Diarrhea during pregnancy is very common and can be due to a variety of reasons. It can be due to the changing hormones, stress, and sudden changes in diet. As your body adjusts to all the changes, it can result in loose stools and frequent bowel movements.
Diarrhea is defined as a loose or watery stool and can be associated with a frequency and urgency higher than normal. This is one of the most common symptoms women complain of during early pregnancy.
If you’re experiencing three loose bowel movements in one day, that means that you’re having diarrhea. Frequent runny stools may be your body’s normal response to pregnancy, but it can also be a signal that you’re dehydrated. You can lose a notable amount of fluids when experiencing diarrhea, so it’s important to stay hydrated.
Is Diarrhea An Early Sign of Pregnancy?
Diarrhea is one of the most common early symptoms of pregnancy, along with nausea, vomiting, food aversions, and food cravings. Diarrhea happens as a result of the increased hormonal levels in early pregnancy.
Find out more about diarrhea in early pregnancy and what can you do to ease the discomfort.
Causes of diarrhea in pregnancy
Pregnancy and diarrhea often go hand in hand. Diarrhea in early pregnancy can be due to a variety of reasons. The hormonal changes that are taking place in your body in the first trimester can cause diarrhea. The increased levels of hormones estrogen, progesterone and HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) can have negative effects on the digestive system. This can trigger other pregnancy symptoms like nausea, morning sickness, vomiting, constipation and food cravings.
Here are all possible causes of diarrhea in pregnancy:
Hormones can have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal system such as constipation, bloating, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Every pregnant woman will experience these hormonal changes, but only a few suffer from constant diarrhea in early pregnancy. Hormones can slow down your digestive system and this can be really uncomfortable. However, this is beneficial for your baby because it enables the body to absorb the nutrients he/she needs for better development.
You may have to change your diet in pregnancy so that your little one receives all the essential nutrients. You will need to eat more fruits, vegetables, and fiber. If you’re not used to so much fiber, then these dietary changes can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. However, this shouldn’t be a cause for concern, because it’s just a temporary reaction of your body and will go away after some time.
Another reason for diarrhea in pregnancy is lactose intolerance. If that’s the case, you need to stop drinking milk and increase the supplementary doses of calcium rich food.
Bacteria and Viruses
During the first few weeks of pregnancy, you’re more vulnerable to attack from bacteria and viruses. Pregnant women are susceptible to acquiring stomach bugs and getting frequent diarrhea. However, diarrhea caused by viruses is usually not very serious and will go away if treated in time. Diarrhea caused by bacteria and parasites is more serious and should be taken seriously. Contaminated water or food can transmit bacteria to your body. Common bacterial causes of diarrhea include Escherichia coli, salmonella, campylobacter, and shigella. If that’s the case, call your doctor because you may need antibiotics.
Prenatal vitamins may be good for you and your developing baby, but some of them can cause upset stomach and bad diarrhea. Iron in multivitamins can cause constipation, but there are other ingredients that can cause diarrhea too. If you suspect that the prenatal vitamins are causing your diarrhea, skip them for a few days and monitor the effects.
Treating Diarrhea During Pregnancy
In most cases, diarrhea is not serious and will go away its own within a couple of days. However, there are some natural remedies and things you can do to ease the discomfort.
- Make sure to drink plenty of water, fruit juices, and broth in order to stay hydrated. The water will help to replace the electrolytes your body has lost.
- Avoid spicy, high-fat and fried foods that can make diarrhea worse. You should also avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks, dried fruits, dairy products, and sugary foods.
- Eat foods that will soothe the digestive system such as bananas, rice, cooked carrots, yogurt, unsweetened cereals, crackers, potatoes, and lean meats.
- Some drugs and medications can cause loose stools, so see your doctor immediately, so that he/she can prescribe you a different medication.
- Ginger tea can be a great remedy. Drink ginger tea two to three times a day to cure diarrhea.
- Mix three or four tablespoons of honey in a glass of water and consume this mixture every day.
When to Seek Treatment
If your diarrhea lasts more than two or three days, you should immediately call your doctor. Your body can become dehydrated and this is a risk factor for premature labor.
Also, Watch out for the symptoms that may accompany diarrhea, such as cramping, stomach pain, vomiting, severe headache, rapid heartbeat, and mucus or blood in the stool.