Diarrhea in Pregnancy- Is it Normal? 

Diarrhea in pregnancy is another unfortunate discomfort that a female may experience.  Diarrhea is defined as having 3 or more loose or liquid bowels in a 24 hour time period. If a female experiences 3 runny, watery bowel movements in 1 day, the main concern is to drink ample fluids and stay hydrated. Due to various bodily and hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy, most females complain about diarrhea in their pregnancy. 


What Causes Diarrhea During Pregnancy?

When a female first finds out that she is pregnant, she may make sudden changes in her diet to make sure her baby is getting the necessary nutrients needed. Sudden changes in the diet can sometimes upset the stomach and cause diarrhea.

In some cases, pregnancy hormones can cause the digestive process to slow down. This can lead to diarrhea. Every pregnant female goes through such hormonal changes, but some experience diarrhea earlier in pregnancy. If the female experiences diarrhea, it can also be due to a viral or bacterial infection.

Also Read: A Healthy Pregnancy will bring a Healthy Baby- Food guide for pregnant women


Why is diarrhea common during pregnancy?

Diarrhea in Pregnancy

If the female is experiencing 3 or more loose, watery bowel movements in 1 day, she is likely to have diarrhea, which is common in pregnancy. However, just because a female has diarrhea, it does not necessarily mean that it is directly related to her pregnancy. There can be other reasons for diarrhea such as- 

  • Food poisoning
  • Stomach flu
  • Virus
  • Bacteria
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Medications

Certain conditions like IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis can also make diarrhea more common.  

Pregnancy-related causes for diarrhea include:

  • Dietary changes- Many females make dramatic diet changes in their diet when they find out about their pregnancy. This sudden change in the food intake can upset the stomach and potentially lead to diarrhea.
  • New food sensitivities- Food sensitivities are common, even in the initial weeks of pregnancy.  Foods that never bothered the female may lead to gas, bloating or diarrhea in her pregnancy. Watch out for foods that you’re sensitive to and consult your doctor if you should avoid them.  (Also Read: Foods that can harm a female’s pregnancy )
  • Prenatal vitamins- Taking prenatal vitamins is good for the females and the growing baby’s health. However, the vitamins may upset the female’s stomach and cause diarrhea.
  • Hormone changes- Hormones may make the pregnant female’s digestive system slow, so constipation is a common risk. Hormones can also speed up your digestive system, which commonly causes diarrhea. 

Symptoms  of Diarrhea in Pregnancy 

Diarrhea happens if one has bowel movements frequently and looser in consistency than they normally are. Here are the symptoms of diarrhea in pregnancy-

  • 2 or more loose or watery movements in a 24-hour time span
  • The feeling the need to run to the bathroom to poop
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain


Bowel disorders in Pregnancy

Diarrhea in Pregnancy- female on toilet seat

When diarrhea becomes more severe and gets chronic in nature, it might indicate that there is another reason behind it. Chronic diarrhea in pregnancy can be a sign of an underlying bowel disorder, like-

  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS
  • Small overgrowth of intestinal bacterial 
  • Celiac disease

The conditions mentioned above can also cause other symptoms, including-

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Gas 
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Skin and joint problems

If diarrhea is accompanied by other symptoms, see your doctor for an evaluation.


Other causes of diarrhea in pregnancy

Diarrhea during pregnancy can also be due to- 

  • Food intolerances 
  • Allergies
  • Sudden changes in diet
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Certain medications

Also Read: Pregnancy diet chart- what to eat during pregnancy

Home treatments for diarrhea in pregnancy

pregnant female drinking juice

A female can prevent diarrhea by drinking a lot of water to keep the body hydrated.  It is also suggested to drink liquids that contain electrolytes, like-

  • Broths 
  • Clear soups
  • Healthy sports drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Caffeine-free soda

Gynecologists at Pristyn Care recommend pregnant females to have a bland diet to help restore electrolytes lost due to diarrhea. Examples of bland foods are:

  • Rice
  • Plain potatoes
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas
  • Saltine crackers
  • Toast

Also, avoid trigger foods which can make diarrhea worse, like dairy products, food or beverages high in fat or sugar, and caffeine drinks.


When to see a doctor

Diarrhea in Pregnancy- female at gynecologist

Diarrhea during pregnancy can cause severe dehydration and malnutrition. This can be harmful to both the woman and fetus.

A pregnant female should get immediate medical care if she has any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood or pus in the stool
  • Diarrhea lasting longer than 48 hours
  • 6 or more loose stools in a 24-hour time
  • Fever of 39°C or higher
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Severe pain in rectum or abdomen
  • Symptoms of dehydration, like dark urine, thirst, dry mouth, lightheadedness, or urinating less frequently.


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