Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life. A woman’s body miraculously adapts to a fertile environment that is capable of growing a human being. There are many changes that occur in a woman’s body throughout the forty (or so) weeks of pregnancy. One issue a woman may find herself dealing with is diarrhea during pregnancy. If this happens to you, then you may wonder if it is normal to have diarrhea during pregnancy. Rest assured, that it is a normal issue of pregnancy, along with swollen ankles, feeling tired a lot of the time, and having morning sickness. It is also important to figure out what is causing the diarrhea and the best way to deal with the symptoms. Below are some ideas and interesting facts about experiencing diarrhea during pregnancy.
What Causes Diarrhea During Early Pregnancy?
Although diarrhea during pregnancy can be unpleasant, it is often a common problem for many women. Diarrhea is usually an issue that is short-lived during pregnancy, but you should be aware of complications if it lasts longer than a couple of days or reoccurs often.
There are multiple reasons why diarrhea is often an issue during pregnancy. Some of these reasons include; changes in diet or foods, additional stress, medications, and a powerful change in hormones. A woman who is pregnant may also develop gastrointestinal sensitivities to certain foods that have never bothered her before she became pregnant. Diarrhea in early pregnancy can be especially noticeable because hormone surges are common during that stage. These surges are from the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin).
A pregnant woman who has begun a regimen of prenatal vitamins may also be having some adverse reactions to the enhanced nutrients. Prenatal vitamins provide very good and well-balanced nutrients for your body, but they can cause an irritation for your stomach when you first begin taking them. If this occurs to you, your body should adjust within a couple of days. If your body doesn’t adjust, then you and your healthcare provider may decide to try another brand of prenatal vitamins. If diarrhea symptoms do not improve within a couple of days, then you need to figure out what is happening with your body, and why.
Will This Condition Harm My Baby?
Experiencing too much diarrhea can be harmful, if you allow the symptoms to persist for too long of a time period. Otherwise, experiencing diarrhea during pregnancy is not usually harmful to the fetus. The main problem that occurs from having diarrhea is dehydration. It is very important to drink plenty of fluids in order to replace the liquids that your body has lost
due to diarrhea. Professionals recommend drinking approximately one liter of water every two hours, in order to prevent dehydration. Clear-broth soups, juices, popsicles, unsweet and decaffeinated teas, and fruits, will help rehydrate your body, too.
As you rehydrate your body, you improve the physical environment for your baby, as well. Professionals also recommend eating the BRAT diet when you are having gastrointestinal problems. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. All of these foods, and ones that are similar in taste and blandness, help balance the acidity that can build-up in an irritated gastrointestinal tract. Dry crackers are also a good food source to have handy because they are very good at settling an upset stomach, and they are simple to carry with you at all times. Diarrhea should clear up within a couple of days.
However, if diarrhea persists longer than that, it is very important for you to contact your physician. The doctor may want to test you for a bacterial infection or decide if you have a virus, stomach flu, or even been exposed to food poisoning. All of these conditions can be treated or will pass naturally, but they should be addressed with your health care provider.
When should you seek help from a health professional?
In addition to diarrhea lasting longer than two days, there are other symptoms that you should be aware of, as they may alert you to a more serious condition. If you experience a fever of 100 degrees or more, have abdominal cramping, headaches, vomiting, decreased urine flow, or blood in your stool, then you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. A quick call to your physician’s office, as you explain your symptoms, should be enough for him/her to decide if you need to come in for a visit immediately or just keep a close eye on things as they progress. You should not feel like you are bothering your doctor at his/her office, because it is always the best practice to be safe than not safe, especially when there are concerns about your pregnancy. If your doctor does not address your concerns satisfactorily, then you should probably seek a second opinion.
On a side note, do not panic if your bowel movements change color. You may notice a green or black stool periodically. This is most likely due to the iron-rich foods or vitamins that you’ve been taking during the pregnancy. These colors should disappear and your stools should return to their normal color fairly quickly. If this does happen to you, just consider the iron-rich foods that you have had recently, or the vitamin supplements that you have taken. The unusual color of your stool should coincide with the intake of foods or vitamins that you have digested.
Are there foods to avoid?
Other things that you can do to help alleviate diarrhea symptoms include; avoiding foods that are high in fat, spicy, or fried. It is also wise to avoid some dairy products while diarrhea persists, and avoid chewing gum that has the ingredient sorbitol. Sorbitol is a sugar substitute that has been known to cause diarrhea in some people, so it is best to avoid items that contain this ingredient when you are experiencing diarrhea yourself. Energy drinks and sugary, carbonated drinks can also upset your stomach, so these types of drinks should be avoided. All of these items can trigger an upset stomach or gastrointestinal irritation.
Sometimes it can also be beneficial to eat several small meals a day, instead of two or three big meals. Nibbling on foods that your body can tolerate, should alleviate some of the upset stomach symptoms that you have been experiencing.
If you have feasted on some foods that have upset your stomach, then just switch back to more basic choices for your next meal. Try some starchy foods, such as; crackers, pastas, and potatoes. Lean meats are also a good choice, as are soups that contain rice and vegetables. Yogurts that contain active live cultures of Lactobacillus Acidophilus should also help improve diarrhea during pregnancy fairly quickly.
Diarrhea During the Third Trimester
Diarrhea can be especially common during the third trimester of pregnancy. Frequent diarrhea during this stage, does not necessarily mean that labor is going to occur in the immediate future. Diarrhea is often a side effect of the size of the baby in relation to the rest of your internal organs, as well as your body preparing for labor, and those everchanging hormone levels of pregnant women. It is important to monitor yourself closely during this trimester and remember to replenish your fluid intake every day. Dehydration during the third trimester can trigger your uterus to begin contractions. This is another reason why it is vital to keep your fluid intake heavy and consistent, even though you probably feel like you already have to go to the bathroom all the time already. Remember, every pregnant woman will not experience diarrhea during her third trimester, because each body responds differently to the pregnancy stage of life.
A very important tip to remember throughout your pregnancy, if diarrhea is bothersome to you, is that it is very important to consult your physician before taking any antidiarrheal medication. Some medications have adverse reactions for women that are pregnant or to the unborn fetus; therefore, always communicate with your healthcare provider before taking any type of medication.
Traveling Diarrhea During Pregnancy
If you find yourself traveling, especially overseas during your pregnancy, then there are some things that you can do to avoid having diarrhea while you are traveling. First and foremost, try to remember not to drink tap water when traveling abroad. You should also avoid eating produce that has been washed with tap water. It is wise to avoid buying food items from street vendors, but instead have your meals in well-established restaurants. Any person can easily become ill while they are traveling, but when you are pregnant, it is important to be extra vigilant in order to avoid diarrhea or other illnesses.
In conclusion, although diarrhea can be troublesome and inconvenient to you, it should be a controllable issue as long as you stay hydrated and monitor yourself closely. Do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider regarding any concerns that you have, and definitely report any problems that arise throughout your pregnancy and beyond. As a new mom-to-be, it is imperative that you do what is best for you and your developing child. After all, your child is depending on you.