Digestive Issues in Pregnancy

Digestive Issues in Pregnancy

You’re queasy. You’ve vomited more than you have in years. Your organs have shifted. You’re hungry but also can’t eat much at once. Everything in your digestive system is in flux (yes, sometimes re-flux!) while you’re pregnant. Next to sleep issues, digestive issues in pregnancy may be some of the most universal unpleasant effects.

Discomfort to some degree may be expected when you’re expecting, but there are plenty of things you can do to combat these disturbances. Let’s take a look at some of the most common digestive issues in pregnancy and ways that you can prevent or limit them.


As the flagship symptom or effect of pregnancy, of all the digestive issues, nausea and pregnancy seem to go hand in hand. Most mothers experience some form of nausea during their pregnancy, whether it’s morning sickness early on or queasiness after eating in the later weeks or anything in between.

  • Nausea may be prevented by proactively snacking on protein with gentle carbs in order keep blood sugar levels stable.
  • Snacks by your bedside or in your bag or car are important in order to make sure you never get to that point of excessive hunger that often turns into nausea.
  • You’ll soon learn what foods and smells trigger your nausea. Eating small amounts frequently can keep your belly full without leading to the over-full that makes you queasy.

Peppermint and ginger are both allies in fighting nausea, best consumed in pregnancy teas that you can sip or candies that you can suck on slowly.

Breastfeeding and Pregnancy Guide

Heartburn & Indigestion

Reflux and indigestion are most common in the later months of pregnancy, when your organs have very little room for anything else at all. However, you might experience heartburn early on as your stomach acid composition changes expecting more (or less) food than it did before pregnancy.

  • Avoid high-acid and spicy foods that may contribute to heartburn.
  • Eat small, frequent meals in order keep your stomach busy but not over-filled.
  • Consider papaya enzymes as well as soothing teas in order to combat these digestive issues.

Over the counter medications for acid may sometimes be necessary, but not as a first choice. Take some time to pay attention to what triggers reflux, and remember that it can happen with both too much and not enough stomach acid. Eat slowly, enjoying foods that your body processes well, and assist it with soothing digestive aids when necessary.

Irregular Bowels

Another side effect of shifting organs and fluctuating eating patterns, bowel movements can be all sorts of irregular during pregnancy. You may experience loose bowels if your eating and hydration patterns have changed. Constipation might plague you for similar reasons, as well as when your organs shift and if you’re taking an iron supplement that isn’t absorbed well by the body.

  • Eat as regularly as possible, including high fiber fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Drink plenty of water. Nutrition and hydration status can affect both loose stools and constipation and should be your first defense against irregular bowels.
  • Discontinue supplements that contain iron in pill forms. Diet or plant-based supplements are gentler, more effective ways of improving iron status without the side effect of uncomfortable constipation.
  • Take probiotics daily
  • Use a stool to elevate your legs to simulate a squatting position to help stimulate bowel movements.
  • Move, move, move. Walking and remaining active help to normalize all of the body’s functions, including the digestive system. Go for a regular, relaxing evening walk if you’re struggling with irregularity.

Constipation can be a major problem if allowed to continue, leading to further complications including hemorrhoids and more. Take proactive steps to prevent it, address it with lifestyle changes as soon as possible, and contact your care provider if you cannot re-establish normalcy. Keep in mind that stimulant laxatives can stimulate the uterus into labor as well, which makes them typically contraindicated in pregnancy. 

Questions to ask a doula or midwife

Soothing Digestive Issues in Pregnancy

The most important way to relieve digestive issues in pregnancy is to tackle it with diet and hydration changes. If you aren’t putting good things into your digestive system, it won’t be able to treat you well, either. Herbs are excellent partners for the digestive system, sticking with gentle digestive herbs as proactive helpers rather than harsh laxative or stimulants once the problems have escalated.

  • Teas such as Lady in Waiting can be sipped for digestive wellness all day long as well as alongside meals
  • Tinctures like Stomach Soother are good for more acute struggles with nausea, heartburn, and indigestion

Remember that fluids keep all of the systems in our body moving, and herbal teas hydrate as well as nourish for optimal digestive wellness, even (and especially) during pregnancy.

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