diarrhea in pregnancy

Although it's probably not a daily occurrence, diarrhea in pregnancy can strike when you least expect it.

Digestive problems are very common while being pregnant and, among these, constipation seems to hog the limelight. However, you shouldn't underestimate extended loose bowel movements, which could lead to complications when not taken care of.

Having a 'rough time' on the toilet can happen anytime but, still, you should be able to distinguish occasional loose stools from diarrhoea in pregnancy. That's exactly what the following article is about!


What causes diarrhea in pregnancy?

Diarrhea can catch you by surprise due to many factors, regardless of your status as an expecting mum. Yet, there are some pregnancy-related causes for diarrhea that you need to be aware of: 

  • Pregnancy hormones: these days, hormones are playing 'rock and roll' inside your body, and that definitely has an impact on your digestive system as well.
  • Diet changes: some women implement drastic changes to their diets when they find out that they are carrying a child. Depending on the foods they introduce and how suddenly they do it, their gastrointestinal tracts can get fazed.
  • Prenatal vitamins: as healthy as they are for both you and your baby-to-be, prenatal vitamins may not sit well in your stomach, and that can turn into loose bowel movements.

If you experience diarrhea in the last weeks of your pregnancy, keep your eyes extra opened for other signs of labour, since it could be one of them! In this case, diarrhea is caused by the same hormones that cause the contractions in your uterus. 


Considering these points, don't forget that diarrhea in pregnancy can also be provoked by non-pregnancy-related reasons. The most common ones include: 

  • Virus
  • Bacteria
  • Food poisoning
  • Stomach flu
  • Medications
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Parasites
  • Conditions such as Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease

Before you come to a conclusion about diarrhea when pregnant, keep in mind that we can't talk about you having diarrhea in pregnancy unless you experience three or more loose bowel movements in one day. Otherwise, you could just be having an upset stomach, with isolated loose stools.


How can I treat diarrhea in pregnancy? 

Diarrhea isn't fun, we all know that. But at least, it generally comes and goes on its own. That doesn't mean you can pretend it isn't there. The point is for you to monitor it and realize when additional help is needed. While you are experiencing diarrhoea in pregnancy, you have different options to, at least, make the whole process gentler for your body. Try with: 

  • Staying hydrated: the first rule, and the most advisable, to fight diarrhea in pregnancy is keeping yourself hydrated. Loose bowel movements make you lose a lot of fluids from your body. Make sure you replace them by having water and liquids that contain electrolytes and minerals. Yes, keep a bottle of Gatorade at hand!
  • Waiting: though it doesn't sound like the smartest choice, most cases of diarrhea clear up in a few days. You may wake up tomorrow and it could be gone.
  • Embracing the BRAT diet, which include bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, and avoid having high-fat, spicy, high-fibre and dairy foods.
  • Changing your medication: if you start taking some new medication, your body may not react as you expected and you could suffer from diarrhea. If needed, change medication or talk to your doctor to figure out whether you can reduce the dose.

Avoid taking anti-diarrheal medication as much as possible, because it may not be completely safe for you when pregnant. Anyway, seek medical help to clear all your doubts and look for alternatives.


Is diarrhea in pregnancy dangerous for the baby?

Diarrhea alone isn't a condition to be frightened by. Nevertheless, you need to be on the lookout for how severe it is and act accordingly. Just so you know, dehydration during pregnancy can impact your baby's development. When your body lacks fluids, blood doesn't flow properly towards the placenta, and that could cause premature labour. While not common, such a worst-case scenario can be easily avoided by assuring a good hydration.


When should I worry?

If the symptoms don't diminish past two or three days and your diarrhea is intense, don't hesitate to contact your doctor. There may be a high risk of dehydration and you may need to be given serum, so your body can replace all the fluids, vitamins and minerals lost during these days.