By Marina Iacovou (PhD Candidate and Accredited Practising Dietitian)
- Whether you are following a low FODMAP diet or not, it is important to meet your appropriate energy (kilojoule/calorie) needs, which includes extra nutrition requirements during pregnancy. A suitable pregnancy supplement is also recommended during this time
- A loss of appetite, an aversion to certain foods, morning sickness (nausea/vomiting), and in a small percentage Hyperemesis gravidarum (severe vomiting causing dehydration), can make it difficult to meet your nutritional requirements
- It is important to avoid certain foods which contain listeria or salmonella, because of the increased risk of food poisoning during pregnancy. These include: soft cheeses, sandwich/deli meats, pate, pre-prepared salads and raw eggs
- It is advised not to drink alcohol. This is the safest option.
This is why consulting with a dietitian is very important whether you are following a low FODMAP diet or not.
Some women that suffer from IBS note a change in their symptoms when pregnant. For some, this can be an improvement, for others an exacerbation. Frequently we observe that in women with diarrhoea-predominant IBS, their bowel habits improve. Because of this, they are able to introduce some moderate to high FODMAP-containing foods into their diet without significant symptoms. This is likely to be due to the following:
- The mineral iron contained in pregnancy supplements has a known side effect of constipation which may counteract existing loose bowel motions
- The development of the foetus and the growing uterus places pressure on the bowel
- Progesterone, a pregnancy hormone, slows down the transit time of food through the bowel
In contrast, in those with constipatory-IBS, constipation can be further exacerbated when pregnant. It is therefore extremely important that you have adequate water and fibre in your diet, and you follow appropriate exercise practices during pregnancy. This should help to keep your bowels moving. But, if this is not enough, please see your doctor for further advice.
We have not conducted studies using the low FODMAP diet in pregnant women, and do not recommend it as a dietary therapy for pregnancy. Also, it is not a diet that should be commenced during pregnancy, but this information may be helpful to those already on the diet who may fall pregnant, as it is possible that there are changes to your food sensitivities during this time. It is important that you discuss possible food re-introductions with your dietitian.
For more information on healthy eating during pregnancy please refer here