Digestive Problems During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is almost never what you expect it to be. For some women it is so easy that they literally feel no different than they normally do. For others, it is so difficult that they end up needing hospitalization. Every pregnancy is different, but there are some common tummy-trouble complaints that you may not be too comfortable talking about. We’re going to go over a few of them now:  

  1. Constipation: It may sound counterintuitive, but constipation during pregnancy is often best handled without the use of a laxative, as they tend to drain the nutrients from the system and can be harmful to the unborn child. Most of the digestive problems during pregnancy begin as constipation, likely because the high levels of certain hormones relax the muscles of the bowels, which makes it incredibly hard for them to function normally. Also, as the uterus grows, it presses on the bowel and can block normal function as well.
    The best way to deal with constipation is to avoid getting it in the first place by making sure you are getting enough fluid and fiber in your diet and by limited sugar and processed foods. Are you already constipated and not sure how to fix it? When in doubt, work it out! Exercise can keep you (and your bowels) in shape and allow things to function normally. Fruit juices like prune, plum apple or pineapple juice can also help get things moving.
  2. Gassiness: It’s embarrassing, it’s not very “ladylike” and it’s quite common during pregnancy. The problem of excessive flatulence is generally caused by a buildup of gas in the large intestine. The problem of excessive belching is generally caused by a buildup of gas in the stomach that needs to be released. Both can be inconvenient and a bit embarrassing, but both can also be avoided with a bit of effort. Firstly, it’s important not to let yourself get constipated. Secondly, avoid foods such as beans, onions, fried food, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These foods are known not only to cause gas, but to cause flatulence that is particularly offensive.
  3. Indigestion and Heartburn: Indigestion and heartburn are very common both in and out of pregnancy. Generally, if you were susceptible to it before your pregnancy, you’re likely to continue suffering with it during gestation. Some people believe this is a sign that the baby is going to be born with a full head of hair, but there is no research to confirm this old wives tale. Preventing heartburn and indigestion generally requires figuring out what your triggers are – which can be a difficult  task in itself. For most of our patients, acidic foods like tomato sauce seem to trigger some strong attacks. Sleeping upright or with some pillows propping you up can help alleviate heartburn and indigestion during the night.

Indigestion is common when it happens occasionally. However, repeated or chronic attacks can be a sign of a more serious underlying issue. H. Pylori infections can cause chronic indigestion, ulcers, and in some cases may even lead to stomach cancer. If you are struggling with chronic heartburn or indigestion, schedule an appointment to be tested for H. Pylori. The sooner treatment begins, the sooner we can eliminate or reduce your digestive struggles.

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