Stomach and Bowel Symptoms (GI Symptons) Explained

A. Nausea and vomiting

Usually in the first trimester, nausea and vomiting can continue throughout your pregnancy. These upsetting symptoms and their treatment are covered in the previous section of the book.

B. Diarrhea/stomach flu

Go on a Liquid diet: water, Gatorade®, bananas, tea and broth. Avoid solid foods, eggs and fried foods

C. Constipation

Try eating more fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. Do a little more walking. If these measures are not helping you, you can try stool softeners such a Colace, Surfak© or generic DSS (decosate sodium).

Laxatives such Miralax®, Dulcolax® and milk of magnesia are safe. There is a natural “slow down” in your regular bowel movement due to the pregnancy: the pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes smooth muscle activity in your intestinal walls such that intestinal contractility is slowed down. Again, eating plenty of fiber (vegetables and fruit plus fluids) will help counteract this tendency.

D. Heartburn

Heartburn is a very common problem during pregnancy. It makes its appearance in the 2nd trimester just as the nausea of pregnancy is leaving. Many patients claim they “live on antacids and Tums.” The muscle that prevents food from “refluxing” back from the stomach into the esophagus becomes relaxed during the mid-trimester. There are a number of suggestions for help:

1. Do not eat late in the evening or go to bed shortly after the evening meal.
2. Avoid spicy foods (cayenne and other peppers) and other foods that you find cause “your heartburn. “
3. Antacids such as Maalox®, Tums® and Mylanta® are soothing. Try to reserve Zantac®, Pepcid AC® and Prevacid® when antacids are not totally effective.

E. "Gas"

“Gas” (flatulence) in the intestines is seldom the only symptom a pregnant patient may experience. Most gas is related to diet: bean products, cabbages, etc. Digestion of these types of vegetables causes the production of various gases as by-products. Gas expands the intestinal tract. Bloating and an uncomfortable fullness may be felt by the already pregnant patient. OTC products with simethicone (Gas-X,© Mylicon©) can provide some relief.


Bowel Disorders during Pregnancy Are Common but these Moms are taking these disorders in Stride

Summary of Article Posted by Carolyn Buchanan May 22, 2013

a. About 72 percent of women in their first trimester experience constipation, diarrhea bloating, or irritable bowel syndrome.
b. The majority of women will experience some type of elimination irregularity.
c. Only 4.4 percent of women stated that constipation interfered with their lives. Bloating was a quality of life changer for another 4 percent. Not bad, when you consider how ubiquitous the symptoms are.
Underlying Causes: Increased progesterone levels produced by the placenta relax smooth muscles in the intestines. As a result, peristalsis is inhibited and food by-products take longer to travel through the intestinal tract. Prenatal Vitamins, calcium, and iron supplements taken during pregnancy further aggravate constipation.

Practical solutions to constipation are as follows:
- Increase your fiber intake. Most pregnant women consume only 16 to 17 grams of fiber per day. It is recommended that pregnant women increase their fiber consumption up to 25 to 30 grams per day.
- Eat more frequently with smaller amounts of food at one time.
- Increase fluid intake.
- Try to have regular bowel movements at given time of day.
- Be active! — Physical activity has a reflex stimulation.
- Consume Probiotics such as Culturelle, active yeast yogurts, etc.