Pregnancy and IBS-D: The First Trimester Experience
Last updated: February 2020
If you’re a woman who has never had children before, you might be wondering: How would my IBS react to getting pregnant? Would it get better? Worse?
For me, getting pregnant definitely scared me in that sense. Especially since I’ve been hearing that pregnancy can mess up your digestion all on its own. I feared that it would make my IBS symptoms a million times worse, cause constant flare-ups, and other nice things like that.
So, for all of you fellow girls wondering about the same thing, here is my experience with IBS-D and pregnancy in the first trimester. I still have to live through the rest.
The flare-up phase
I’m not exactly sure why, but in the first month of my pregnancy, my IBS-D got SO much worse. Just imagine having a terrible flare-up – one that forces you to stay in bed for hours, squirming in pain, only to be interrupted every 5 minutes by your diarrhea that needs you to go to the bathroom, now.
Oh, did I mention that became just a normal morning for me? During that time, a couple of friends came to visit us, and I just couldn’t deal with that. I was so tired; so exhausted from all the IBS symptoms I had every morning. Not to mention, I was extremely embarrassed and anxious about everything I ate.
The food dilemma
Speaking of food, that quickly became a problem, too. Normally, I have a couple of safe foods I go back to in difficult times. One of the major ones being sushi. But, oh hey, you can’t have that when you’re pregnant!
The list my doctor gave me containing all the foods I wasn’t supposed to eat just made it that much harder to find stuff to put in my body. That is until the nausea phase of my pregnancy-IBS-experience settled in.
The nausea phase
During my second month of pregnancy, I slowly started getting more and more nauseous. At first, this was combined with the flare-ups I described before, which basically made me feel like I had the stomach flu. Thankfully, the flare-ups subsided pretty quickly after that.
With my nausea getting worse and worse over the course of 2 weeks, I basically stopped eating. Everything smelled gross. My food aversions covered every meal ever invented. And the only thing that I was able to put in my mouth was fruit and white bread.
Now, these usually aren’t safe foods for me at all. Bread causes acne for me, and fruit triggers my IBS when I consume too much. But for some reason, it was okay. Except for the acne, but at that point, I just didn’t care.
While my stomach was struggling with all the hormones, my IBS calmed down quite a bit. However, I have noticed after doing a bit of research that nausea hit me pretty hard compared to other people. Maybe because my digestive system is super sensitive? Thankfully, this phase only lasted about 3 weeks. And then came the honeymoon phase.
The honeymoon phase
Did you ever hear that pregnancy causes constipation? I’ve read that everywhere. Only it would seem that when you have IBS-D, this “pregnancy constipation” actually means that you go to the bathroom like a normal person. Not 6 times a day.
For a month, I lived like a human being who doesn’t suffer from IBS. I didn’t have my usual morning episodes. I wasn’t scared about having a flare-up all the time. And while I did still need to plan ahead for bathrooms outside of the house, it was only because I constantly needed to pee - which is just a common pregnancy symptom.
To that, I just want to add that I never stopped avoiding trigger foods and generally ate similarly to the way I ate before pregnancy. I suppose that if I stopped being so careful, my IBS-D would flare up again.
Now, supposedly, this constipation phase might stick around for a while. Does this mean that I’ll be IBS-free for the months to come? I don’t know yet. I’m just at the beginning.
But I wanted to write this article for all of you who might be scared about the effects of pregnancy on IBS-D. In my personal experience, it’s not all bad! Who would have thought that all these changes might actually help my IBS-D?
Do you suffer from IBS-C, IBS-D, or IBS-Mixed/Alternating?