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Gallstones during pregnancy

(18 Posts)
babylann Mon 13-Sep-10 11:46:10

DD is 4.5 months, and me and DP have been talking about TTC our next baby (we always wanted them close together and in terms of financial security etc, now would be a good time). I should add that I'm almost desperately broody, so in an ideal world, I would get pregnant asap.

However there's a few things we need to consider and one is the fact that I've been diagnosed with gallstones. I've not yet had any attacks and at the point of taking an ultrasound for an unrelated problem, I was told I have a few gallstones, about 2mm in size.

I'm worried about getting pregnant now in case the gallstones suddenly start affecting me and I need surgery, which won't be safe during pregnancy. I've heard the pain is excruciating? I've also heard pregnancy can make any gallstones you already have become worse.

I have an appointment with a gallbladder specialist in a few weeks, so will ask him. But does anybody have any experience of gallstones during pregnancy and if so, what did you do to treat it, and did surgery ever become something you considered (I heard it's quite safe but only during the second trimester)? And, in your honest opinion having experienced them, would you recommend avoiding pregnancy in case I do start having "attacks"?

emmab5 Mon 13-Sep-10 18:05:48

Hi, I had gallstones with DC2. I didn't know i'd got them until I was 12 weeks pregnant and had such awful pain I thought I was having a M/C. It did complicate my pregnancy as it also caused an infection in my pancreas.

You heard right - the pain is excruciating and obviously I didn't want surgery until after my baby was born. Pain control options were limited too.

Once my little boy was born I could only BF for 6 weeks as I then had to start taking morphine and had many acute attacks.

Once my gallbladder was removed I felt like a new woman but they definatley complicated my 2nd pregnancy and post natal period.

I'm pregnant with DC3 now and i've got gestational diabetes which i've been told was probably caused my the problems with my pancreas in pregnancy no 2.

I've just read my post back and I don't want to scare you - honest but if I were to offer you 1 piece of advice it would be to have your gallbladdder surgery before you TTC DC2. I hope this has helped and not terrifed you

DomesticG0ddess Mon 13-Sep-10 19:05:19

Hi Babylann, I had a gallstone attack when 39 weeks pg with DS (my first pg), although it wasn't diagnosed at the time. Infact, despite having monthly-ish attacks I wasn't diagnosed with it for 2 years - a combination of the drs not picking it up, and me battling on and being busy with baby, etc. The attacks are AWFUL and I lived in fear of having one, changed my diet a lot and lost weight. Anyway, over time it gets worse and I ended up in hospital with pancreatitis (was fine), and then had my gallbladder out in Nov last year.

Now, I had been ttc before I had my op which was really silly because I knew what it was by then, and I am just so glad I didn't get pg. Infact I got pg straight after the op. But pg can definitely make it worse.

However, lots of people have gallstones but they are "silent stones" and don't bother them and the fact that you have already had one baby and they weren't set off by that pg suggests that perhaps you wouldn't have a problem. I didn't take the surgery lightly- infact I lived with the diagnosis for a whole year to see if I could manage it through diet and other natural methods (you may have come across liver and gallbladder flushes, yep, I did those!) because I wanted to avoid surgery. And like you I really wanted to become pg. I had a lot of stones in my gallbladder, not a few. So I don't want to say "yes, definitely have the surgery" if it is not necessary. But at the same time, honestly, it is awful having them and it's such a relief to not live in fear of an attack now! With hindsight, I wouldn't be so quick to want to conceive and see what happens for a while, but I completely understand your predicament re: age gaps etc (I didn't follow this advice myself, but was so lucky I didn't get pg before the op as this pg could have been truly awful otherwise).

Talking things through with the specialist will help, although I don't know if they can predict whether your stones could be a problem in the future. It's a really tricky one, sorry to ramble on and not really be much help. confused

Liv77 Mon 13-Sep-10 21:01:37

My friend is due next month and has been diagnosed with gallstones whilst pregnant, if she has a bad attack she may need to have an emergency C-section, and is she can hold out for a natural birth will need to have her gallbladder removed asap after the birth. I would def. get it sorted out before you try for DC2 if you have the choice.

Lynli Mon 13-Sep-10 21:07:06

I had a gallstone attack whilst pregnant with DS at 24 weeks, absolutely hideous.

It settled down and didn't give me any problems until about a year ago. I am awaiting removal at the moment.

I went to see the Surgeon a couple of weeks ago and he said nearly everyone has gallstones to some extent and never know about it. I have too many to count. So it may be your gallstones will remain asymptomatic.

I would wait until you have seen your specialist and take his advice. I would not want to have a gallstone attack whilst pregnant, it is agony.

MammyG Mon 13-Sep-10 21:28:57

I had problems with my gallbladder before I got pregnant but the actual cause is still undiagnosed. If you can hold off for a while and deal with the gallstones first than do. The first 20 weeks of this pregnancy are simply a painful blur. The attacks themselves are scary but they can vary so much in pregnancy. I didnt gain any weight at all until 20 weeks I was so ill. The attacks are simply frightening because you are in so much pain and then there is your baby to consider. I was told the bigger the baby got the worse my attacks would get. For me that thanksfully has not been the case. Im due next week and it is hanging over me that I may not be able to BF successfully or even enjoy the newborn period because of recurring attacks. A lot women need to have the gallbladder removed before the baby is 2 months old. I dont mean to frighten you but if I had know what I know now I prob would have waited. I wouldnt wish what I have been thru on anyone. That said and done tho so far my babies development etc has been perfectly normal. Also just to let you know no matter how much pain you are in unless there is an actual life threatening risk to you and the baby they will not operate. Another consideration is work - I had to take a lot of leave as did my husband because when I was at home ill I was incapable of standing straight let alone minding our other children. Sorry again to be so dramatic but like I said .. id I had know what I was in for. Best of luck

jwiggles Tue 14-Sep-10 11:32:12

Definately have the gallbladder removed before getting pregnant again if you can...

I have gallstones, diagnosed through a private scan as Dr's couldnt find anything wrong with my terrible pain, at about 12 weeks.

I have had many bad 'attacks' and the worst one lasted 4 hours and I was eventually taken into hospital, by blue lights!

They can range from 30 mins to 4 hours and I live in constant fear of getting one as they are so excruciating.

I dont want to scare you, but if you can get your gallbladder sorted, it will be one less thing to worry about when pregnancy is such a worry from day one anyway!

Im now 31 weeks and cant wait to have the baby so I can get this gallbladder out!

Good luck ! x

weegiemum Tue 14-Sep-10 11:40:03

It was kidney stones I had in pregnancy, not gallstones, and I would advise that if you can avoid this level of pain in pregnancy, then do. Its utterly terrifying, adn I was in such pain that I was on loads of painkillers (this being better for baby's stress levels than bearing the pain) but ended up in an air transfer to a bigger hospital at 8 months pg due to the possible effects on the baby of the morphine I was on (she was fine!)

I woudl get it sorted out before I got pregnant again, if I were you!

Good luck!

bakingtray Tue 14-Sep-10 11:50:20

I was diagnosed with gallstones at 16 weeks with DC3. Taken in on blue light in middle of night after a very sore couple of days with the pain eventually peaking. Given morphine in hospital. They thought it was an ectopic pregnancy at first. Anyway I was told that the hormone, relaxin I think, causes any stones that are there to attempt to come out. But I was eating a lot of high fat food - obviously making the most of eating for two! and this really exacerbated it. Cut right back on the fat and didn't have any more problems though was monitored closely. (Still have sore twinges if fat content goes into overload!)

babylann Wed 15-Sep-10 16:29:53

Thanks everyone for the replies. It's really good to hear from people who've experienced it themselves. I had a very difficult pregnancy (SPD and pre-eclampsia) so I'm very reluctant to have a second pregnancy which could potentially be worse. I'll have to speak to my specialist about it when I go in 2 weeks time. Truth is though, I can't sit around waiting for the gallbladder to be removed as these may remain "silent stones" for a good decade if not longer and they're not going to do the surgery on gallstones which aren't bothering me, and I definitely don't want to wait that long to have another baby. I guess when I do start TTC I'll have to be very careful with my diet and just cross my fingers that they stay "silent".

To be honest, my yearning for a second baby and a more complete family probably outweighs my fear of the pain. However, I think it would benefit me if I could request another ultrasound scan a week or so before I start TTC just to check they haven't got bigger. Honestly just hoping I go for a second scan and they've passed on their own. But is that possible if you haven't felt any pain?

On another note, I did have a very sharp pain in my right side, a couple of inches below the boob, last night. It was shocking but it wasn't excruciating, which made me think it wasn't gallstones, but maybe it was? Can the attacks vary in severity?

Kity Wed 15-Sep-10 17:29:46

Hi there,
I started having attacks AFTER I had DC1 and after a private scan was diagnosed with polyps on my Gallbladder, which when irritated cause the same pain as gallstones. I had quite a few attacks straight after my son was born and on one occasion was blue lighted to hospital.

Trust me, no one is exaggerating when they say how horrifically painful it is, and with respect, when you say that you're desire to have another baby outweighs your fear of the pain, I suspect this is because you haven't had an attack. I told the doctor in A&E that I would rather have had continuous contractions than that pain, it really is horrible!!
I gave birth to DC2 3 weeks ago and I am currently living in fear of another attack! I am booked in to see a consultant to discuss where to go from here but I will most definitely be having it out! I've been told that the hormones of pregnancy and also the fact that most of your internal organs are pushed about during pregnancy and afterwards (when everything is returning to its normal position) is what can cause some stones/polyps to flare up.

What I would say though, is if you have gone through a pregnancy already with no problems and they have diagnosed you with silent stones then the chances are you probably wont suffer with them? Obviously Im not an expert but I would say that things will probably go in your favour but may be worth speaking to a specialist just to check.

I really really hope that your stones behave themselves coz it truly is the worth pain ever!
Best of luck

DomesticG0ddess Wed 15-Sep-10 17:30:12

I don't think you can pass the gallstones without the pain - that is what causes the pain in the first place. Oh, actually, you can - the liver flushes - I passed some painlessly whilst doing that, but the whole thing is not pleasant and to be honest if you don't have any symptoms I wouldn't recommend starting to try flushes or anything like that, incase you trigger them. Attacks can vary in severity yes, but do all tend to be very painful, but vary in length. Sometimes it is just the gallbladder contracting on the stones, rather than a stone actually escaping. That sounds like the right place for an attack, but was not necessarily. I think you would know if you had an attack - it's not just the pain, but sweating, shaking, puking at the same time.

girliefriend Wed 15-Sep-10 17:44:09

hello another gallstone victim here, started getting attacks at about 4 months pregnant and thought I was dying or having a heart attack, pain was like being crushed - slowly! Horrific, the drs wouldn't consider operating on me while I was pregnant so I had to take pethidine (not ideal) when I had an attack approx once a week. It also had a detrimental effect on the birth and my waters went early, labour wasn't progressing and eventually with my baby in distress had to have an emergency cc!! When my dd was 2 wks old I was rushed back into hospital for an emergency cholecystectomy (gallbladder removel) All in all I wouldn't recommend it!

If I were you I would explain your concerns to the dr and push for removel before trying for a baby.

babylann Wed 15-Sep-10 18:56:40

Surely they wouldn't operate if I wasn't having symptoms though? They wouldn't even induce me when I was pregnant and diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, I almost went the full 2 weeks overdue with nothing but one membrane sweep offered to me; I guess they prefer to wait until there's no other choice or something.

If the option to have the surgery was possible though, that would be best really. I have an obvious concern about a surgical procedure, particularly as my aunty apparently almost died having her gall bladder removed due to a peculiarly located artery being snipped. But I'm so terrified of the pain, and having been diagnosed with these gallstones I feel like a walking time bomb, like it's only a matter of time. And that freaks me out.

pregnantpause Wed 15-Sep-10 19:12:27

Just to add , I had gall stones after pregnancy, and only had two attacks. But the second resulted in pancreatitus, which has led to my having trouble to get life insuranceeven though I am only 23 and otherwise healthy . I'd say that you should wait to see the consultant before getting pregnant because its not just the pain of having an attack that you need to consider, its what you would do if those attacks resulted in a more serious conditions. Pancreatitis is very very serious.

PamSco Wed 01-Jun-11 09:16:56

I know this is an old thread but it still comes up through google. Anyone in this position, please please get both an obstetric and surgical consultation if you have gallstones and trying to get pregnant. I am in and o9ut of hospital with attacks and I'm only 16 weeks - I have c6 months of painful hell ahead of me. Trying to manage through diet but that is not a fail safe method.

I didn't know I had stones before I was pregnant and I have 1 larger stone probably silent but the sludge that is passing is crippling. Get the consultant to tell you the risks of attacks for the type of stones you have. I have no way of knowing whether I had the sludge (small gravelly stones) before I was pregnant but I would not wish this pain and misery on anyone.

PipCarrier Wed 01-Jun-11 13:08:28

Pamsco I can sympathise, although I had gallstones before I fell pregnant, I know how excruciating the attacks are. If it's any consolation at all then my gallstone attacks were more painful than childbirth so if you can put up with them you should breeze through labour. Good luck x

PamSco Thu 02-Jun-11 19:40:45

Pip I am kind of taking that as a silver lining, but I didn't cope with the attack pain very well and ended up on tramadol. So maybe my natural birth lan needs a revisit smile

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