Most mothers experience constipation during pregnancy, resulting from a complication of hormonal changes in pregnancy. But at the same time, some people have a different response to these hormonal changes, and instead of constipation, they constantly experience diarrhea.
Is it normal to have diarrhea during pregnancy? What causes diarrhea during pregnancy? What causes loose stools during this period? Does diarrhea in pregnancy cause miscarriage?
Read this article to get the answers to these questions.
What is Diarrhea during Pregnancy?
Many pregnant women experience digestive problems during their pregnancy, including diarrhea, which makes them very worried and anxious. Some pregnant women experience diarrhea, especially during the first and third trimesters. Although it may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, this condition does not usually threaten the mother or baby.
However, because these problems can put the mother at risk of dehydration, it can be dangerous and should be treated immediately.
Diarrhea is an entirely normal issue during pregnancy, and it will often resolve itself as pregnancy progresses. However, if it causes an infection or is prolonged, in addition to the risk of dehydration, it threatens the health of the mother's body and the baby.
Diarrhea refers to a too loose and watery stool (bowel movement). This condition usually occurs in the first trimester and is short-lived. However, sometimes diarrhea can indicate a severe or even fatal illness or disorder. A pregnant mother who defecates watery stools more than three times a day will need to drink plenty of water.
Complications of severe diarrhea, such as abdominal and uterine infections during the second or third trimester, can also be dangerous for the fetus. Dehydration can also be a risk factor for preterm birth.
Symptoms of Diarrhea in Pregnancy
The most common symptoms of diarrhea in pregnancy include:
- Severe cramps or stomach pain
- Mucus or blood in the stool
- Severe headaches
- Severe vomiting
- Fever (higher than 100℉)
- Decreased urine volume
As mentioned above, diarrhea during pregnancy can lead to dehydration of the mother, the symptoms of which are:
- Dark yellow urine
- Dry mouth
- Constant thirst
- Decreased urine volume
Causes of Gestational Diarrhea
You may ask, is diarrhea a sign of pregnancy? The short answer is yes; there are different reasons women can get diarrhea during pregnancy. We will discuss each reason below.
Early Pregnancy Diarrhea
Hormones: After a woman becomes pregnant, her hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and human placental gonadotropin (HCG) can affect her gastrointestinal tract, which is why she experiences digestive problems like diarrhea during pregnancy.
They can lead to morning sickness, cravings, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea during pregnancy. Every pregnant woman experiences hormonal changes, but only a few develop gestational diarrhea.
Taking Pregnancy Vitamins: Prenatal vitamins are suitable for the mother and the growing baby but can sometimes upset the stomach and cause diarrhea. In this case, it is best to talk to your doctor about the type of vitamins you are taking.
Dietary Changes: Some pregnant women change their diet to get more nutrients to the fetus. This can sometimes cause diarrhea and other digestive problems. But do not worry; this is a temporary illness and will be cured in a short time. Increasing milk consumption can also cause lactose intolerance in expectant mothers, one side of which is diarrhea.
Food Allergies: Changes in the body during pregnancy can make the mother sensitive to foods that were not problematic before pregnancy. Food allergies occur during pregnancy in the form of diarrhea and bloating.
In the second trimester, diarrhea is less common. Still, if it occurs with other symptoms such as fever or pain, the mother should visit her doctor immediately as this may be a sign of an underlying infection.
Late Pregnancy Diarrhea
Most pregnant women experience diarrhea in late pregnancy, during the last trimester. Diarrhea during this pregnancy period can be a sign of the beginning of the birth process and the onset of labor pains. But this does not mean that the fetus will be born soon and immediately. Changes that occur in the body prepare the mother for childbirth.
However, diarrhea throughout pregnancy can also be caused by things that are not related to the mother's pregnancy. This can include bacteria, viruses, intestinal parasites, stomach flu, side effects of medications, and food poisoning. It can also be caused by some diseases such as Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease.
How to Prevent Diarrhea in Pregnancy
Diarrhea during pregnancy is preventable, and by following some simple tips and recommendations, it can be prevented to a large extent:
- Avoid fatty, heavy, and spicy foods because it aggravates diarrhea.
- If your body is lactose intolerant, stop drinking milk and substitute other dairy products.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages.
- Avoid leftovers and eat fresh foods as much as possible.
- Cut down on raw foods and eat well-cooked foods.
- Forget about fizzy drinks.
Home Treatment for Diarrhea during Pregnancy
There are a few things you can do to help reduce the symptoms of diarrhea during pregnancy. You should see a doctor if the problem persists. Home remedies help prevent dehydration and maintain the water and electrolytes the body needs:
Avoid laxatives: Some foods can make diarrhea worse. You should avoid eating spicy, fried, high-fat and high-fiber foods, milk and dairy products, caffeinated and carbonated drinks, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and chocolate.
Diet modification: Restricting certain foods will reduce the nutrients necessary for the pregnant mother. Therefore, changes should be made to other ingredients, including bananas, rice, apples, and roasted vegetables such as cooked carrots, starchy foods, crackers and potatoes, lean meats, and lean meats (turkey or skinless chicken breast), and soups.
Consume plenty of water: You should drink plenty of water and fruit juices to stay hydrated. Drink at least 1L every 2 hours. In addition to body fluids, water also balances minerals and electrolyte levels.
Oral rehydration therapy (ORT): ORT is a drink that people use to help them feel better when they have diarrhea. It is made from sugar, salt, and water. People with diarrhea can buy ORT at the pharmacy or make it at home. If you have vomiting and diarrhea, wait until the vomiting has stopped before you start drinking ORT.
Controlling medications: Some medications can cause diarrhea in pregnant women. Although your body will get used to the medicine over time, and the side effects will go away, it is better to take control of your medication.
- You should not take antidiarrheals without talking to a doctor during pregnancy. This is because it might make the disease worse and because some of these drugs can be harmful to the fetus.
Even though these methods can help control the situation, you may need to see a doctor for medication in severe cases of diarrhea.
Medical Treatment of Diarrhea in Pregnancy
Some pregnant women are skeptical about taking any medication. They don't like to expose the fetus to potential risks by using chemicals. But if they are suffering from dehydration, they will have to be hospitalized and given fluids through an IV.
In fact, many cases of gestational diarrhea do not require medical treatment. However, appropriate pregnancy medications should be prescribed in cases of severe diarrhea and when the mother and fetus are at risk.
Diarrhea caused by food and viral poisoning is often relieved with oral fluid therapy and the prevention of dehydration.
If the diarrhea is caused by a medication you are taking, your doctor may advise you to stop taking it or replace it with a different one.
Parasitic and bacterial diarrhea during your pregnancy may require antibiotics allowed during pregnancy.
Most prescription drugs during pregnancy are in groups B and C. This means that their harm to the pregnancy and the human fetus has not been proven yet, and they will be prescribed in cases when the risk of the disease is higher than the medicine for the mother's pregnancy. The mother should take it according to the doctor's opinion and not arbitrarily. Imodium (group B) is one of these antidiarrheals only allowed for 24 hours after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
When should I see a Doctor for Diarrhea during Pregnancy?
If you have diarrhea or experience the warning signs for more than two days, you should see a doctor immediately. Usually, diarrhea alone cannot be a concern until it turns green.
Of course, one of the reasons stools turns green is excessive consumption of chlorophyll-rich foods. For example, consumption of leafy vegetables during pregnancy, medication, and some supplements can change the color and consistency of the stool. Also, do not worry if the stools change color to black and white, which could be due to iron supplementation during pregnancy.
If you have diarrhea, it is important to stay hydrated. Diarrhea can cause you to lose a lot of water from your body. Dehydration can occur rapidly and be quite serious, especially for pregnant women. Pregnant women typically need more water than others without any digestive problems.
You need to know the symptoms of dehydration to see a doctor if it occurs. Be aware that dehydration can cause serious pregnancy complications.