Diarrhea during pregnancy

Digestive difficulties, such as constipation and diarrhea, may occur frequently during pregnancy. Blame it on shifting hormones, changes in diet, and added stress. The fact is, pregnant women deal with diarrhea quite a lot, and if they aren’t cautious, it can cause problems.

Find out what you can do to ease the discomfort when it strikes.

Why diarrhea is common during pregnancy

If you experience three or more loose bowel movements in one day, you may have diarrhea. Diarrhea during pregnancy is common. However, just because you have diarrhea doesn’t necessarily mean it’s directly related to your pregnancy.

Reasons other than pregnancy include:

Certain conditions also make diarrhea more common. These include irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Pregnancy-related causes for diarrhea include:

  • Diet changes. Many women make dramatic diet changes when they find out they are pregnant. This sudden shift in your food intake can upset your stomach and potentially cause diarrhea.
  • New food sensitivities. Food sensitivities may be one of the many changes you experience during pregnancy. Foods that never fazed you before becoming pregnant may now leave you with gas, an upset stomach, and diarrhea.
  • Prenatal vitamins. Taking prenatal vitamins is good for your health as well as the health of your growing baby. However, these vitamins may upset your stomach and cause diarrhea.
  • Hormone changes. Hormones may make your digestive system slow down, so constipation may be an issue. Hormones can also speed up the digestive system, which may make diarrhea a problem.

Diarrhea is more common in the third trimester

As you near your due date, you may find that diarrhea becomes more common. That may be because your body is preparing itself for labor. Diarrhea doesn’t necessarily mean that your labor is mere days away, so don’t be alarmed by the increased frequency.

Some women will not even experience frequent diarrhea in their third trimester, though others will. Each person’s experience will be different. (Psst! For week-by-week pregnancy guidance, tips, and more, sign up for our I’m Expecting newsletter.)

Remedies for diarrhea during pregnancy

If you’re leery of medications while you’re pregnant, there’s some good news. You may not need to take any additional medications to treat your diarrhea. In fact, most cases of diarrhea clear up without treatment. However, if you need something else, a few treatments are available.

How to treat diarrhea during pregnancy:

  • Give it time. Most cases of diarrhea will clear up in a few days. This is often the case if your diarrhea is the result of food poisoning, a bug or virus, or bacteria. Keep hydrated.
  • Consider your medication. If a medication you’re taking is causing the diarrhea, your body may be able to adjust to it, and the diarrhea may stop. If not, talk with your doctor.
  • See a doctor. Make an appointment to see your doctor if your diarrhea doesn’t end after two or three days. Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and may draw blood to determine what is causing the diarrhea.
  • Avoid problematic foods. Certain food groups can make diarrhea worse. Steer clear of high-fat, fried foods, spicy foods, milk and dairy, and high-fiber foods.

Do not take an over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication without consulting your doctor. Certain conditions may be worsened by these medicines. Additionally, they are not safe for everyone.

Stay hydrated

If you’re experiencing diarrhea, it’s important to stay hydrated. Watery, loose bowel movements remove a lot of fluid from your body. Dehydration can happen quickly and be very serious, especially for pregnant women.

Even when they aren’t experiencing digestive problems, pregnant women require more water than everyone else.

Drink water to replace the fluids you’re losing. Drink juice and broth to help replace some of the electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals your body has lost.

When to seek treatment

Prolonged diarrhea can cause dehydration. If your diarrhea lasts more than two or three days, call your doctor. Severe dehydration causes pregnancy complications. Symptoms of dehydration include:

You can prevent dehydration during pregnancy by drinking at least 80 ounces of water every day.