Constipation, Diarrhea & Gas
Q. I am six weeks pregnant and suffering from terrible constipation. It has been 13 days since I had a bowel movement and nothing the doctor has suggested has worked. I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) with constipation last year and now nothing is working for me. I am in pain and I already look like I am three months pregnant due to my distended belly. Help! Any suggestions? I'm miserable.
-Anonymous, New York
A. Constipation during pregnancy is due to the fact that a mother's body draws and retains more fluids for the growing baby, placenta and amniotic fluid, therefore making the stool dry. You can try to conquer colon dehydration by drinking more liquids, but then you run the risk of increasing the already way-too-frequent urination problem.
One trick that worked for my sister, who also has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), is to drink two tablespoons of olive oil a day and then take a brisk walk.
I've also been told that one of the best ways to conquer constipation is to answer the call of nature right away. Don't wait even for a minute or you may miss your window of opportunity. We ladies like to plan our poops, preferably at a time when we are alone in our own homes. Don't you agree? Having to duck into the restroom at the supermarket and emerge several minutes later with a stink in tow can make you appear less than ladylike, but it works. I have to warn you, there are many more of these types of episodes ahead, so get used to it, dahlink!
Q. I have bad diarrhea and am 24 weeks pregnant. Is that normal?
-Sara, New York
A. Yep. Diarrhea is one of those pregnancy symptoms that can come and go and come again. I had my first bad bouts of diarrhea around week ten of both of my pregnancies. It lasted for several weeks, got my hemorrhoids in an uproar and then disappeared until week thirty.
There's not much you can do about this symptom, but you might try to avoid overeating or consuming rich foods on an empty stomach, and use plenty of flushable wipes to help stave off the hemorrhoids.
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Q. I am almost nine weeks pregnant. During the first month of my pregnancy I had severe abdominal pain off and on throughout the day and night. If I passed gas or had a bowel movement, the pain usually would go away. I also have changed my diet since I found out I was pregnant. My belly aches have now been gone for a month, but I am so afraid of having an abnormal pregnancy. My doctor doesn't know what caused my severe pain the first month. I was not bleeding at all; I just had the bad belly aches off and on. What do you think?
A. If your abdominal pain was relieved, even a little, by passing gas or feces, then it was probably just painful gas that you experienced. Believe me, this is very normal during pregnancy. I remember having such severe cases of it that I was afraid to eat. Sometimes I felt like I would actually pass out from the gas pain.
The horror-mones of pregnancy can affect a newly-pregnant body in all kinds of ways, including triggering the over- or under-production of stomach acids that can lead to painful gas. I wouldn't worry. I think your prior belly aches will have no adverse effects on you or your baby.
Q. I had a miscarriage in April at 10 weeks, and I am now pregnant again (four weeks). I'm experiencing the same severe cramping at night as in my first pregnancy. The cramps are menstrual-like and have woken me up twice at night. I am not spotting and did eat a little ice cream, so this may be digestion-related because I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The pains feel more like a uterine contraction, but ease off after 5-10 minutes. Is this a possible sign of miscarriage again?
A. If you are not spotting or bleeding, then you are probably experiencing gas pains. Combined with IBS, the horror-mones of pregnancy can really tie your stomach in knots. I remember having such bad gas pains during my second pregnancy that I thought I would pass out. See the other "gas" questions for more details.
Q. I had a miscarriage this week. I went to the hospital and had a D&C. Now I am constipated. Is this normal? The last time I had a bowel movement was Tuesday, right before I miscarried. Today is Sunday.
A. Unless it goes on for weeks, I wouldn't worry about your constipation problem. Any kind of surgery, including a D&C, can stall the body's digestion. I suspect the main culprit for your constipation is probably a painkiller you may be taking. Any kind of pain medication containing codeine can freeze up your bowels like cement in a lead pipe. Even days after the last dose, constipation may still linger. (See the other constipation questions for suggestions on how to unclog your pipes.)