Gallstones in Pregnant Women: Symptoms, Complication, Treatment


During pregnancy, the woman’s boy undergoes several changes including hormonal fluctuations. While some of these changes may not necessarily harm you or your baby, neglecting them may not be a good idea. Gall stones is one such condition that you must not neglect during pregnancy. Read on to know why.

Gallbladder malfunctioning is not uncommon during pregnancies. Not all women suffer from gallbladder issues, but when it occurs, it may take serious turns. The health of the baby may be affected if you ignore gall bladder problems. Though a tiny organ, it has an important function in the body. The gallbladder stores bile that is released from the liver and it deals with the digestion of extra fatty stuff in the body. Positioned behind the liver, the gall bladder undergoes change during pregnancy.

How does pregnancy affect the gallbladder?

During pregnancy, the level of oestrogen is increased in the body. The probability of developing gallstones rises during this period. In fact, women are more prone to develop stones in their gall bladder than men.  As a result of excessive oestrogen, the level of cholesterol rises in the bile. This results in the contractions in gall bladder, causing problems. The stones are formed due to excess accumulation of bile, which is unable to escape due to high concentration of cholesterol. This occurs particularly during pregnancy.

As a result, a number of complications surface before childbirth. It may cause stool to accumulate in the channel, resulting in suffocation. It may also result in still birth and premature birth of the child.

Gallstones in pregnant women


The formation of gall stones before pregnancy as a result of accumulation of cholesterol is known as cholestasis. The symptoms are very specific and you will be able to identify them quite easily.

  • The most common symptom that pregnant women face is internal itching. You will face an irritation that refuses to subside. It is caused due to the excess storage of bile in the gall bladder, which cannot be released to digest the fat.
  • Another common symptom that you can distinguish is jaundice. It is caused due to the excess supply of bilirubin. It is produced when the red blood cells of a person are broken down. In case you notice that your skin is turning yellowish, it means that you are affected by jaundice. Apart from this, the yellow colour of faeces fades off and it looks whitish.
  • You can also identify gall bladder stones by observing the colour of your urine. It gradually turns darker in shade.
  • After you have a meal containing high fat, you will have frequent attacks of nausea and stomach pain. This occurs in the middle and upper portions of the stomach. The intensity of stomach pain may vary from cramps to sharp or mild pains. Moreover, the pain does not subside shortly and troubles the person for a long time, sometimes up to five hours.
  • Vomiting occasionally, and its intensity can increase at times. When the stones do not allow the bile to flow in the right proportion, you suffer from gall bladder attacks. People can have multiple attacks during pregnancy.

When you have these symptoms, make sure you see a physician.

Read More: 21 Common Birth Control Pill Side Effects

Treatment and cure

  • Usually, doctors prescribe ursodeoxycholic acid to women suffering from these complexities during pregnancy. However, you can go for certain home remedies as well.
  • In order to get rid of the irritation in your skin, you can soak the area in lukewarm water. Take care not to use too hot water, as the baby inside you may be affected due to the heat. Alternatively, you can also apply cold compresses.
  • In certain cases, where the symptoms are mild and the level of discomfort is not too high, the doctors recommend to wait and watch. However, too much delay is not desirable as the gall bladder cannot empty itself completely. It results in further complication and it causes infection in the foetus. Ultimately, you may have to undergo a surgery if you fail to take timely measures.

Women who have gall stones during the first pregnancy are more likely to suffer during later child birth as well. More than 50% of the women have a high probability of developing gall stones in case they have them during the first pregnancy. The best option to stay safe is to go for a diet with low fat content. It will protect your baby, besides removing your irritations and stomach pains. Always visit a doctor when the symptoms show up. It will prevent further complications leading to surgery.