IBS During Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

5 min read

Written by Suma rp

Suma rp

IBS during pregnancy

Pregnancy brings on a sea of challenges; some you might never expect. While most pregnant women are mentally ready to face digestive issues, food intolerances, and new allergies, what about IBS during pregnancy? Yes, the changes in your hormones during pregnancy can lead to various gastrointestinal symptoms including IBS.

While digestive issues are very common during pregnancy, IBS is more serious. One cannot take IBS in pregnancy very lightly. It can make it very difficult to retain food and receive the essential nutrition for a healthy and safe pregnancy. Unfortunately, you cannot predict or prevent IBS during pregnancy, but, you can always understand the causes and learn to manage it.

In This Article

What is IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is a common gastrointestinal issue that is recurring in nature. Many people, suffer from IBS at various phases in their lives. While some experience severe symptoms, some experience mild symptoms that might flare up when they consume certain foods.

If you already have IBS, it can flare up during pregnancy, due to the various hormonal changes happening in your body. This does not mean every pregnant woman with IBS will suffer more, it just increases the chances.

What Are the Causes of IBS During Pregnancy?

standing woman hands on abdomen

Pregnancy causes a lot of hormonal changes in your body. It is common knowledge that pregnant women are at a higher risk of indigestion and constipation. If you already have IBS, the hormone changes can increase your bloating, gas formation, or constipation. Even if you don’t have IBS, gastrointestinal issues are very common during pregnancy.

Some of the common causes of IBS are

  • An issue with the digestive system
  • A bacterial or viral infection
  • Change in gut microbes
  • Contractions of intestine muscles
  • Stress

Common Symptoms of IBS During Pregnancy

It is easy to mistake IBS for a regular digestive issue and miss treating it in time. Some of the common symptoms of IBS to watch out for when you are pregnant are

  • Stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

You may experience any of the above or even a combination of these symptoms after you consume certain foods. It means that particular food is irritating your bowel.

Diagnosis of IBS During Pregnancy

pregnant woman doctor

There are no specific tests for IBS. If you exhibit classic IBS symptoms, your doctor will take tests to rule out various other issues. They will confirm IBS by ruling out other possible health issues with similar symptoms.

Once they narrow down the symptoms to indicate IBS, your doctor can suggest various tests to identify what type of IBS you have and what categories of food affect you. This helps them narrow down the remedies and treatments to help bring your IBS under control.

Treatments Options For IBS During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is already challenging. Eating the right food, and doing the right things to protect and nurture the fetus can be more challenging when you have food restrictions. If you are pregnant and suffering from IBS, you are bound to try almost anything to get your IBS under control, without affecting the baby.

Here are some ways in which you can treat your IBS when you are pregnant

1. Check Your Diet

What you eat has a direct impact on your IBS. Maintaining a food journal with details of your food intake and your body’s reaction to them can help figure out what suits you and what doesn’t. It can also help you come up with a well-balanced diet during pregnancy.

2. Check Your Medications

Medicines during pregnancy are meant to help you, not worsen an existing condition. Some medicines can interfere with the way your digestive system works. If you notice your IBS is getting worse after starting some medications, let your doctor know.

3. Maintain Usual Techniques

With your past IBS experience, you are bound to have come up with some managing strategies or techniques like avoiding certain foods, combating symptoms with certain changes in diet, etc. When you are pregnant and your IBS seems to be flaring up, resort to similar techniques.

4. More Fibre

Fibre helps improve digestion. Soluble and insoluble fibres have different effects on your digestive system. Experiment with different types of fibre and see how your body reacts to it. Increase, decrease, or find a suitable combination to help with your IBS.

[Read : Fiber Rich Foods During Pregnancy]

5. Sufficient Nutrition

If you are following any specific diet to combat your IBS, ensure you are not missing out on important nutrition. Consult your and your prenatal caregiver to find out what nutrients are important and which food sources can give them to you. You may have to find a balance to ensure your body receives all the important nutrients without triggering your IBS.

6. Probiotics

Yogurt and curds are high in probiotics, which can help combat IBS. If you are considering probiotics in the form of capsules, consume them only after consulting your doctor.

7. Exercise

Last but never least, start moving. Exercising during pregnancy has innumerable benefits. Physical movement can have a big impact on your digestive system. Exercising and moving can help smoothen your digestion and help you manage IBS during pregnancy without too many medicines.

[Read : Why is Exercising a Good Idea During Pregnancy?]

Top 5 Home Remedies For IBS During Pregnancy

woman drinking water

When pregnant, not many prefer over-the-counter medications. Many women want to avoid as many medicines as possible. Majority of the pregnant women resort to home remedies for any ailments during pregnancy. As IBS is related to your food intake and how your body responds to it, you can try the following home remedies

  • Eat more fiber-rich foods
  • Reduce consumption of dairy products
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise
  • Reduce stress

Complications of IBS in Pregnancy

While digestive issues are quite common in pregnancy, IBS in pregnancy is a little more serious. Some complications you may experience due to IBS during your pregnancy are

  • Severe or constant diarrhea can lead to dehydration
  • Malabsorption
  • The fetus does not get the required nutrients
  • Uterine muscles weaken due to severe diarrhea 
  • Preterm labor
  • Miscarriage

[Read : How To Handle Dehydration During Pregnancy?]

When to See a Doctor?

If you have IBS during pregnancy, you cannot dismiss your symptoms casually. You need to visit a doctor if you notice or experience the following

  • If your diarrhea is severe and does not stop for days
  • If your abdominal pain suddenly becomes worse
  • If you feel very uncomfortable
  • You notice mucus in your stools
  • If any of your symptoms seem to worsen

IBS in pregnancy can be harmless but can get serious very quickly if left unchecked. If you are suffering from IBS in pregnancy, keep a close watch on your health and symptoms, to take necessary steps without any delay. With timely remedies and alterations in the diet, IBS in pregnancy can be managed.


1. Does IBS Affect the Baby During Pregnancy?

Frequent episodes of diarrhea or following extreme diet restrictions can affect the nutrition reaching your baby. This in turn can affect the growth and development of the baby.

2. Is IBS Linked to Miscarriage?

Diarrhea is a common symptom and effect of IBS. If you do not manage severe diarrhea in time, it can lead to dehydration, and muscle weakness, which in turn can affect your pregnancy and even lead to preterm labor or miscarriage.

Read Also: Diarrhea During Pregnancy

Suma rp,M.Sc (Organic Chemistry) Rayalaseema University B.Sc (Biotechnology) Sri Krishna Devaraya University.

Suma is a passionate content writer with a strong keenness to understand the miracle of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. Suma has successfully transitioned into a full-time content writer and a key contributor at Being The Parent. She leverages on her experimental background in chemistry and experience in writing to come up with well-researched content that helps parents struggling to deal with various medical conditions of their children.Read more.

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