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Pregnant: rumbling bowels

  1. Rumbling intestines during pregnancy is a common complaint in women. The first complaints often start as early as two weeks after conception, when a pregnancy test shows positive. For some women a welcome first sight, for others a gruesome ailment. Rumbling bowels is the name for intestines that function differently than normal during pregnancy.


  1. Pregnancy officially starts after fertilization between egg and sperm. Yet as a woman you cannot notice anything about the pregnancy at this time. The first symptoms only appear after the ovum has been implanted in the uterine wall. At that time, the production of the pregnancy hormone HCG also starts. And that hormone is responsible for many pregnancy ailments such as nausea and rumbling bowels.

What are rumbling bowels?

  1. The name rumbling intestines sounds a bit un-Dutch and it is, but it is often used in popular speech to indicate that the intestines are upset. This often occurs during pregnancy and at any time. We often see most complaints arise early in pregnancy. This is caused by the big changes during pregnancy. Once the egg is implanted, the placenta starts producing the pregnancy hormone HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin). This hormone can be measured in the blood or urine of the woman. You can test for this yourself by means of a urine test, which can sometimes detect HCG 1 to 2 days before the expected menstruation. This depends on the amount of HCG in the woman's body. Not every woman has the same amount of HCG in the body at the same time. This also explains why some women suffer more from rumbling intestines than others. Most women have a rumbling bowel for the first time at 4 or 5 weeks of pregnancy.

Constipation or diarrhea

  1. The hormones attack the functioning of the intestines. Usually the intestines work more slowly during pregnancy. This has the result that blockages or constipation occur. The stool gets harder and it is more difficult to get rid of it. Sometimes it is so bad that aids have to be used to get rid of the stool. Diarrhea is the other side of the story: the body extracts too little moisture from the stool because it passes through the intestines too quickly. The result is diarrhea or watery stools. Diarrhea is not a sign of pregnancy but rather a sign that an infection is present. This infection often clears up on its own and within a few days bowel movements are 'normal' for pregnancy again.

Pain with defecation

  1. Constipation can cause pain. It hurts during a bowel movement because the stool has thickened to such an extent that it is hard and gives little yield. The anus can then be stretched too much, which causes pain complaints. The stool can also remain in the intestines for too long, causing abdominal pain. There may also be bloating. Less often, nausea and a taste of faeces in the mouth occur. This is only the case when the blockage is so severe that it tries to find a way out.


  1. By eating fiber-rich food, bowel movements can be improved. We often eat too little fiber, which is especially important during pregnancy. Rye bread, wholemeal bread, plums, muesli, gingerbread, legumes, cries and apricots are examples of fiber-rich foods. Drinking enough water is also essential: this prevents the stool from drying out too much. Women who drink too little water cause problems because the body starts to extract the necessary moisture from the stool. After all, the moisture has to come from somewhere.

Stomach ache, sometimes after eating

  1. Rumbling intestines sometimes also include stomach pain. Often the complaints are worse than in women without abdominal pain. Although this is annoying, the complaints will disappear. In any case, try not to immediately reach for laxatives, but relax by, for example, placing a warm bath or a hot water bottle against the stomach. Abdominal pain complaints can also develop after eating, which are more likely a result of the food that has been ingested. Spicy or pungent foods such as fruit juices, coffee, and carbonated drinks can irritate the stomach and cause abdominal discomfort. Excessive amounts of food can also cause stomach pain. Especially towards the end of pregnancy, the stomach contents are smaller. Try to eat smaller portions throughout the day. Better five to six small meals than three large ones.

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