Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy, Suspected Gallstones

Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy, Suspected Gallstones

You have pain in your upper abdomen (belly) that may be due to gallstones. The gallbladder is an organ that stores a fluid called bile. The gallbladder sends bile into the intestines to help you digest your food. A small amount of bile sometimes remains in the gallbladder. In time, this bile can harden, forming gallstones. If stones move into the tube (duct) that carries bile out of the gallbladder, they can cause pain or infection. Gallstones are more likely to occur during pregnancy. You and your doctor will decide on the best treatment for you. Here’s what you can do to lessen your discomfort in the meantime.

Home care

Medications may be prescribed to help relieve pain. Follow the doctor’s instructions for taking these medications.

Some general care guidelines include:

  • Eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Avoid greasy or fried foods.

  • Read food labels to be sure the foods you are choosing are low in fat.

  • Limit high-fat meats, dairy products, animal fats, and vegetable oils.

  • Keep all appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition.

  • Surgery for gallstones is generally not performed during pregnancy unless they are causing severe pain or there is an infection. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor, including the following:

    • Medication to dissolve the stones

    • ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), a procedure that uses a thin tube with video and X-rays to find stones and remove them

    • Surgery to remove the gallstones

  • Even after treatment, gallstones can return.

Follow-up care

Follow up as advised by the doctor or our staff.

When to seek medical care

Get prompt medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Severe pain in the upper abdomen, shoulder, or back

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

  • Vaginal bleeding, leakage of fluid from the vagina, or lack of fetal movement