Dealing with Cholecystitis (Inflammation of the Gallbladder) During Pregnancy

Having any kind of ailment when pregnant can be a hassle. Some of them can prove to just be annoying (hello heartburn), which others can be downright dangerous for yourself or your child.

For many cholecystitis is something that can be chronic and continues to come back without fail. Consider what this ailment is and how to work through it as well as potential problems that can arise.

What is Cholecystitis?

Such a long name for inflammation of the gallbladder. [1] This organ itself digests fat. When women get gallstones, which is more often than men (for reasons unknown) it can develop into acute cholecystitis.

This disease gets diagnosed by having imaging done in the abdominal area including ultrasounds and potential CT scans. The main goal is to look for blocked bile ducts and inflammation.


Treatment for this is generally hospitalizations, especially if this is a recurrent problem. If you have been dealing with this for an extended period of time this will most likely be the course of action.

Once in the hospital, IV fluids will be given to give the digestive system a chance to rest. If the problem is recurring, gallbladder removal might be suggested.

How to Prevent Cholecystitis

This is generally prevented by watching your diet. Avoiding foods high in fat and cholesterol is recommended, so following a diet rich in greens and vegetables is the best course of action.

If overweight, considerations should be made for losing someone of it and getting into a healthy range, but you don’t want to do it too quickly because that too can affect the bodies chemistry.

Considerations for Pregnant Women

But what happens if you are pregnant? Does that change the bodies ability to heal and stay safe? Does it affect treatment options?

The above information gives you an overview as to what the condition itself it, without looking at specifics. But this is some of the information you’ll want to know if you are pregnant and experiencing this issue.

Recognizing the Condition

Being pregnant changes the body in so many ways. One thing to consider is that it can be difficult to detect in a pregnant woman.

Obviously, it’s not ideal to have them go through multiple tests and imaging for fear of subjecting the fetus to unnecessary radiation.

But once it is diagnosed, treatment should be. [2]

Recognizing this is pregnancy can be scary, especially when symptoms start to pop up out of nowhere. Some of the symptoms that can accompany cholecystitis would show up generally after a fatty meal and can be nausea, vomiting, severe pain in the upper right abdomen, pain that moves from your right shoulder through your back, abdomen tenderness, and fever. [3]

Some of these symptoms might be a lot like what you are feeling (especially the first two) on a regular basis, but if you notice any change you should be seeing a doctor ASAP. Not seeing the doctor can be life-threatening if not treated early on.

Treatment for Pregnant Women

Treatment as well is something that becomes a bit more difficult. If one is going to consider surgical intervention, it’s best to at least wait until a planned surgery in the second trimester instead of handling it in an emergency situation (unless absolutely necessary).

But the first course of action should also be antibiotics in hopes that it can keep the issue at bay. Generally, the only time surgery is indicated is when there are gallstones, but still monitoring at your physician is extremely important.

Something else that you may want to consider when it comes to treatment is adopting a healthier lifestyle for the rest of the pregnancy in order to keep symptoms at bay.

Consuming a more balanced, healthier diet can improve the chances of a flare-up if this is something you are waiting on surgery for. Take a chance and start walking a bit, do yoga, etc. Just keep yourself healthy and manage your weight.

Complications Can Arise

This is the issue when it comes to dealing with and treating this type of infection. If the gallbladder does need to be removed, it’s been shown that those who were in the third trimester, or had emergency surgery, tended to have premature births.

Another consideration is that when you are in the midst of a gallbladder attack as it’s generally called, the symptoms are preventing you from ingesting a healthy diet or keeping it down.

This means that the baby isn’t getting the proper nutrients that they need, or they are but they are effectively siphoning it through you.


While there are risks associated with cholecystitis during pregnancy, it mainly deals with having to have surgery during pregnancy.

That’s definitely not something that most women want, but if it’s a necessity, it’s something you’ll want to discuss in length with your doctor and OB/GYN.

If you are in the midst of an attack, do your best to get nutritious foods in you on a regular basis. While it may seem difficult, it’s the best thing you can possibly do for your little one.


  1. Cholecystitis.
  2. Cholecystitis in Pregnancy (Casey, B & Cox, S, 1996)
  3. Cholecystitis in Pregnancy.
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