Women may experience diarrhea during pregnancy, especially during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. If you experience more than four liquid bowel movements in a day, then you might be a victim of diarrhea.
Although this is a usual experience, you should not ignore it considering that this condition can be life-threatening, your primary concern at this point is to stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water as you seek help from a doctor so that you don’t endanger both your life and the baby.
For these reasons, learning everything that surrounds diarrhea while pregnancy is essential. But with plenty of information available online about pregnancy, it’s hard to determine which source to trust.
If this is what’s troubling you then worry no more. You will soon realize we are your best companion throughout your pregnancy. We have your interests at heart, and today we bring you all the facts you should know about diarrhea in pregnancy.
So, read on to find out more!
One of the leading causes of diarrhea during pregnancy is feeding on food contaminated with pathogens. Therefore, monitoring what you eat during pregnancy should be your prime concern. Here are other factors that may lead to this condition during pregnancy.
Often, there is always a direct link between diarrhea and pregnancy, here are some common causes of diarrhea:
1. Sensitivity to Certain Foods
During pregnancy, your body will be adjusting to the new changes. It might become more sensitive to certain foods due to the ingredients they contain. For instance, prenatal vitamins that you may be using during this period is a trigger of diarrhea. Despite such substances being good for your baby’s development, your body may become sensitive resulting in stomach upsets.
2. A Sudden Change in Diet
Normally, as a young mother, you might be tempted to change your diet once you realize that you are expectant. While your intentions are reasonable to ensure your baby is healthy, your body might not cope well with the changes. If the change causes indigestion, then you might end up with diarrhea as well.
3. Hormonal Changes
When you enter pregnancy, your body immediately starts adjusting the hormonal levels. As a result, some hormones might interfere with the digestion process leading to diarrhea. A perfect example is the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Hormone. This hormone is responsible for vomiting and nausea. Though according to some experts, it is only possible to have diarrhea in early pregnancy. But you should not rule out the other causes of diarrhea.
What to Do If Pathogens Cause the Diarrhea?
If you consume foods with bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens, upon reaching the stomach, the body will find ways of getting rid of them. Diarrhea can be your body’s defense mechanism to flush out pathogens like bacteria and Amoeba.
The best way to go about it is to drink lots of water, eat easily digestible foods like rice, soup, and bananas.
Taking over the counter anti-diarrhea drugs is not advisable unless under doctor’s advice as they may affect your unborn baby.
Is It Normal to Have Diarrhea While Pregnant?
Yes, it’s normal. Most women experience this condition during the final trimester of pregnancy. Some medical experts suggest that this is a way that the body prepares for delivery; hence you might even suffer from diarrhea a few days before labor. You don’t need to worry about the safety of your child as it rarely results in premature birth.
Besides, it could be a sign of labor, and you should always consult your medical practitioner. However, not all women are the same. Some won’t experience diarrhea at all. So, don’t panic if you are the only one among your friends suffering from this condition.
How Can I Prevent Diarrhea During Pregnancy?
Fortunately, there are ways you can use to prevent diarrhea while pregnant. But if you already have diarrhea, then it is important to seek medical advice from your doctor.
Here are some of the preventive measures:
1. Watch the Food You Take
Only buy foods and groceries from the stores and other hygienic places.
Whenever you buy groceries from the store, wash them thoroughly. This will eliminate the chances of food poisoning which is a major cause of diarrhea. Avoid foods containing dairy products if your body is lactose intolerant. Also, eating fatty and spicy foods is not advisable during this period.
2. Cook Your Food Thoroughly
Eating undercooked food increases the risks of getting diarrhea. Although the sickness might not last for long, always prepare and store food well. Ensure that you cook the food to the recommended temperatures as this helps to reduce the risks by killing several organisms which cause food poisoning.
3. Take Prescribed Medicine
If you are feeling unwell always consult a medical practitioner. You should avoid buying over the counter drugs as they can worsen the condition. Some medications used for treating ulcers and heartburns such as Omeprazole and Cimetidine induce diarrhea. So, before taking any such drugs,
be sure to read the well the instructions to know the potential side effects section.
4. Drink Clean Water
Water is the major predisposing factor causing diarrhea. If your water source is contaminated, then you can easily contract diarrhea. It is crucial that you drink water from trusted sources during pregnancy.
5. Avoid High Sugar Drinks
High sugar and carbonated beverages are not suitable for upset stomach since the drinks can worsen the condition. Just drink pure water or any other fluid containing electrolytes.
How To Treat Diarrhea When Pregnant?
As you’ve seen, there are several causes of diarrhea; impending labor, side effects of medication, food poisoning or food intolerance. Regardless of the cause, your goal should be to stop it as quickly as possible.
But during this time, taking anti-diarrhea medication might not be safe. This means that you should use other methods of stopping diarrhea such as:
1. Drink lots of Water
The prudent decision to make when you experience diarrhea is to drink lots of water and give it time. Drinking water enables you to stay hydrated by regaining the water lost. Water is an important component of your body and losing lots of water can result in other complications.
Besides, diarrhea doesn’t last for long since your body can put up a great defense. It might persist for some few hours, a day or two; afterward, diarrhea will subside. However, if the problem persists, then you know that it’s time to consult a doctor.
2. Electrolyte-Rich Soup
You should consider drinking vegetable broth, chicken soup, and other soups. Electrolytes are crucial in nerve function and impulse. Avoid starchy and sugary foods, and they will worsen the condition. Sweet and starchy foods are poorly absorbed in the small intestines, so they cause a cramping effect.
3. Practice Hygiene
To prevent further complications in your pregnancy due to diarrhea, cleanliness should be your top priority. Make sure your cooking area is kept clean with all the utensils well cleaned. Your foodstuff should also be washed and stored correctly to eliminate the chances of contamination.
4. Drink Oral Rehydration Salts
This is a solution that contains electrolytes which helps to prevent excessive water loss. Electrolytes stabilize the water balance of your body, to help your body retain water.
Drink this solution as you wait for diarrhea to subside, or before seeking a doctor. These oral salts are available over the counter as they are easy to dilute. They also come with no side effects or contraindications in your body.
Can Diarrhea Cause A Miscarriage?
Most expectant women fear that the extreme bowel movements, associated with diarrhea during pregnancy, may result in a miscarriage. This is because the same abdominal muscles which are associated with both bowel movements and pushing the baby while in labor are in play. Also, the cramping effect of the stomach is similar to the cramping that occurs when you have a miscarriage.
However, the answer is NO as diarrhea doesn’t cause miscarriage. Even though the same abdominal muscles are involved, the digestive and reproductive systems are entirely independent of each other. So, you don’t have to worry that your condition can result in a miscarriage.
When to Consult A Doctor
Prolonged instances of diarrhea cause complications during pregnancy. At this period, the water balance in your body should be stable. Prolonged diarrhea means losing lots of water which might endanger you and the baby. This is you should be quick to know when to seek professional help.
So, when do you know it’s the right time to visit a doctor? Diarrhea is a mild condition and many you might not need to see a doctor since it’s a short term illness. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
These symptoms suggest that the diarrhea is at an advanced stage, and proper treatment is needed. If not addressed, then the condition might become severe.
Most of them are signs of dehydration. This condition may affect your pregnancy in the following ways if left untreated. You will experience frequent contractions, persistent pain in your lower stomach or pelvis, and watery, mucus, bloody vaginal discharge. See a doctor if you experience these symptoms, as they could be life-threatening. The practitioner will prescribe medicine that will not affect your pregnancy in any way.
Is Diarrhea Common Throughout the Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you undergo lots of discomforts and some are associated with your digestive system. It can either slow down resulting in constipation or speed up leading to diarrhea. This is because of the high levels of hormones; progesterone, estrogen, and Human Chorionic gonadotropin.
According to a research study conducted by the American Pregnancy Association, diarrhea is likely to intensify during your third trimester. This is because, at this period, you are approaching your due date and could be an indicator that the labor is around the corner.
But to give you a clear understanding, let’s look at the full cycle of pregnancy:
1. The First Trimester
This is the first 12 weeks into the pregnancy. The noticeable symptoms include morning sickness and vomiting. The hormone HCG causes this symptom (human chorionic gonadotropin Hormone) your body is trying to adjust to the hormonal changes during after conception. You may have fuller hair and experience fatigue. The breasts will enlarge because of the hormone hPL (Human Placental Lactogen). Diarrhea is not frequent at this stage of pregnancy.
2. The Second Trimester
At 12-24 weeks, the risk of miscarriage drops. The hormone estrogen plays a critical role in maintaining pregnancy. Apart from the instances of heartburns and other small issues, diarrhea is uncommon in the second trimester.
3. The Third Trimester
In the third trimester, that’s 24-36 weeks. Especially towards the end of the trimester, diarrhea becomes more common in anticipation for labor. It is even listed as one of the signs of preterm labor.
So, is diarrhea common throughout the pregnancy? No. Diarrhea is common towards the end of the pregnancy period as opposed to the entire pregnancy period. With this breakdown, you can easily know what symptoms to look for at a particular stage. These symptoms are caused mainly by hormones, and there is nothing abnormal about them.
The Bottom Line
It is fair to conclude at this point that diarrhea before the end of the third trimester of pregnancy, is caused by other factors not related to the pregnancy.
Most times the condition doesn’t last for long, and you might not need any treatment. If diarrhea occurs towards the end of your pregnancy period, then it is a sign of preterm labor. So, you don’t need to worry about it. But if it persists, then you should seek medical assistance from professionals.
Do you have experience diarrhea during pregnancy? Leave your opinions in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this article and thought it was helpful, please give it a share!