Gallbladder Pain During Pregnancy
Pregnancy causes normal, hormonal changes in the body. During this time and the weeks postpartum, women are more likely to experience gallbladder pain. Women naturally have higher levels of estrogen than men, and both estrogen and progesterone are measured higher, during pregnancy which has the effect of slowing gallbladder contractions and causing bile to be stored longer.
When bile is not released regularly, it becomes more concentrated and likely to form stones. While gallstones commonly go unnoticed and don’t cause problems, about 12% of women who will develop gallstones while they’re pregnant will have significant pain and may then require surgery.
The gallbladder’s role in digestion is to store and concentrate the bile produced by the liver, then secrete it when signalled by the contents of our food. The gallbladder is a small pouch located just under the liver. A complex information system in the digestive tract regulates bile components and volume based on the food that we eat.
Large fat globules are emulsified and broken into tiny, absorbable elements so that their energy can be used. Bile also makes fat soluble vitamins absorbable in our intestines. When the bile components of cholesterol and salts are imbalanced, or when the gallbladder does not empty regularly, gallstones may form which can range in size from a grain of sand to large marbles.
The painful gallbladder symptoms of a gallstone attack include severe pain in the upper, right abdomen which may radiate to the right shoulder and this typically follows a high fat meal.
For the majority of individuals, not pregnant cleansing is must in order to avoid gallbladder pain. However, no cleansing procedures are ever suggested for women during pregnancy. The reason is cleansing breaks down toxins in different tissues in the body. These toxins get reabsorbed by the body and end up in the blood and eventually affect the baby.
Likewise, no cleansing procedures are ever suggested for women who are nursing for the same reason.
People who are obese and over 40 have an elevated risk of developing stones and women are generally at a higher risk than men are experience gallbladder pain. Excess body fat will reduce bile salt and leave elevated levels of cholesterol which can form stones. This is why obesity is also a risk factor for gallstones. Even temporary weight gain for women who gain significantly during pregnancy can contribute to the risk.
Rapid weight loss is another risk factor for gallbladder symptoms. When the body burns fat quickly, it causes the liver to secrete extra cholesterol into the bile, which can cause gallstones. After childbirth, many women diet and attempt to lose large amounts of weight, very quickly. Aggressive, rapid weight loss can also cause a digestive imbalance and trigger gallstone formation.
It is recommended that you lose weight slowly- no more than 2 pounds per week- so that it is sustainable. Always follow a healthy meal pan with sufficient calories in order to avoid this problem. High fiber diets help to reduce the absorption of deoxycholic acid which assists with dissolving cholesterol more easily in bile. Veggies, fruit and whole grains are excellent sources of dietary fibre.
Exercise regularly to further reduce your risk of gallstone formation and gallbladder symptoms. Thirty minutes of exercise, five times per week has been linked with a 34 percent reduction in risk. Finding the time to exercise with a new baby at home is no easy task but well worth aiming for.
Another suggestion is to provide the body with a high electrolyte juice extract such as carrots, beets, cucumbers and celery. This will aid with morning sickness as well as with providing nutritional support for the liver and gallbladder. These also make available the nutrition necessary for the detoxification pathways in the liver, but in a gentle form.