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5 Common Digestive Complaints During Pregnancy

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pregnancy brings common digestive complaints Liliia Rudchenko/Photospin

So much joy, so many worries, so many bodily changes -- your growing belly notwithstanding.

It’s a no-brainer that the stages of pregnancy present a number of challenges, especially in the area of physical health.

In the beginning, you are likely to contend with morning sickness and in later stages you might have concerns about gestational diabetes, to name just a couple of examples.

Many physical complaints, though, center on the everyday workings of the digestive system.

Here are five common gastrointestinal complaints shared by women in various stages of pregnancy:

1) Heartburn, or acid indigestion

Pregnancy and heartburn go hand-in-hand for two reasons, said the website FitPregnancy.

The first is the presence of the hormone relaxin, which slows your digestion. The longer food stays in the stomach, the more acid gets produced. The second reason is that your growing belly is exerting pressure on the stomach and lower esophageal sphincter, priming you for acid reflux.

One tip to try:

Add more soups, smoothies, yogurt, puddings and other soft, liquid-like foods to your diet because they tend to move through your digestive system quicker.

2) Gas and bloating

The surge of the hormone progesterone is relaxing smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including the gastrointestinal tract. A big meal might take a long time to digest, leading to flatulence, burping and other discomforts.

One tip to try:

Besides keeping a food diary to determine which foods are causing gas, try using wheat bran for added fiber in your diet, suggests BabyCenter.com. Wheat bran is a good insoluble fiber that speeds up the passage of food through your gastrointestinal tract.

3) Constipation

Pregnancy hormones and pressure on the intestinal tract are partly to blame, but it might also be that an “eating for two” mentality has loosened your resolve to eat nutritiously and in proper portions.

One tip to try:

Make sure you are getting enough exercise, the kind that you are comfortable with, as your pregnancy progresses. Good choices include walking and yoga.

4) Hemorrhoids

With the increasing pressure in your abdomen, veins in the lower rectum and anus sometimes swell and become inflamed, bringing on symptoms like itching, pain and blood in the stool.

The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse says that chances are, hemorrhoid discomfort will go away after childbirth. But if it regularly bothers you or causes excessive bleeding, the area needs to be examined by a doctor.

One tip to try:

Eat more fiber through a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains or try an over-the-counter fiber supplement that is safe for use during pregnancy.

5) Frequent urination

Not only is the weight of the baby putting pressure on your bladder, but also your blood volume is increasing, making your kidneys work harder. Constant trips to the bathroom? You might just have to live with it.

One tip to try:

Caffeine might be contributing to the problem; try cutting back to one or two cups of coffee or tea a day.

Throughout your pregnancy, it is vital to express any concerns about your digestive tract, the foods you are eating and your overall well-being to your obstetrician or family doctor.

Symptoms that might seem merely bothersome at first can escalate into bigger issues, and when you are carrying another life, the stakes are too high to ignore those symptoms.


“Hemorrhoids.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 20 August 2012.

“Constipation.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 20 August 2012.

“5 strategies to relieve pregnancy-induced heartburn.” FitPregnancy.com. Web. 20 August 2012.

“Common Physical Changes During Pregnancy.” HealthyWomen.org. Web. 20 August 2012.

“10 icky pregnancy side effects.” BabyCenter.com. Web. 20 August 2012.

“Gas and bloating during pregnancy.” BabyCenter.com. Web. 20 August 2012.

Reviewed August 21, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments


Oh the joys of pregnancy *LOL* All of these things happened to me as well. Good write up with good tips.

Marielaina Perrone DDS
Henderson Dentist

October 11, 2012 - 7:30am
EmpowHER Guest

When I was pregnant I had ALL of these and more, LOL!
There is a lot of good information from the Medical Team at the Puristat Digestive Wellness Center here including:

> A great list of foods to avoid for bloating and constipation
> A full color stool color chart to help diagnose common issues
> Diet tips to lose weight quickly & safely

www.puristat.com <----- Check Them Out!

August 22, 2012 - 6:27am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.