Gallbladder Problems During Pregnancy – Everything You Need To Know

gallbladder problems during pregnancy

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Gall bladder is one of the organs that get affected easily during pregnancy. This happens because your body is fast processing the pregnancy hormones called progesterone and estrogen.

Progesterone causes the muscular tissues all over your body to relax, thereby manipulating the functioning of gall bladder. Gall bladder is responsible for the release of bile that burns the fat in the food during digestion. The slowdown of the bile release can lead to the development of gall stones.

Women are more likely to get gall bladder related diseases than men, and it is more during pregnancy. Therefore, it is important to understand the types of gall bladder complications, the symptoms and the relief measures so that you are well prepared in advance.

Types Of Gall Bladder Complications:

Here are some of the usual issues that crop up pertaining to the gallbladder while pregnant:

1. Gall Stones:

The primary function of your gall is to store bile that helps digest fats.

  • As food enters the small intestines from your stomach, the gall gets a message that it has to release the bile.
  • Bile is made up of water, bile salts and cholesterol.
  • If there is too much of cholesterol content, the gall bladder does not empty properly. This forms deposits in the gall known as gall stones.

Gallstones are usually composed of calcium bilirubinate, cholesterol and calcium carbonate.

2. Biliary Colic:

Biliary Colic occurs due to the blockage in the gall ducts.

  • If the bile is unable to come out of the gall bladder due to stones, it can cause inflammation or infection inside the gall bladder.
  • Non release of bile stops fat being digested in the small intestine. This causes a shooting pain in the upper abdomen and back. You may even experience nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms Of Gall Bladder Problems During Pregnancy:

Gall stones and infection can occur in women of all age groups, particularly the younger group. Constant weight gain and obesity are major culprits that can subject your body to gall related infections.

Keep a watch on the below gallbladder symptoms during pregnancy. Report the symptoms to your doctor right away:

  • Severe pain in the upper part of abdomen
  • Pain in the back
  • Nausea other than morning sickness
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Bloating and Gas
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Fever

Symptoms Of Gallstones:

Some common signs and symptoms associated with the formation of gallstones during pregnancy include:

  • Pain: Gallstones that move through the gallbladder system can induce pain, usually in the right side of the abdomen near the ribcage. The pain may be dull or sharp, or even be recognized as a throbbing sensation. The pain associated with gallstones usually worsens during the night, and after the consumption of fatty foods. Pain in the shoulder blades or the right shoulder is also noted.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Digestive upset is a common complaint noted among women who develop gallstones during pregnancy. Increased flatulence and belching is noted, and in some cases, nausea and an urge to vomit is also observed. Diarrhoea and loose stools are also found to affect women who suffer from gallstones during pregnancy.
  • Other Symptoms: Apart from these, gallstones are also thought to induce indigestion, heartburn and nausea.

Can Gallbladder Problems Affect My Baby?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, gallbladder problems could cause serious complications during pregnancy. Pregnant women experiencing abdominal pain for more than 5 hours should consult a doctor. Severe symptoms such as fever, yellowness of the skin and eyes and sudden vomiting could be a signal of a serious gallbladder problem, and if left untreated, it may also lead to infections and gallbladder rupture.

Treatment For Gall Bladder:

There are several methods of treatments undertaken depending on the severity.

  • Your doctor will usually confirm the presence of gallstones after performing an ultrasound, similar to a regular ultrasound which is done to monitor the baby’s progress and growth.
  • Several other diagnostic scans such as an oral cholecystogram and a CT scan may also be advised.
  • Your doctor will prescribe diet changes and mild medications during pregnancy.
  • If the infection is too severe to wait, a surgery may be required. Your doctor will perform a laparoscopy for the gall bladder surgery with minimal invasion if necessary.
  • Laparoscopy involves making two abdominal incisions and inserting a laparoscope while removing the infection or stones with surgical instruments. The laparoscope will have a tiny camera that will transmit the picture of the organ on the computer monitor.

Precautions And Measures:

You need to be careful about few aspects during the pregnancy period. Taking necessary precautions will help you avert the gall bladder infections:

1. Diet:

Make sure you eat a nutritious diet during pregnancy.

  • The diet should be rich in fiber, iron, vitamins, protein and calcium.
  • Avoid eating fatty foods so that there is less accumulation of the same during digestion.

[ Read: Pregnancy Diet Chart ]

2. Weight Management:

Managing weight prevents many complications, including that of gall bladder.

  • Make sure you eat right and not in excess.
  • Going on a binge will not yield any benefits. Furthermore, you will only become fat and obese.

[ Read: Overweight And Pregnancy ]

3. Fitness:

Having a healthy routine is a must.

  • Have a good workout in the form of exercises and Yoga.
  • Keeping your body fit and flexible helps avoid health complications.

4. Water:

Drink plenty of water.

  • Keeping yourself hydrated helps flush away toxins and unwanted residues from the body.
  • Hydration also improves digestion.

Make sure you talk to your gynecologist about healthy diet, lifestyle and exercise to rule out gallbladder issues during pregnancy. Being equipped, alert and ready is a battle won!

Do share your experiences with us.

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