Diarrhea in Pregnancy: The Smart Guide
You may have heard about constipation occurring while you are pregnant, but did you know that you can also experience diarrhea during early pregnancy as well?
When you are pregnant, your digestive system functions differently, which is part of the reason that you may experience diarrhea.
If you do experience this uncomfortable symptom, it is not dangerous to your baby.
There is a myth that having diarrhea during early pregnancy is a sign that you are going to miscarry the baby, but the truth is that there are several reasons that you could have digestive issues while carrying your baby.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that you could be experiencing diarrhea during early pregnancy.
Changes in Your Diet
When you found out that you were pregnant, did you change the food that you were eating at all? Many soon to be mothers tend to change their diet quite a bit so that they are eating the nutritious foods that they want their babies to have while they grow.
If you ate a lot of burgers and fries, and you switch to eating salads and chicken, your body will need to adjust to the change.
A lot of times diarrhea or constipation can occur because of the diet change. It will only last for a short period of time, but it will be noticeable during the early stages of your pregnancy.
One of the first things that occur when you are pregnant is hormonal changes. It is part of the change that your body will go through in order to carry your baby to full term.
This change does not affect each woman the same way, but it can result in morning sickness, nausea, and diarrhea.
These symptoms will not last throughout your entire pregnancy, once your body gets used to the hormone changes in your body, they will most likely subside.
Change in Medication or Vitamins
Some medications cause diarrhea, so if your doctor has you taking any medication while you are pregnant, check to see if diarrhea is a symptom.
If it is, talk to your doctor to see if there is an alternative that you can take. In most cases, the symptoms are not long lasting.
The prenatal vitamins that you most likely started taking recently may also be the cause of diarrhea.
Of course, they are good for you and the baby, but if you are not used to taking vitamins, they could cause your stomach discomfort, which can lead to diarrhea.
This can make you more regular while you are pregnant, but it can also give you diarrhea for a short period of time.
Because your body is going through all of these changes to help your baby grow, you may find that you have some food sensitivities that you did not have before.
It may not make you ill to the point that you are vomiting, but it could cause excess gas and diarrhea.
One of the most common food sensitivities that cause diarrhea comes from milk and dairy products.
When you are pregnant, you drink more milk so that your baby’s bones can grow, but that increase in milk can cause you to have lactose intolerant symptoms, even if you never experienced them in the past.
You could simply have caught the stomach flu as well.
It is not the best situation to be in when you are pregnant, but if you catch a stomach bug, then talk to your doctor to find out which method of getting healthy again is going to be safe for the baby.
What can be done to alleviate diarrhea during early pregnancy?
Well, the obvious way to stop having runny stool is to prevent diarrhea before it begins.
You can do this by avoiding foods that are causing you to have these symptoms.
How to Alleviate Diarrhea
Some of the foods that should be avoided are those that are high in fat content, spicy foods, red meats, foods that are high in sugar, dairy products, carbonated beverages, and caffeinated drinks.
If you already are experiencing diarrhea symptoms, then there are some things that you can do to soothe your digestive system.
When you have diarrhea, you lose a lot of the electrolytes that are in your body. This can cause you to become dehydrated, which is why one of the best ways to fight diarrhea and get rid of the symptoms is to keep your body hydrated.
Since you are pregnant, you already should be drinking a lot to maintain the fluids that your body needs, but if you have diarrhea, you need to ensure that you are staying hydrated.
In addition to drinking a lot of water, drink some natural fruit juices as well to help replenish the potassium in your system as well as other vitamins and minerals that you need.
Another great option when you are feeling dehydrated from having diarrhea is to drink some broth.
This can be broth that you make at home for a soup or some simple chicken broth from a can, either way, drinking broth is a great way to ensure that you can replenish your sodium levels.
When you have diarrhea, your digestive system is often irritated.
This makes it difficult to eat without irritating your stomach further, which is why most doctors recommend that you eat the BRAT diet for a little while; just until your digestive system has recovered a bit.
BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These are plain foods that have basically no spice to irritate your stomach.
The downside to this diet is that it does not provide all of the nutrients that you and your baby will need, so if you need to stay on the diet for more than a day, you should add in some supplementary foods that give you the nutritional value that you need.
Some good foods to add are cooked carrots, noodles, potatoes, crackers, lean meats, unsweetened cereal, and plain yogurt. If you are feeling up to the task, you can combine some of these ingredients to make a delicious soup.
The CRAM diet is another alternative that will be gentle on your stomach.
CRAM stands for cereal, rice, applesauce, and milk. These foods are gentle, but they contain more protein than the options in the BRAT diet. If you are having issues digesting milk, this may not be the best option for you.
Since this diet is higher in fat and protein than the BRAT diet, it tends to work a bit faster. Once the diarrhea that you are experiencing begins to decrease, you can slowly start introducing new foods to your system again. Bland options are going to be best at first.
There are a lot of medications that you can take for diarrhea, but since you are pregnant, you should be aware that not all of the over the counter options are going to be good for your baby.
Many doctors recommend medications that contain kaolin or pectin like Imodium for mothers to be instead of options with bismuth like Pepto Bismol.
Home Remedies to Try
Ginger tea is a great option when you have digestive woes. It will help to soothe your stomach and eliminate the diarrhea symptoms that you are experiencing.
Make sure to sweeten it with honey because the natural sweetener will not irritate your digestive system.
If ginger is not an option for you, try adding a few drops of peppermint extract into your tea or water. The peppermint will soothe your stomach whether it is served in a hot or a cold drink.
Is Green Stool Dangerous?
Green stool is nothing for you to worry about. In most situations, the color of your stool will change based upon the foods that you are eating.
This means that when you started eating a lot of vegetables at the beginning of your pregnancy, the iron in these foods had an effect your digestive system.
Your body should adjust, but if you are concerned that it is lasting too long, talk to your doctor.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Diarrhea is not dangerous for the baby unless it is experienced for a long period of time.
The longer you have the symptoms, the more likely it is that you will become dehydrated, which can cause harm to your baby.
If you experience any of the following symptoms in addition to the diarrhea, you should speak to your doctor about it immediately.
- A fever that is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Severe pains of cramping in your stomach.
- Any blood in your stool.
- A rapid heartbeat when you are resting.
- Severe headaches that cause vomiting.
- Symptoms of dehydration such as reduced urine.
Diarrhea can be unpleasant, but if you are experiencing it during early pregnancy, there is typically a reason why.
There is no cause for concern because it is often the result of the changes that your body is experiencing.
However, you still need to alleviate the symptoms quickly. Here are some tips to help:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Drink broth and liquids with electrolytes to help you stay hydrated.
- Utilize the BRAT or the CRAM diet until your digestive system is not quite as sensitive.
- Drink ginger tea with honey.
- Sucking on peppermints or adding peppermint extract to your water can help.