Pregnancy: If it’s not coming out one end, it’s coming out the other. Some women experience nausea and vomiting, others experience diarrhea — some are lucky and suffer from both. If you have three or more loose bowel movements a day, you may have diarrhea. And while most pregnancy-related diarrhea clears up on its own, there are some things you can do to be more comfortable and avoid dehydration. Read below about one of the most common pregnancy symptoms.
What causes diarrhea during pregnancy?
Most of the time, diarrhea is caused by changes you make to your diet to accommodate your pregnancy. Maybe you’re craving greasy foods or tons of sweets; maybe it’s pizza all day, every day. It could even be your prenatal vitamins. Whatever it is, your body most likely isn’t used to it and might rebel.
Instead of cravings, you might be avoiding certain foods because they suddenly make you feel sick. Used to love fried chicken and now get sick at the sight of a crispy leg? Inexplicably want to wretch when presented with a bowl of split pea soup? Foods that never bothered you in the past can cause you to feel sick and wreak havoc on your digestive system. Taken together, your new way of eating can be a major contributor to loose stool and diarrhea.
Most women complain of diarrhea in their third trimester, as this is one of the symptoms of impending labor. This is because the chemical prostaglandin is released, which causes your uterus to contract. You might also get diarrhea right before giving labor, but it isn’t a sure sign.
Sometimes, diarrhea isn’t related to your pregnancy at all. It can be a symptom of a flu, virus, food poisoning, parasite, bacteria, or other issue. If you think you might be sick, call your doctor.
How can I safely treat diarrhea while pregnant?
The most important thing is to keep hydrated. When you’re suffering from diarrhea, you lose lots of fluids. You need to replenish those fluids, especially when you’re pregnant, so make sure to drink up. You can also consume broth and drink sports beverages to replenish your electrolytes. Dehydration can cause you to go into premature labor. If you’re drinking but still experiencing signs of dehydration, like yellow or orange hued urine, dry mouth, headaches, or dizziness, make sure to contact your doctor.
Try and eat bland foods and make the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) your new best friend. You can also try starchy foods like crackers and potatoes. Avoid fatty, greasy, and spicy foods as well as soda and sugary beverages like apple juice. You should stay away from anti-diarrhea medications that contain sodium or sodium bicarbonate.
When should I be concerned?
If you’re experiencing diarrhea for more than a day or two, call your doctor — even if you think it’s not that bad. If you see blood or mucus in your stool or the diarrhea is just watery, call your doctor. If you suspect you are suffering from dehydration, have other symptoms such as fever or vomiting, or feel contractions, reach out to your doctor.
Written by Patricia Grisafi.