alt=a person pulls the waistband of too-big shorts out to show the gap needed for their sensitive stomach.

Sensitive Stomach – A Byproduct Of IBS?

I’ve known for a while that I can’t stand having my belly constricted. That’s why I’ve always avoided tight waistbands, pants without stretch, and even sucking in – all of these just make me feel plain miserable. But I’ve never noticed just how sensitive my stomach was until my grandma decided to gift me pajamas for Christmas.

Now, I personally don’t consider pajamas to be investment pieces and have just been using hand-me-downs from my mom, who loves buying new PJs. I’m one or two sizes smaller than my mom, and I’ve always enjoyed how comfy and non-constricting those hand-me-downs were.

My grandma, however, bought my regular size, which fits me perfectly. Unfortunately, it also upsets my stomach within minutes.

My stomach is the weak link

I think that lots of people have "weak links" when it comes to their health. A friend of mine always gets migraines whenever she forgoes her routine. Another friend catches every cold there is within a 1-mile radius. For me, it’s always been my digestive system.

When I was younger, I was sick to my stomach every single morning. I regularly threw up before school or even in school. It got especially bad when I didn’t sleep enough or when I was nervous or stressed. Basically, it was just like my IBS-D now. Only the food came out the other way.

Now, I still catch every stomach flu. And no matter what sickness I get, it always affects my digestion. For example, I always throw up and get diarrhea when I have a fever. Or a migraine. I got mastitis while breastfeeding – which has nothing at all to do with digestion – and I was still throwing up.

But it’s not just that. My stomach is so incredibly sensitive that I apparently cannot bear to wear normal-sized clothing on it, either.

Going up multiple sizes

This pajama incident really got me thinking. It made me realize just how much IBS affects my life, even the way I dress. Most of my clothes (especially bottoms) are at least one size bigger than I would otherwise need, a lot of them even two or three sizes bigger. I buy jeans, shorts, and skirts in a medium or large when I could definitely fit into a small. I never use belts because what’s the point when my bloated belly does a perfectly fine job at keeping my pants in place?

My partner sometimes complains that I always buy my clothes too big. That I never emphasize my waist – which, on the very rare occasion when I’m not bloated, actually exists – without realizing that I physically cannot bear to wear clothes that are "my size." I recently even started wearing lower-rise pants again because it’s just more comfortable for my belly.

And it’s not like "normal"-sized clothing is all that tight on me. But as long as something presses on my belly, ever so lightly, it hurts after a while. The waistbands I wear basically just stand next to me, which is why I always tuck in my shirts, so they actually stay up. (Tucked-in shirts add a bit of cushion, too!)

Pressure on my stomach is unbearable

It’s not just clothes, either. I can’t have anything pressing on my belly. Whenever I babywear, my stomach starts complaining right away. After giving birth, I tried to use a belly band, but we can all imagine how long that lasted (like 3 minutes). As of now, I’m just glad that women nowadays aren’t required to wear a corset because I would have been doomed.

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It goes so far that whenever I’m bloated, I can’t even sleep on my stomach but have to turn to the side instead, which is very hard for me, being a notorious stomach sleeper!

I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of IBS, but I feel like it is. I know that I never used to size up before, even though my digestive system has always been very sensitive. I also don’t remember getting as terribly bloated when I was younger since I often wore tighter clothing, and it never bothered me.

The strange part is that my stomach is always sensitive, even when I do not have any symptoms. I could be feeling great, but put a tight waistband on me, and I’ll get uncomfortable in no time.

Does anyone else experience this? If yes, please let me know if you have any tips!

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