IBS During Pregnancy
Could irritable bowel syndrome put baby at risk? Answers your biggest questions about IBS during pregnancy.
What is irritable bowel syndrome during pregnancy?
Irritable bowel syndrome, also called IBS, is a digestive disorder in which you consistently get abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
What are the signs of IBS during pregnancy?
All of the above symptoms. Some people also notice mucus in their stools.
Are there any tests for IBS during pregnancy?
Yes and no. There’s no test to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, but there are tests to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. A colonoscopy or fecal occult blood test, for instance, might be ordered to rule out bleeding in the intestinal tract.
Irritable bowel syndrome is usually diagnosed based on how frequent your symptoms are and how long they last. Constipation is common, especially among pregnant women. But if you find that you go back and forth between constipation and diarrhea and have nonpregnancy-related abdominal pain three or more days a month, you might have IBS.
How common is IBS?
Up to 20 percent of Americans have IBS. It’s more common in women than in men.
How did I get IBS?
No one knows what causes IBS. Doctors think it might be related to neurotransmitters in the gastrointestinal tract or bacterial infection. In some people, certain foods seem to trigger an extreme reaction of the digestive system.
How will my IBS affect my baby?
“As long as a woman doesn’t have such severe instances of diarrhea that she’s not getting good absorption of nutrients, IBS shouldn’t really have much of an impact on the pregnancy,” says Rebecca Kolp, MD, an ob-gyn at Massachusetts General Hospital. (See next page for treatment tips.)