This one’s for you.
Thanks for being here, for reading this post, and for trusting me in advising you on your digestive issues. As someone who was diagnosed with IBS, handed a pamphlet and sent on their way to figure this out on their own, I get how alone and frustrated you may be feeling. This post is especially for all you women who are growing beautiful babies in your bellies or nursing them. You mamas who are growing, loving, nurturing bigger babies, trying to juggle life, self-care and fighting off hunger cravings may enjoy this post as well.
I recently just had my second little one, David. Another boy to add to this crew! He is 4 months old at the time of this writing and life, well… it’s tough. I’m starving all the time, I’m trying to keep myself hydrated while being the sole source of nutrition for a 20 pound human (yes, he’s a big boy!) and trying to keep my head on straight while I work a little and love on the rest of my family. It’s as I said, tough.
I feel super grateful that I sorted out my IBS years ago, improved my digestion and find myself symptom-free most days. Because I’ve created a system to get rid of symptoms and identify triggers, when my own symptoms came back during this second pregnancy, I had a place to start to know how to get them under control again. What every pregnant, nauseated, exhausted woman needs… gas, bloating and diarrhea… NO. You just do not need another symptom, another complication and another thing to worry about when you are growing and feeding and nurturing other people.
I had already followed the Low FODMAP diet, eliminated foods that are high in FODMAP sugars for a little while, and added them back in to identify you my own intolerance, so I knew my own personal threshold. Well, without the start of these new symptoms… which means my body became more sensitive and my triggers increased. But if you haven’t figured out your FODMAP food intolerances yet, this is NOT the time to try the Low FODMAP diet.
So I wanted to share with you in this post, the exact steps that I followed when I was pregnant with David to help me reduce my symptoms, like gas, pain and bloating, to feel a little better. This comes directly from the Clairity program, which is the program that I use with my clients to help them do three things. When you’re not growing another person, these are the three things everyone with IBS needs to do in order to find long-term relief.
ONE – GET RELIEF
In the program, I teach the strategies that will improve digestion, heal the gut and get clients feeling symptom-free. These strategies include eating for good digestion and living for good digestion. We talk about probiotics, mindfulness, exercise, FODMAPs, and other techniques to empower you to take control of IBS.
TWO – IDENTIFY TRIGGERS
Once clients have relieve, they go through my step-by-step instructions to identify food intolerances, which groups their body can handle, and which trigger digestive issues.
THREE – EXPAND YOUR DIET & GET BACK TO NORMAL
In this phase, I help clients expand the way they are eating to get back to enjoying food. They are empowered to be able to travel, eat out, socialize, attend holiday events and include their favourite foods without fear.
The Low FODMAP Diet, Other Restrictive Diets and Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you can’t go through the normal program. The last thing you need to do is eliminate healthy foods or put restrictions on your eating when you are trying to sustain a life inside you. And when the miracle of you birthing that baby happens, you might even get hungrier and more desperate for any food that you can grab onto! Motherhood is tough in those first few years (says the mom of a 3 1/2 year old and 4 month old… It gets better right?)
So in this stage in your life, I would NOT recommend:
- The Low FODMAP Diet
- The SCD Diet
- The Paleo Diet
- ANY kind of restrictive diet
- ANY kind of elimination diet
What I would recommend is exactly what I did when I was pregnant, and even now while I’m breastfeeding David. Here are my top strategies for you, beautiful mama, during pregnancy and breastfeeding:
Strategies for IBS and Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
1 – Eat food that is good for digestion
Ok, so this one is pretty solid for those in any life stage, and especially important for those of us during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
For a lot of my clients, when they follow these guidelines, they get such great symptom improvement! And they are just focusing on food that is good for their bodies.
The list below will help you choose the foods that are better for digestion more often. It doesn’t mean you can’t have food on this list, it just helps you to choose these more often!
HAVE MORE OFTEN:
- Cooked bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, carrots, parsnips, squash
- Or pureed vegetables or fruit into soups or smoothies, easier to digest 😉
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a serving of raw vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, baby spinach or other baby greens (no more than this)
- Sourdough bread instead of other wheat breads
- Different kinds of grains and starches, like rice, quinoa, starchy vegetables, barely, potatoes, polenta, etc. instead of just wheat all the time
- Water instead of juice
- Home made, home baked instead of store-bought
2 – Minimize foods that aren’t good for digestion
Some foods just aren’t that great for us… not good for our bodies, not good for our digestion. You can choose how much of this to have, it’s up to you, but if you could do your best to minimize the foods outlined below, you will probably experience less symptoms.
- Avoid/minimize coffee, especially caffeinated… I know, how do you survive without sleep? Listen, it’s up to you whether you drink coffee or not, but I promise you, if you cut out caffeine and coffee, you will see a different in your digestive issues.
- Avoid/minimize alcohol – yes, even a little wine. It can really cause you issues. D
- Sulphurous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, garlic and onions – have small amounts of these but not a whole bowl of it!
That’s it! Not too many food avoidances. Really try to include as much variety as possible.
3 – Do not focus on identify your triggers
Unless you’re working directly with a registered dietitian who is an expert in digestive nutrition, or you’re enrolled in the Clairity program (if you are, message me directly and I’ll help tailor the program to your needs), you need to just not try to figure out what’s triggering your symptoms. It’s messy, it’s unclear, and if you think you might know what is triggering your symptoms and cut it out, you may be avoiding really important nutrients that you need in your diet.
Please don’t cut anything out. At. All. If you do want to figure out how to avoid your triggers, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact a digestive expert to guide you through. Please don’t leave out foods in your diet without knowing for a fact, they are your triggers.
4 – Take A LOT of self-care time for your mind-body health
My favourite thing to do is, just do nothing. Sit on your couch, on your front porch, in your car, wherever it’s quiet. Just sit and let your thoughts pass in and out of your mind. Allow yourself to be still and have quiet. Listen to yourself, check in and make sure you’re ok.
We often pack our days full, with work, driving, errands, cooking, cleaning, tv time, even book reading, and there is no space for your mind to be blank. Healing is in the quiet time. Make space for this as often as you can. It’s a human need my friend.
NOTE: This is a constant struggle for me. I need to make myself do this every day. Sometimes I schedule it, sometimes I just sit on my couch and lock my phone in a drawer at the end of the day, and I don’t always get it done. I fail. But the nights and days I do get it in, I feel much better.
5 – Give yourself some grace
You’re not perfect, I’m not perfect, no one is perfect. There is no such thing. Just because you failed miserably today, ate 3 doughnuts, drank 2 giant lattes, and had a hot dog for breakfast, doesn’t mean you give up. And I’m telling you – having a huge salad doesn’t make it better – did you read number 1? Raw vegetables – we have to minimize those.
Do your best to lower your expectations of yourself, becoming a mother, growing humans, nurturing the future of the race, man, it’s magical and difficult, beautiful and painful. You. Are. Amazing.
Someone, my therapist maybe?, told me once to talk to myself like I was talking to my dear friend. I’m much easier on myself when I do this. Give it a try.
And if you need any help, I’m here. Send me an email or fill out my contact form or join me on instagram @stephanieclairmont – find me in the world and let me know you need help. I would be happy to hold your hand and guide you along.
Mama. You are magical, powerful, beautiful. You are kicking ass even though you may be feeling like your failing.
And you are enough.
Sending you so much mama love,