When you are a woman of children-bearing age who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you might be asking yourself: how will pregnancy affect my IBS? Or: how will I deal with IBS during pregnancy?
I asked myself the exact same question. Actually, I was kind of sure that I knew the answer, too. In my head, I would never have an easy, glamorous pregnancy. Instead, I’d feel miserable all the time, because that’s just how my IBS reacts to changes.
But things don’t always work out as expected. And today, I’m going to give you all the details about my experience with pregnancy and IBS!
The first trimester: a hard time for pregnancy and IBS
Overall, the first trimester was definitely the hardest one. At the very beginning of my pregnancy, my IBS-D went crazy. I had flare-ups all the time. No energy at all. It was exactly as bad as I thought.
The good news is: that didn’t last. The bad flare-ups accompanied me from week 4 to week 6. Then, they eventually got replaced but nausea.
At first, I still had both: pregnancy nausea and IBS-flare-ups. It was like a stomach bug, only it didn’t end after 24 hours. Then, slowly, the IBS attacks subsided and the nausea intensified.
For around three weeks, I could barely get out of bed. I was able to eat only white bread with nothing on it, as well as fruit. All the other foods made me throw up as soon as I looked at them. Or smelled them. Literally.
But: my IBS was doing better. So, I guess I can be grateful for that!
As my first trimester progressed, the nausea slowly decreased, until I was able to eat my first meal at around 11 weeks pregnant. The IBS flare-ups did not come back.
The second trimester: when pregnancy symptoms and IBS took a vacation together
The second trimester was undeniably the easiest one, concerning both pregnancy symptoms and IBS. Actually, both kind of disappeared when I was 4 months pregnant.
I wasn’t nauseous anymore (although some food aversions persisted). The pregnancy constipation that tends to occur during this time cancelled out my IBS-D, so my digestive system finally functioned like that of a normal human being.
Even though I was still tired, I did not have to sleep 12 hours a day anymore. All I had to deal with during this time was some extra fatigue, a growing belly and a bit of bloating. It was like taking a vacation from IBS!
After two months, I had almost forgotten how anxious I used to get about IBS flare-ups. I didn’t have to get up 3 hours before leaving the house anymore, either. My IBS symptoms were almost gone, and that felt amazing.
The third trimester: an abundance in symptoms
Once the third trimester rolled around, pregnancy kicked IBS in the butt. I still did not have IBS flare-ups, but my digestion got more and more messed up.
As the baby grew, it started compressing my lungs, my stomach, my bowels. Not only was I getting super tired again, but I could barely go up the stairs without instantly being out of breath. And my digestion got weird, too.
It wasn’t like IBS flare-ups during pregnancy. It was more like pregnancy taking over what IBS had done before.
I felt more and more bloated after meals. Sometimes, I would randomly get stomach aches although I didn’t eat anything wrong. Once in awhile, digestion got so painful that I could barely stand up straight – especially when I hadn’t been to the loo in a while.
However, I don’t think that any of that was related to IBS. I didn’t have any diarrhoea during this time of pregnancy, but more of a feeling that my bowels did not have enough room to properly digest my food.
Overall, the third trimester is definitely not an easy time. But I don’t think that that’s related to IBS. Basically, you just can’t feel normal when you’ve got a bowling ball for a stomach!
Pregnancy and IBS: a conclusion
If I had to sum up my experience with pregnancy as an IBS sufferer, I would say that it was great. Sure, there were around three difficult weeks IBS-wise, but that’s nothing compared to the 6 IBS-free months that followed.
For me, IBS was basically non-existent for the majority of my pregnancy. And since I had a pretty easy pregnancy overall, I was able to enjoy that break from IBS!
As for the other digestive symptoms, I believe that they don’t have much to do with IBS. After doing a bunch of research, they seem to be rather common in perfectly healthy women, too.
The bottom line is: pregnancy may not be easy, but I don’t think that IBS makes it any harder!
Now, as I’m writing this, I still have to go through the giving birth part. And I do have nightmares about having an IBS flare during delivery! But I’ll keep you posted about that experience. If you’re interested, that is!
Let me know if you found this post helpful, and if you’ve had any experience with pregnancy and IBS! And please share it on social media if you liked it. 🙂