Jill Duggar Dillard Shares A Scary Postpartum Health Update

Jill Duggar Dillard is used to dealing with parenthood problems. After all, she helped raise some of her 18 siblings, and now has three boys of her own. However, she just encountered an unexpected issue that may be connected to her most recent pregnancy. Dillard returned to Instagram after a brief break to share a photo of herself from the waist down, stretched out on a recliner, covered with a blanket, holding a water bottle and an empty cup of applesauce. 

The former "Counting On" star explained to her followers that she had been dealing with occasional digestive symptoms such as nausea and bloating for some time. She couldn't figure out what was causing the gut health problems, but didn't worry much about them. It had been a busy year, after all: Her husband, Derick, passed the bar exam (per People) and was sworn in as an attorney. Derick got a new job soon after, which prompted a move to a new neighborhood in June (via their blog). Most exciting of all, the Dillards welcomed their third son, Frederick Michael Dillard, on July 7. 

The weeks that followed were full of baby snuggles and proud mama pictures. Freddy hit the one-month mark gaining nearly two pounds, and his big brothers — Israel, 7, and Samuel, 5 — doted on him. "Thankful for the #littleblessings in life!" Dillard hashtagged on August 5 (via Instagram).

Then, without warning, the new mom was seized with severe pain that couldn't be ignored. She sought medical help and ended up in the operating room. 

Jill Duggar Dillard's gut problems were a gallbladder attack

On her Instagram feed, Jill Duggar Dillard revealed that the digestive symptoms she'd been suffering were actually a severe gallbladder attack. "Well... I almost made it to my six week postpartum well-check without incident, but ended up with a horrible bout of pain earlier this week that culminated yesterday in having to have gallbladder surgery!" she wrote.

The gallbladder, explains Johns Hopkins Medicine, is a small organ located just under the liver. As the liver produces bile, the gallbladder stores it and releases it as necessary to help digest food. Bile can harden into small clumps, known as gallstones; if they're too large to pass through the gallbladder, they can block it. That blockage often causes excruciating pain, usually in the upper right abdomen or even in the back and right shoulder blade. Dillard's surgeon told her that the digestive symptoms she'd been feeling for a while were very likely the signs of that "the storm might be brewing."

A common treatment for severe gallbladder attacks is to remove the organ altogether, in a surgery called a cholecystectomy. This seems to have been the case for Dillard, who asked her followers, "[H]ave you had your gallbladder removed? What helped you most during your recovery?" She also mentioned eating applesauce, vegetable broth, and mashed potatoes during her recovery, all of which are good choices after gallbladder surgery. Per the Mayo Clinic, patients should avoid eating foods high in fat, sugar, and caffeine for several weeks post-op, all of which can cause discomfort and diarrhea.

Jill Duggar Dillard's story may be helping other women

Only after her scary experience did Jill Duggar Dillard learn that her pregnancy might have contributed to the attack. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, women's risk of developing gallbladder disease is higher than men's, and pregnancy increases that risk even further. Pregnant women produce hormones that can raise cholesterol levels and prevent the gallbladder from emptying efficiently, all of which can lead to the formation of gallstones. Dillard may even have had gallbladder issues years earlier; the "Counting On" star admitted in a comment reply on Instagram: "In hindsight I think I started dealing with issues after one of my other babies...stress can make it worse too." 

Dillard added that while it's a bother having to heal all over again so soon after giving birth, "I am so thankful for good medical care & so many other little blessings along the way...help from family and friends + the relief now and thought of hopefully never having to deal with another bad gallbladder attack again!!" Sharing her story, she says, may help other women: "If you're like me and have been dealing with what you think are just 'gut issues'...maybe think again!" Dillard wrote. 

At least one follower agrees; she wrote, "Thank u for this. I will look into this. For years I've had all the symptoms you mentioned." Dillard replied, "I hate that you have had these miserable symptoms but that's why I wanted to mention them...in case it would help someone!!"