A gallbladder is a quite small organ that plays a major role in digestion. However, it can become a reason to worry during pregnancy. The changes that happen during pregnancy represent the impactful functioning of the gallbladder. An affected gallbladder might cause various complications that could affect the baby’s development.
Gallbladder disease and pregnancy
Pregnant women are most affected as they have a high risk of forming gallstones because of the changes in hormonal levels. Gallstones could lead to pain, and if they are not treated, they may even rupture and make the situation worse. However, the development of gallstone stones can be avoided if the symptom is already known says Dr Amita Jain.
How does pregnancy impact the gallbladder?
During pregnancy, the hormones known as progesterone affects the gallbladder. As an outcome, the release of the bile juices is decelerated which leads to the development of the gallbladder. Women who already have gallstones are at broader risk since these stones block the release of bile. Gallbladder disease during pregnancy is mostly misdiagnosed or confused with morning sickness which creates a problem in its detection. However, the most efficient method to diagnose gallbladder conditions is an ultrasound.
Gallstones are developed because of various reasons. However, generally, they are formed because of an imbalance in the formation or drainage of bile which includes cholesterol and bile salts.
As an outcome, they form crystals that can grow big and become hard. The circulating hormones known as estrogen and progesterone impact the gallbladder’s contraction ability to excrete bile.
The broader levels of these hormones promote gallstone development and when these gallstones are lodged inside your gallbladder or pancreas they can be quite painful sites gallstone surgeon Dr. Amita Jain.
Gallstones and pregnancy symptoms
It is vital to consult with the doctor and to know the symptoms of gallbladder disease during your pregnancy. Some of the symptoms:
- Gradual increasing pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
- Pain below the right shoulder
- Long-lasting abdominal pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Yellow and clay-coloured stools
Can gallbladder disease impact the development of the baby?
Gallstones do not cause any impact on the baby. However, the baby could be affected by the implications of the disease condition. Infection, nausea, and vomiting hamper the ability to nourish which might affect the development of the baby.
Gallstones and pregnancy: The actual connection
The liver form bile which is made of water, cholesterol, fat, protein, and some bile salts. The gallbladder stores the bile until our body needs it. The bile is further released in the small intestine where it supports the digestion of fats. If an imbalance happens between the substances that make bile, then hardened gallstones form in the gallbladder.
During pregnancy, large amounts of estrogen are formed to support the developing baby. The presence of high levels of estrogens also boosts the cholesterol level which ultimately leads to the formation of gallstones. Women who have been taking hormone replacement therapy or specific birth control pills are at high risk of having gallstones as these medicines have estrogen.
Diagnosis of gallstones during pregnancy
An abdominal ultrasound is done to confirm the diagnosis. It is important to tell the doctor about your pregnancy as several diagnostic modalities used for a diagnosis such as cholecystography, CT scan, or nuclear scan are not recommended during pregnancy as they are unsafe. Gallstones are surgically removed depending on the availability of symptoms and several risk factors in pregnancy.
Prevention of gallstone formation in pregnancy
Gallstone development in pregnancy can be prevented in the following ways:
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Having a high-fibre and low diet.
- Controlling the diabetic condition.
Thus gallstones during pregnancy are avoidable by adopting the mentioned guidelines. However, a regular doctor check-up is also essential if you are at risk or are forming significant symptoms of gallstones during pregnancy.
This post has been written by Delhi’s top laparoscopic surgeon for gallbladder stones, Dr Amita Jain. Besides being a top gallstone surgeon, Dr Amita Jain is amongst the most experienced laparoscopic surgeon in India.
Dr Amita Jain is a surgeon with highest degree of professional competence, precision and surgical craftsmanship. Performed all complicated general surgery procedures with in depth knowledge of invasive and few minimal invasive and onco surgical techniques. Underwent special training in trauma, executed various trauma-related complex life-saving neurosurgical procedures, reconstructed injured mangled limbs and performed vascular and reconstructive procedures with critical care.
Dr Amita Jain holds 28 plus years of rich experience in Trauma and General Laparoscopic Surgeries (including Gallbladder stone removal, appendix removal, hernia repair surgery, piles and fissure surgeries). She was the Professor Surgery of at the Army College of Medical Sciences and Base Hospital Delhi Cantt. In 1994 she was commissioned as Surgeon under the United Nations Mission in Congo. From 2020 to 2022, she worked with Bansals Hospital. Currently, Dr Amita Jain is the Senior Consultant, (Speciality: General and Laparoscopic Surgeon) at Artemis Lite Hospital, New Delhi