Why pregnancy can lead to gallstones and how to help prevent them everyday health electricity 101 youtube


On top of morning sickness, stretch marks, and swollen feet, pregnant women have yet another thing to worry about: gallstones. But despite the increased risk, there are things you can do to help prevent this unwanted side effect of pregnancy.

Gallstones can lead to pain and other symptoms, and if left untreated, they can cause your gallbladder to become infected or even rupture. Women have a 2 to 3 times higher rate of gallstones than men, and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy put them at even greater risk. Still, gallstones are not an inevitable part of pregnancy if you’re willing to take steps to help avoid them. What’s the Link Between Pregnancy and Gallstones?

Bile is a liquid produced by your liver that is primarily made of cholesterol, bilirubin, and bile salts. Your gallbladder stores bile until your body needs it, and then releases it into your small intestine, where it helps with the digestion of dietary fat and fat-soluble vitamins. If the substances that make up your bile become imbalanced — too much cholesterol or bilirubin and not enough bile salts, for example — hardened gallstones may form in your gallbladder.

“Pregnant women are at increased risk for gallstones because of increased estrogen levels,” says Jose Nieto, DO , a gastroenterologist at the Borland-Groover Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, adding that weight gain and rapid weight loss after pregnancy also increase the risk. Increased estrogen is problematic because it can cause cholesterol levels in bile to spike, which can lead to the development of gallstones.

• Steady, severe pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen, especially after eating a fatty meal• Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates into your right shoulder and back• Abdominal pain that lasts more than five hours• Nausea and vomiting• Fever or chills• Yellowing skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)• Stools that are clay colored Diagnosis and Treatment of Gallstones During Pregnancy

Gallstones are most commonly treated by cholecystectomy, which is the surgical removal of your gallbladder. Depending on your symptoms and risk factors, your doctor may choose to carefully monitor you during pregnancy or go ahead and remove your gallbladder while you are pregnant. How To Prevent Gallstones During Pregnancy

• Gain a healthy amount of weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of gallstones in women. Pregnancy is not a time for weight-loss diets, but working with your doctor to avoid excess weight gain can help.• Eat a high-fiber diet. Too little fiber can increase your risk of developing gallstones. Eating more fiber-rich foods can help keep your gallbladder — and your baby — healthy.• Choose the right fats. Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats help prevent gallstones, while foods high in saturated fat tend to promote their formation.• Cut back on sugar and other refined carbohydrates. Sugar and products made from white or refined flour — such as many types of bread, pasta, crackers, and chips — increase the risk of gallstones. They also provide mostly empty calories, which is not something you or your baby really need.• Manage diabetes. People with diabetes often have high triglyceride levels, and both conditions have been linked to an increased risk of gallstones. So work with your doctor to keep your diabetes under control while you are pregnant.