms, immediately contact the doctor:

  • If any of the situations (constipation, diarrhea, or blood in feces) persists for more than two days.
  • If your bowel problems return after you have been traveling abroad.
  • If your diarrhea from food poisoning doesn’t get any better after 24 hours, because then, it is a symptom of some other problem.
  • If you are constipated for a long time and then suddenly pass a watery stool, it is a symptom of “fecal implication”, that is, your feces are blocked somewhere in the intestine and you need an immediate treatment.
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea bloating etc are also the signs of fecal implication. If any of these symptoms appear, inform the doctor.

Do you still have questions regarding the problem? Ask us in the comments below.

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