By – Dr Swati Gaikwad, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune
Pregnant women, do you showcase symptoms such as heartburn, upset stomach, feel full quickly after eating, or even throw up that undigested food? Then, beware! You may be suffering from a condition known as Gastroparesis. Yes, that is right! Speak to your doctor immediately if these symptoms bother you. Read on to know more about this condition…
Gastroparesis can be described as a disease wherein the stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal way as this condition tends to impact the normal spontaneous movement of the muscles (motility) in your stomach. Strong muscular contractions tend to push food through your digestive tract. But if you have gastroparesis, then you will be shocked to know that your stomach’s motility is slowed down or does not work at all, thereby not allowing the stomach from emptying properly. Thus, the food stays for a longer period in your stomach when it should not be problematic. You will also be shocked to know that pregnant women may also suffer from this condition.
If you exhibit symptoms like heartburn or even gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), upset stomach, vomiting undigested food, feeling of fullness immediately after eating, bloating, poor appetite, nausea, unintentional weight loss, trouble in managing blood sugar level and even abdominal pain then you will have to visit your doctor immediately and seek medical attention.
The cause: The exact of this condition is not known but it is believed that diabetes can be the culprit behind this. This condition damages your nerves along with the vagus nerve that is responsible for regulating your digestive system and even certain cells that are present in your stomach. Even an injury to one’s vagus nerve owing to the surgery, hypothyroidism, and viral stomach infection including gastroenteritis, certain medications, Parkinson’s disease, and even multiple sclerosis can be the reasons behind the occurrence of this condition.
The risk: Following are the complications of this condition: The food that you ingest and stays in the stomach for a longer period can get ferment and promote the growth of bacteria. Food left in the stomach can harden into a solid mass known as bezoar causing blockages in the stomach that keep food from passing into the small intestine. Likewise, people who have diabetes and even gastroparesis may have encounter other health issues too as the blood glucose levels rise quickly when the food finally leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine. People with gastroparesis may also suffer from dehydration and malnutrition.
All you need to know about gastroparesis and pregnancy
- Pregnant women can give birth to a healthy baby despite having gastroparesis.
- Having gastroparesis does not make a pregnancy high-risk but your doctor will determine if your personal situation constitutes that of a high-risk pregnancy.
- Gastroparesis that is not occurred by an underlying medical condition like type 1 diabetes, mitochondrial disorders, etc.) may result due to a combination of factors, only one of which is genetics. One’s overall gut health, medications, diet, chronic stress, viruses, can lead to the development of delayed gastric emptying.
This is the treatment for gastroparesis: The treatment may vary from person to person depending on how grave his/her condition is. One will be prescribed medications, antibiotics, or injections to manage this condition. Pregnant women with this condition can opt for a comprehensive management plan before they become pregnant. This will help improve your symptom management, nutrition, and quality of life
Adhere to these tips to manage gastroparesis
- Embrace good eating habits. Try to take small frequent meals. Speak to your expert regarding the kind of diet you must follow.
- Avoid eating raw and uncooked fruits and vegetables. Even eating fibrous fruits and vegetables is not a good idea. Include liquid-based foods such as soup and puree in your diet.
- Do not lie down immediately after eating food.
- Stay hydrated by drinking enough water to keep dehydration at bay. Exercise after every meal. Going for a walk can be a good option.