Supplementing Your Ulcerative Colitis Pregnancy Diet
Whether you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant, your diet is going to need a little boost from a vitamin supplement.
"All women considering conception should be started on a prenatal vitamin, and our patients are no different," says Uma Mahadevan, MD, director of clinical research at the Center for Colitis and Crohn's Disease and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
A daily prenatal vitamin can also help replace nutrients you lose through diarrhea.
Ask your doctor whether you need additional supplements if you're not getting enough of certain nutrients. Vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and magnesium deficiencies are all common in people with IBD.
You may also need extra folic acid, because UC and some medications you may take for it make it harder for your body to absorb folic acid.
People with ulcerative colitis are more prone to developing anemia, a lack of red blood cells that can be caused by an iron deficiency. So getting extra iron is essential. But sometimes the iron in prenatal vitamins can bother women with IBD.
"For patients who have active ulcerative colitis – patients who are flaring – taking iron can be very stressful on the digestive system," Mahadevan says. Keep trying different vitamin formulations until you find one you can tolerate.
Pregnancy and UC: Gaining Weight
Some women with ulcerative colitis struggle to stay at the recommended weight for their height. Being underweight may increase the risk of giving birth to an underweight baby.
What's healthy? If you were at a normal weight when you got pregnant, you should aim to gain 25 to 35 pounds during your pregnancy. Increase that to 28 to 40 pounds if you started out your pregnancy underweight.
Instead of trying to eat three big meals a day, eat five smaller meals to make it easier on your digestive system. If you have to avoid certain foods because they seem to cause ulcerative colitis symptoms, ask a dietitian to help you make the healthiest choices from the foods you are able to eat.
It will be much easier for you to attain a healthy weight if you start your pregnancy off right. "If women who have ulcerative colitis are considering getting pregnant, it's always best to try to get their disease into remission before they seriously try," Mikolaitis says.
When your symptoms are under control, it's easier for you to eat well. And the better you eat, the better it will be for your ulcerative colitis and your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.