Bowel Incontinence During Pregnancy

Bowel Incontinence During Pregnancy Explained

Bowel incontinence, also known as Fecal Incontinence (FI), is described as the inability control the release of stools or gas. In other words, someone with bowel incontinence has limited to no say in when and where to go to the bathroom. As a result, he or she may be confined to wearing diapers or liners in order to prevent leaks and humiliation. Let's continue and learn more about bowel incontinence during pregnancy.

Types of Fecal Incontinence

Bowel incontinence also affects people in varied ways. For instance, it could happen occasionally or at all times.

There are two recognized types of incontinence, including passive and urge incontinence. In passive episodes, patients are oblivious of the need to go. In urge incontinence cases, the signal to go is clear but getting from one’s current location to a nearby bathroom is challenging.

The Correlation Between FI and Pregnancy

Bowel incontinence during pregnancy explained: A large focus has been placed on incontinence postpartum due to the elevated risks of perineal injury following childbirth. In this article, however, we’ll emphasize fecal incontinence during pregnancy and what to expect post-partum.

As an expecting mother’s body changes over the nine months’ gestation period, one of the most widely reported complications is incontinence, including fecal incontinence.

According to The National Association For Continence, roughly 63% of women noted that the symptoms of accidental bowel leakage (ABL) commenced during and after the pregnancy.

The main causes of fecal incontinence during pregnancy include:

How Fecal Incontinence is Diagnosed

To diagnose fecal incontinence, medical specialists typically conduct a series of tests, including:

  • Anal Manometries – A balloon equipped with sensors weigh sensitivity in the rectum area.
  • Anal EMGs – This tests the strength and functioning of nerves and pelvic floor muscles.
  • MRIs and Ultrasounds – These tools paint a clear picture of the root cause of fecal incontinence.

Even though these advanced medical tests are effective for getting to the source of bowel incontinence, the risks may outweigh the benefits during pregnancy. As a result, less invasive approaches may be taken to alleviate leaks and some of these treatments are explored below.

Treatments for Fecal Incontinence During Pregnancy

Expecting mothers naturally tend to worry about what goes into their bodies. So when fecal incontinence comes into play and relief is needed fast, the first instinct is to seek out natural treatments. There are a few that can help, including consuming more fiber rich foods as well as increasing the intake of water.

Experts also advise against eating fatty or greasy foods. These dietary changes can go a long way in alleviating constipation, which is a precursor of fecal incontinence. If this method doesn’t work, your obstetrician may prescribe a safe laxative or anti-diarrhea medicine in severe cases.

Fecal Incontinence After Pregnancy

According to the US National Library of Medicine, it’s been well documented that women who give vaginal birth are susceptible to fecal incontinence. This is due to the fact that this method of childbirth may cause substantial damage to the anal sphincter.

There are some proven steps that new mothers can take to reduce the risk of developing fetal incontinence postpartum.

To deter swelling and infections in the perineal area, try:

  • Ice Packs
  • Sitz Baths
  • Self-Care
  • Stool Softeners

Other Tips

If you experienced mild to moderate cases of sporadic or occasional fetal incontinence during pregnancy, make sure to follow up with a specialist to determine if the condition has progressed.

The tools used to diagnose fecal incontinence should be safe to carry out after delivery.

Surgery: The Last Resort for Fecal Incontinence

If none of the recommended treatments work, your doctor may suggest a sphincteroplasty, which is a surgical procedure used to fix injured muscles. Alternatively and if the muscles are damaged beyond repair, an artificial anal sphincter may be applied.

A medical professional in the field of gastroenterology can explain more.

The Take Home Message

Bowel incontinence during pregnancy explained: Over the years, incontinence and pregnancy have been said to go hand in hand. Mothers are told to accept certain changes and to learn to live with them. The good news is that both moms and medical communities are changing this outdated outlook.

Today, you can find a range of support and treatments for women suffering from these and other types of health issues stemming from pregnancy.

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Last Reviewed:
July 12, 2017
Last Updated:
October 24, 2017
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