Pregnancy involves a great deal of changes and sometimes a variety of symptoms. If you’re pregnant and you have frequent diarrhea or unbearable constipation, you might have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a type of gastrointestinal disorder in which your intestines don’t function properly.

IBS symptoms may worsen during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. However, there’s no evidence showing that women with IBS have worse symptoms after delivery.

IBS has a wide variety of symptoms and it can be affected by sensitivity to certain foods. If you’re pregnant, you should be more cautious with IBS treatment because of the potential effects on your baby. Whether you already have IBS or are newly diagnosed during pregnancy, you can take steps to control symptoms now and long after your baby is born.

Common Symptoms of IBS

The symptoms of IBS can be different for everyone. Some people might be more sensitive to fiber, while others may have a stronger reaction to high-fat foods.

Common IBS symptoms include:

  • frequent diarrhea
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
  • cramping
  • bloating

Identifying IBS during pregnancy can be difficult. This is because some of the symptoms are similar to common pregnancy complaints. Constipation, for example, is extremely common. About one-third of pregnant women say they experience constipation in the last trimester.

You’re more likely to experience constipation the further you are into your pregnancy. This is because of the extra weight being placed on your intestines. Many doctors recommend prenatal vitamins with added fiber to help things move along

Bloating is another commonly overlooked pregnancy symptom in women with IBS. When you’re pregnant, you retain a lot of fluids to help support your growing baby. Any excess bloating in the abdominal area may be difficult to identify as a symptom of IBS.

Dietary Factors

As a future mother, you take every step you can to make sure your growing baby has all of the nutrients they need. This can include taking prenatal vitamins and eating a balanced diet that includes an increased amount of fiber. This will help you limit the amount of diarrhea you experience.

You should discuss vitamin dosages with your doctor. You should also be aware of overdose symptoms for the vitamins you’re taking.

It can be difficult to determine the exact causes of your symptoms in pregnancy. However, if your doctor has ruled out nutritional toxicity with a blood test and dietary evaluation, then IBS may be the cause of your symptoms.

Controlling IBS During Pregnancy

IBS symptoms can worsen during pregnancy, and they may be hard to control as a result. Specific reasons for worsening symptoms may include:

  • increased stress
  • increased anxiety
  • hormones
  • your baby putting pressure on the walls of your bowels

Making lifestyle changes is the best way to treat IBS during pregnancy. A large part of this has to do with what you eat. Add more whole grain foods to your diet if you’re experiencing constipation. You should also keep track of what foods you eat. Avoid any trigger foods that are causing constipation or diarrhea. Common trigger foods include:

  • beans
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower

Many people with IBS, especially those who are pregnant, can benefit from avoiding consuming:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine, which can be found in coffee, soda, and tea
  • fried foods
  • high-fat dairy products

Preventing IBS Symptoms

IBS is difficult to identify during pregnancy and hard to control. Over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies commonly used for IBS symptoms may not be safe to take when you’re pregnant.

You should work with your doctor to create an eating plan that prevents IBS symptoms. Having an eating plan can also decrease anxiety, which can also help lessen symptoms. Exercising and drinking plenty of water can help regulate your bowel movements. You should never take any medicines or supplements without checking with your doctor first.