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Pregnancy and Constipation Predominant IBS (IBS-C)

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Updated October 20, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Very little research has been conducted regarding the effect of pregnancy on the symptoms of constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C). However, since constipation is a symptom experienced by many pregnant women, there are some guidelines that you can follow to address your symptoms without putting your developing baby at risk:

Fiber Is Key

The safest way to manage the symptoms of IBS-C when you are pregnant is through dietary means, specifically through increasing your intake of fiber. This increase in fiber should result in more frequent bowel movements, as well as softer stools that are easier to pass. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods.

Laxative Safety

Before using any product to ease your constipation, it is essential to get clearance from your obstetrician. Caster and mineral oils should be avoided. Your doctor may recommend a fiber supplement, also known as a bulk laxative. As for the other types of laxatives available (osmotics, stimulants, and stool softeners), some have been shown to be effective and safe in pregnancy, but only if used on an infrequent basis. Your doctor is in the best position to advise you as to which product is safe for your body and to give direction as to how often the product can be used.

Consider a Stress Management Option

Psychotherapy and other stress management techniques offer the advantage of easing symptoms without any safety concerns for your developing baby. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy have both been shown to be effective treatments for IBS. Yoga and meditation may also help to reduce stress and potentially ease your symptoms.

Helpful Reading:

Sources:

Hasler, W. "The irritable bowel syndrome during pregnancy" Gastroenterology Clinics of North America 2003 32:385-406.

Heitkemper, M. "Pregnancy and Irritable Bowel Syndrome". International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder Fact Sheet. Accessed February 6, 2010.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

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