Having a chronic bowel problem, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, can dramatically affect a woman who becomes pregnant. While bowel troubles are common during pregnancy, these troubles are intensified exponentially when a woman who has IBS becomes pregnant.
It is important first to understand what exactly IBS is. IBS is a condition that affects the large intestine, which is also known as the bowel. IBS can cause constipation, diarrhea, cramping, or a combination of all of them. IBS is not considered a disease, because it doesn’t cause any damage to the bowel; rather, it is described as a functional disorder. IBS can be extremely painful, or it may be slightly uncomfortable. Stress and diet can aggravate IBS, and women who have IBS tend to have more symptoms when they are on their period.
If a woman’s IBS is under control and quiet during the early stages of pregnancy, it will probably stay that way. Women with IBS who are trying to conceive should consider waiting until their IBS is relatively quiet before conceiving. If a woman becomes pregnant while her IBS is active, it will likely be active during pregnancy.
A healthy diet is the key to controlling IBS both before and during pregnancy. A woman with BIS who is pregnant should take a multivitamin as well as a folic acid supplement. She should avoid foods that can cause an IBS attack. It may be beneficial for a pregnant woman with IBS to consult with a nutritionist or her health care provider to make sure that both she and her baby are getting the nutrition that they both need.
Generally, stool softeners such as Metamucil can be used during pregnancy. High fiber foods may also help. Of course, these changes can lead to more frequent bowel movements, which can also be a problem during pregnancy.
Another basic recommendation for controlling IBS during pregnancy is to get enough water and to remember to exercise. Keeping hydrated will keep the bowel moving properly, and may help to keep both constipation and diarrhea at bay. Exercise will help your body’s overall ability to deal with IBS, and will help with digestion.
In terms of medications, there are some that are considered safe during pregnancy, including Bentyl (Dicyclomine). Zelnorm (tegaserod) has not been studied sufficiently on pregnant women, and the risks are largely unknown. More natural solutions, such as ginger, peppermint, or even hypnosis are generally considered safe and may be helpful in combating the symptoms of IBS during pregnancy.