Pregnancy and IBS

Updated on January 01, 2013
A.C. asks from Atlanta, GA
8 answers

This is mostly a curiousity question, as I am not currently pregnant nor am I attempting to get pregnant. Several of my friends are now pregnant with Baby #3, and it is absolutely something my husband and I have considered for a later date.

I was diagnosed with IBS after my second child was born. Since then, I've been playing with diet and medications, and my IBS has dramatically improved. Really dramatically - these treatments have absolutely changed my life. However, the medications that have helped me function are NOT drugs I would be willing to take while pregnant.

So I'm curious about other women's experiences. I'm not really looking for advice, I just wonder how women cope with IBS while pregnant. Does it get worse? Better? If you were on medication, did you have to go off? If you noticed a change in your IBS during pregnancy, did it return to how it had been after you gave birth? Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone who answered! I have had my gall bladder removed and been tested for gluten intolerance, so though I appreciate the suggestions, I know neither of those is the cause. Which is lucky, because as a vegetarian, removing gluten from my diet would SEVERELY limit what I could eat! I really enjoy hearing about what people do to ward off the agonizing cramps, and I appreciate the advice!

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answers from Minneapolis on

My IBS was not acute and not officially diagnosed until after my pregnancies. However, looking back it had started before then and gradually got a little worse with each pregnancy. However, I am now able to control my symptoms with diet and exercise and rarely need my meds, other than Citrucel. It took months, even years, of experimenting with foods to determine my triggers. Have you met with a nutritionist? Kept a food diary? Those things might be helpful

I also agree with some of the other posters that "IBS" is usually a diagnosis of elimination (they've eliminated other causes) or don't really know what is wrong. It is often misdiagnosed. Do you feel pretty comfortable that all other causes were ruled out? In my case, I had fairly extensive testing and feel pretty comfortable with the IBS diagnosis. I also have some family history and other minor conditions that are consistent with IBS.

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answers from Boston on

I'm a nutritional consultant and I can tell you that I've worked with hundreds of people with IBS issues. You've had great results on medication,which is great, but remember that the drugs are treating the symptoms and not the cause. You can take a perfectly safe, balanced supplement which will get at the underlying cause - safe for pregnant women, nursing moms, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, etc. In fact, the food scientist who led the team that developed it got his start on the team that developed the first soy-based infant formulas. You may know that formulas are produced under stricter standards than most foods. I would suggest you start this now, let your doctor wean your off your meds (which will eliminate any toxins stored elsewhere in your organs), and get yourself stabilized - then you can get pregnant without any worries. Happy to help if you want to get more info.

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answers from Kansas City on

Like Diane B said, the proper nutrition can make all the difference in the world. I suffered 40 years with IBS, took medications like Librium, Donnatal, Bentyl, Immodium, Lomotil ,to name a few, many trips to the Dr. for tests and scopes, played with my diet, took Metamucil which in itself was better than the meds, BUT, doing what Diane is talking about, it is a total NON ISSUE now and a med free life, and able to eat whatever I want, with no cramping, no urgent trips to bathroom and no constipation
When your body works right, so does the pregnancy.

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answers from Miami on

I don't have an answer to your question, mom, but I just wanted to throw something out that a gal told me last week. She had been diagnosed with IBS and all this time, thought it was what ailed her. However, it turned out that she is gluten intolerant. Once she got gluten out of her diet, she was fine. Is there any possibility that you might fit in that category?

It might be worth exploring that! At least it would get you off your meds.


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answers from Tulsa on

I have finally began taking IBS meds. I was diagnosed 30 years ago.
I can not take it if there is a chance of pregnancy. That was why I could not take it before. Se-Donna is addictive and also raises blood sugar.

My IBS got better during pregnancy because I ate better(no cokes, no caffeine, and lots of vegetables). I really can tell if I have caffeine that the spasms HURT and have me running to the bathroom. I am SLOWLY weaning myself off caffeine.

I found out I can not eat lettuce at all or too much raw spinach.

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answers from Portland on

I'm kind of with BeenThere; I ate blueberries throughout my pregnancy to stay regular.

I have treated my IBS (which got worse a few years after my pregnancy) with the FOD-MAPS diet and follow it pretty closely. For me, this works; this diet identifies which foods create which kinds of fermenting sugars in the colon, as some of those sugars are huge triggers. Avoiding those trigger foods has been essential for me, and I'm grateful to stay off meds, etc.

Here's an article (the article that literally changed my life)

You can search online for the Fod-Maps lists. I found that it's good to double-check the lists against each other (some discrepancies on the About site, I found). I also discovered that some of my 'bad' foods I can have in small quantities, like a little bit of avocado in my sushi isn't going to get me the way some avocado and garlic guacamole will.

Good luck, and do try this diet, even with your meds. I also take activated charcoal capsules after some questionable meals, when my options are limited. This really does help, too.

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answers from Dallas on

Horrible constipation while pregnant. Back to same old ibs afterward. No medications while pregnant.

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answers from Hartford on

IBS is really just a catch-all phrase for, "We don't know what's wrong with your digestive system or what to call it." That's what I discovered. Then I ended up in the emergency room after eating a bowl of popcorn and other healthy vegetables and fruits that had a lot of seeds or skins on them.

With a gastroenterologist taking a lot of time going over my ENTIRE medical history and my diet (which thankfully was easy because it's so healthy) and my fitness, we were able to figure out that I have Diverticulosis with bouts of Diverticulitis. Officially there aren't foods to avoid, but in reality I have to avoid whole unprocessed grains, seed foods such as corn, pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries, cucumber seeds, squash seeds that are not cooked, tomato seeds, apple skins, and other similar seedy and difficult to digest foods. Sometimes I have a bout anyway.

Pregnancy made it worse, which is why popcorn landed me in the hospital.

I'm really far too young to have Diverticulosis. It doesn't usually present until you're in your 50's or, if there's family history, your mid-40's. It was different for me because I have Fibromyalgia. The Fibro means I have full-system issues including digestive. Luckily treating it as Diverticulosis means I have maybe one bout a month or every other month as opposed to a couple times a week or more.

I don't take any medication for it. My brother had "IBS" which turned out to be his gall bladder needing to be removed, and due to issues after that he's on medication for the rest of his life so that he can properly digest his meals. He also should be taking prescription grade probiotics, the kind you need to keep in your fridge, but he won't.

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