A Diet to Treat Gastroenteritis During Pregnancy

Gastroenteritis during pregnancy can lead to dehydration and put the health of mother and baby at risk. However, a woman can prevent it by making some dietary adjustments.
A Diet to Treat Gastroenteritis During Pregnancy

Last update: 16 October, 2021

Diet plays an important role in the treatment of gastroenteritis during pregnancy. This is because proper nutrition can help mitigate the effects of symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea — typical of this condition.

This infection can affect anyone and a pregnant woman afflicted by it should seek immediate attention. Note that any delay in treatment will increase the health risks of both the mother and her embryo. Continue reading to find out more about this subject.

Gastroenteritis during pregnancy

This condition, especially in its acute form, is a major health problem in pregnant women. It’s an infection that can be due to enteropathogenic bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Furthermore, there’s a smaller percentage of non-infectious cases like Crohn’s disease.

Various organisms can produce it but all manifest as diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and abdominal pain. These symptoms trigger a significant loss of water and mineral salts. In addition, it reduces hunger.

As you can imagine, a pregnant woman going through an episode of gastroenteritis must follow an adequate diet. Moreover, the goal of the diet must be to stop the loss of liquids, replenish mineral salts and improve the associated symptoms.

Note that drugs aren’t necessary in most cases. However, a doctor can prescribe the most suitable ones if necessary.

A pregnant woman at the doctor.
A pregnant woman with gastroenteritis must seek medical attention to prevent complications.

Can diet help relieve gastroenteritis during pregnancy?

Nutrition professionals suggest that the optimal diet to follow is the astringent type. This is a good treatment for any person with this disease. A professional must suggest the best plan for pregnant women.

The doctor or nutritionist can guide you towards adequate nutrition according to the requirements of this stage. In addition, it helps determine which foods may be troublesome or unsuitable for this condition.

Characteristics of an astringent diet

  • Low in insoluble fiber
  • Low-fat
  • Lactose-free
  • Neither irritants nor gas-producing foods

Foods for the astringent diet

  • Rice, thinly rolled noodles, and polenta
  • White bread
  • Clear tea, such as chamomile, herbs, boldo
  • Plenty of water (in moderation)
  • Pumpkin or carrot
  • Lean meat, cooked without skin and steamed or boiled
  • Fresh cheeses, low in fat
  • Applesauce
  • Oil, only for seasoning
  • Egg whites
A bowl of rice.
Rice has an astringent capacity. What this means is that it helps slow down bowel movements.

Foods to avoid

It’s important to skip foods that produce bloating or gas, such as the following:

  • The lactose in milk
  • Sodas, juices, teas, and any other commercial sugary beverages
  • Legumes, which in addition to fiber, are highly fermentable and produce indigestion
  • Vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage, and onions
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn, because they ferment quickly
  • Garlic
  • Egg yolks

General recommendations

  • Skip any heavy meals and eat small amounts several times a day instead. Ideally, try to distribute them in six intakes (breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, snack, dinner, and a bite before going to bed).
  • Eat slowly.
  • Rest in a sitting position up to half an hour after the main meals.
  • Drink fluids in small amounts, adjusting the amount ingested to the amount lost through bowel movements.
  • Don’t eat food that’s either too cold or too hot.
  • Cook the food with simple methods such as boiling it, in its juice, grilled, steamed, or baked.
  • Season dishes with salt and mild herbs.

Reintroducing food after gastroenteritis

Stick to the astringent diet until symptoms cease and you can progressively reintroduce restricted foods according to individual tolerance. The most important thing is to do so progressively so it doesn’t irritate the intestine.

Keep this in mind when it comes to gastroenteritis during pregnancy

You must consult a doctor and not try to self-medicate. This is because a bad intervention can lead to complications for both a mother’s health and that of her baby.

Generally, it’s enough to follow the normal dietary recommendations to manage the after-effects of vomiting and diarrhea. However, certain medications might be necessary but only a physician should prescribe them.

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