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How to Deal With Gastrointestinal Disorders While Pregnant
Pregnancy can have its emotional and physical ups and downs. Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as heartburn, nausea, and constipation are some of the most common complaints during pregnancy.Most GI issues when you’re pregnant can get better by adjusting your lifestyle. However, you should get a definitive medical diagnosis that can relieve your discomfort and keep your baby safe and happy. You can deal with GI issues when you’re pregnant by getting a medical diagnosis and managing the symptoms through lifestyle or medication.
Getting a Medical Diagnosis
Keep a journal of your symptoms.Write notes throughout the day or use an online app to track how you’re feeling. Focus on times that you notice GI issues or what makes them feel better.Noting your GI issues can help you and your doctor figure out the cause and best treatment. Common symptoms of GI issues during pregnancy include:
Take detailed notes on your diet.As a part of your journal, detail what you eat every day. Notice if your symptoms develop after you eat or drink. A detailed description of your diet can determine if your diet and GI issues are related. It can also help diagnose the cause of your discomfort and find the best treatment.
See your doctor.Schedule an appointment with your doctor when you notice GI symptoms. Take your notes and food journal to the appointment to help your doctor make the best diagnosis and treatment plan for you.
- Answer your doctor’s questions honestly and don’t worry about being embarrassed. For example, if you’ve been having bowel issues, say, “I go from having uncontrollable diarrhea to being constipated. This changes every couple of days and it’s very uncomfortable.”
Managing GI Issues Through Lifestyle
Eat healthy, small meals.Incorporate foods from the five groups into your daily diet. Eat smaller and more frequent meals during the day to minimize your symptoms. This can ensure that you get the nutrients important for you and your baby.Managing your diet can also reduce GI symptoms.Select foods from the five groups ever day, including:
- Three servings of lean proteins like chicken, salmon, nuts, or pork
- Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, such as raspberries or broccoli
- At least three servings of calcium-rich and low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese or eggs
- Six or more 2 oz (60 g) servings of whole grains such as brown rice or pasta and whole wheat bread.
Drink plenty of fluids.Drink at least 15 cups of water a day. This can keep you hydrated and sustain your pregnancy.It can also ease GI issues such as nausea and constipation.
- Include non-caffeinated tea, bouillon, sodas, and juices in your daily water total. Clear, non-caffeinated soft drinks such as low-sugar ginger ales may also ease nausea and vomiting.
Stay upright after eating or drinking.Sit or stand up straight for several hours after eating or drinking. Bending over or lying down flat can cause heartburn or belching and may make your GI symptoms worse.Wait at least 3 hours to go to bed after a meal to ensure your slowed digestion doesn’t keep you awake.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.Steer clear of foods and beverages with alcohol or caffeine during your pregnancy. Do not smoke. All three substances can harm your baby. They can also make GI issues worse.
- Speak to your doctor if you are having trouble avoiding these substances. They can help you reduce your intake.
Steer clear of trigger foods.Review your food journal and see if you notice any correlation between certain foods and your GI issues. Limit or avoid these foods as much as possible. Some typical trigger foods for pregnant women include:
- Fatty foods, including fried foods and fatty cuts of meat
- Spicy dishes
- Citrus fruits and other acidic foods such as tomatoes
- Salad dressings
Get regular exercise.Ask your doctor if you and your baby are healthy enough for gentle to moderate exercise. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.Doing low to moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise can ease GI issues such as constipation.
- The best way to gauge if you’re doing low- to moderate intensity exercise is that you can still talk but not sing while working out.
- Try walking, swimming, jogging, rowing, biking, or using an elliptical machine.
- Rowing and elliptical machines may become more difficult as pregnancy progresses. Listen to your body and consult your doctor to determine what makes the most sense for you.
Taking Medication to Ease GI Discomfort
Have a dose of liquid antacid for heartburn and belching.Purchase a liquid antacid that does not contain sodium bicarbonate at your local pharmacy. Follow the proper dosing instructions on the packaging or those given by your doctor. Ask your doctor or the pharmacist any questions about what antacids you can take. This can ensure that you get relief from GI symptoms.
Consider an antiemetic for nausea.If you have serious nausea or vomiting, check with your doctor about taking an antiemetic. These drugs can ease nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, as well as any heartburn or discomfort that accompany them.
- Speak to your doctor about how often you can safely take an antiemetic to relieve your nausea and vomiting.
- Take antiemetics only under your doctor’s advisement, as some drugs are unsafe during pregnancy. Your doctor can determine, which medications make sense given your stage of pregnancy and symptoms.
Use a stool softener.Talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter stool softener for constipation. Read product labels to identify stool softeners with sodium docusate. These can help release your bowels without potentially harmful side effects. Some stool softeners to avoid include:
- Stimulant laxatives.
- Castor oil.
- Mineral oil.
Avoid or limit NSAID use.Talk to your doctor about alternative pain relievers or ways to limit NSAID use during your pregnancy. These drugs, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can irritate and cause dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease, or reflux. They can also cause adverse effects on your baby before and after delivery.
QuestionWhy is there a blood in my poop?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt could be for a number of reasons. It is best to see a doctor to know for sure.Thanks!
Video: Nutrition in GI Disorders - Nancee Jaffe, MS, RD | UCLA Digestive Disease
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