Tips to Manage Pregnancy related Gastrointestinal issues

Pregnancy is the most unexceptional moment in a woman’s life with a rollercoaster of emotions. As a baby grows, the body of a pregnant woman will change constantly thereby causing various gastrointestinal issues. Also, you may have a strong desire for all of the world’s delectable meals and go insane over them, but limiting your taste buds for a few months and being extra careful with your diet can be good for you and your child. Keep reading to find more details about common gastrointestinal issues during pregnancy and also some tips to manage it.

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How does your digestion change during pregnancy?

Pregnancy can give tremendous pressure to the digestive system of a woman. As the baby develops, it may press the oesophagus, stomach as well as intestine. This can result in digestive issues. Also, the elevation of pregnancy hormones including oestrogen and progesterone can impact digestion and cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea or vomiting, frequent burping, acid reflux, bloating, constipation. Every trimester brings about a variety of physical changes, many of which might affect the gastrointestinal system.

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Gastrointestinal issues1st Trimester2nd Trimester3rd Trimester
Morning sickness
Acid reflux
Food cravings
Food sensitivities
Upper GI pain
Gall stones 

Although these are general symptoms, each person may experience them differently depending on their hormones and diet.

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Tips for managing the symptoms of pregnancy related gastrointestinal issues

Here are some common pregnancy related gastrointestinal issues and also some of the tips to manage the symptoms:

1.Morning sickness

Around 8 out of 10 pregnant women are dealing with morning sickness. It can cause nausea or vomiting as well as upset stomach.  Although the exact cause is unclear, experts believe that hormonal shifts are to blame.

Tips to manage morning sickness

  • Drink plenty of water. Sip water on a regular basis to avoid being dehydrated.
  • Try ginger, sour candies and mint 
  • Consume little low-fat and high-carb meals frequently
  • Eliminate nausea triggering foods and odours
  • Sleep more (Tiredness can increase the vomiting sensation)

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2. Diarrhea

Early pregnancy diarrhea and watery stool are frequently brought on by food changes and also hormonal shifts. Pregnancy raises the oxytocin hormone levels, which causes the digestive tract to contract more and function quickly.

Tips to manage diarrhea

  • Drink plenty of water. Sip water on a regular basis to avoid being dehydrated.
  • Add probiotics and prebiotics in your diet to improve the gut health and digestion
  • Try banana, buttermilk, boiled potato and rice water.
  • Avoid fried or spicy foods and limit dairy foods.

Also check, Home remedies for diarrhea

3. Constipation

Constipation is a very common problem during pregnancy. This can be caused due to the pressure in the intestine. As the baby develops, the progesterone hormone levels will significantly increase which leads to delay in the movement of intestines and constipation.

Tips to manage constipation

  • Increase the fluid intake 
  • Consume fibre rich foods like vegetables, sprouts and fruits
  • Include probiotic foods in your diet
  • Include simple physical exercises like walking in your routine

Also check, Fibre rich foods to prevent constipation

4. Acid reflux

Up to half of pregnant women will experience acid reflux when they reach their third trimester. Due to pregnancy-related hormonal imbalances,  the muscle between the oesophagus and stomach relaxes throughout pregnancy. Also, the pressure on the stomach also grows as the uterus expands. Acid reflux is likely to occur because of these issues.

Tips to manage acid reflux or heartburn

  • Instead of eating three full meals, eat small meals when you are hungry.
  • Don’t eat quickly
  • Avoid fried or spicy foods 
  • Don’t consume citrus fruits or juice.
  • Restrict your caffeine (coffee or tea) intake.

Also check, Home remedies for acid reflux

5. Bloating

Hormonal changes during pregnancy are one potential reason for bloating. As a result of the womb’s relaxation caused by pregnancy hormones, digestion is slowed. Bloating can be frequently associated with frequent belching and constipation.

Tips to manage bloating

  • Increase the fluid intake 
  • Consume fibre rich foods like vegetables, sprouts and fruits
  • Include probiotic foods in your diet
  • Avoid drinking fizzy drinks
  • Avoid gassy foods (some millets and legumes)

Also check, Foods that cause bloating

Foods that help to manage gastrointestinal issues

1.Probiotic foods

Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, which helps in strengthening the digestive tract and also promotes gut health. It is high in protein, calcium, vitamins and also probiotics which can enhance the good bacteria in the gut. Yogurt is the best food for gut health.

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Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt that is made from kefir grains, which are high in good bacteria. The process of making is similar to yogurt, but the fermentation process in Kefir is for 24 hours. The result is not a sour curd, but rather a tasty one. You can also load it up with nuts, seeds and also berries to make a shake high in antioxidants, probiotics and prebiotics.

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People have been using fermentation techniques from ages to boost food’s shelf life and to increase its nutritive values. It’s a process through which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert the carbohydrates in the food to acids, which act as a natural preservative and also promotes the growth of good bacteria. They are the best food to treat gastrointestinal issues. Some fermented foods are kimchi, made from fermented vegetables such as radish and cabbage; it’s a popular Korean dish. Miso is a Japanese seasoning, made from fermented soybeans. Sauerkraut is a traditional food of Europe and made from fermenting finely chopped cabbage. Traditional buttermilk is the leftover liquid you can get during the making of butter and also contains lots of probiotics.

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Cheese is good for gut health. There are many kinds of cheese which are prepared by fermentation, but all do not contain probiotics. Only soft cheeses made up of unpasteurized milk, such as cheddar, mozzarella and also Swiss are rich in probiotics. The longer the cheese ages the more beneficial bacteria develops in it for your gut health.

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Kanji is a popular Indian fermented drink, which contains lots of gut friendly bacteria (probiotics) which aids in digestion and also reduces bloating, gas and promotes a healthy gut. It has a tangy, spice and tart flavor. In India, it is used as a detox drink after festival binge eating, which helps in gastrointestinal issues. However, there are many ways of making kanji, the most popular is carrot kanji. It is made by fermenting carrots along with salt, mustard seeds and asafoetida (heeng).

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It has prebiotic effects which strengthen gut flora, that help with fat breakdown and boost your immune system and improve digestion. Onion is also rich in antioxidants called flavonoids quercetin which help fight free radicals. Onion is also rich in vitamin C, B vitamins like folate (B9), pyridoxine (B6) and potassium, which aids in metabolism, red blood cell production and nerve function.

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Garlic is a prebiotic that is naturally high in inulin, a type of non- digestible carbohydrate that feeds the good bacteria in your gut and restrict disease causing bacteria from growing at the same time. Pickled garlic is best for gut health.

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Apart from being rich in nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium and Vitamin B9, it also has prebiotic effects and a small amount of inulin. Banana is high in fiber and prebiotics, both of which support smooth digestion.

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Sprouted grains:

The concentration of fiber increases in sprouted grains. Fiber is one of the most important components for maintaining gut health. Fiber nourishes the good bacteria in the gut and also promotes elimination and detoxification of the colon.

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Apple has outstanding health benefits as it is rich in fiber, Vitamin C, antioxidants and potassium. It has pectin, a type of soluble fiber, which has prebiotic effects and also promotes healthy gut microbiota. Pectin increases butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that feeds beneficial gut bacteria and also decreases the population of harmful bacteria.

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3. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are entirely healthy to eat during pregnancy when consumed in moderation. During pregnancy, it is advised that you limit your intake of nuts and seeds to no more than 100 grams per day. For example, you could consume four to seven almond pieces, around four walnut halves, few seeds and roughly eight pistachios at once. However, if you consume them excessively, you could have health issues like gastrointestinal problems and also excessive weight gain.

Also check, Best nuts and seeds for protein


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