Diarrhea in Early Pregnancy

Diarrhea during the first trimester of pregnancy is pretty uncommon, but nevertheless it is experienced by many pregnant women. As such the initial months of pregnancy is marked by fatigue and onset of diarrhea works as ‘icing on the cake’. Things just seem to go out of control and you would find yourself getting irritated at every small issue.

The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause diarrhea for some and constipation for other [1]. The effect of hormones will be different for each woman and therefore there is no set criterion that all women will experience diarrhea during the early weeks of pregnancy. There have been many other theories that have explained the relation between diarrhea in early pregnancy.

There is a common misconception which many tend to believe is that diarrhea during early pregnancy can be a warning signal for miscarriage. However, this is not true. Only if diarrhea is accompanied by other signs and symptoms such as vaginal bleeding with lower back ache, should it be taken seriously.

Therefore, it is advised that pregnant women should not get alarmed and should generally relax and call their health care provider whenever they get bouts of diarrhea.

Diarrhea in early pregnancy image photo picture

Causes of diarrhea in early pregnancy

Diarrhea is defined as loose watery motions more than 3 times a day that continues for a day or two [2].

There are many changes that a woman makes in her regular lifestyle after she knows that she is pregnant. These changes consists of taking prenatal multi vitamin tablets, drinking more of fluids, eating more of fruits and vegetable and an additional stroll every night after dinner [3] Little does she realize that these changes in some way or the other start affecting the working of her intestinal system. The various causes for diarrhea during early pregnancy include [4]:

Viruses

Pregnant women get more affected by viruses and hence are susceptible to catch viral infections pretty soon. Viral infections upset the stomach and which results in diarrhea.

Hormonal changes

According to the Utah Department of Health Websites, during the first trimester of pregnancy the body releases large amount of hormones that have certain affect on the working of the gastrointestinal tract.

This enables better absorption of nutrients by the fetus which helps in its growth. This effect however can sometimes be disturbing for the mother as she may have to experience bouts of diarrhea and abdominal bloating [5].

Changes in the dietary pattern

Women often make certain changes in their diet once they are certain about their pregnancy. These changes include increased intake of fruits, vegetables and water. Increased intake of fruits, vegetables and water is known for improving the bowel movement and is considered to be great for those who experience constipation during pregnancy. However, this kind of dietary pattern can also cause diarrhea in non-constipated women.

In certain cases, women also increase their milk intake for meeting the calcium requirement. During pregnancy, certain women may exhibit intolerance towards lactose sugar that is present in milk. Avoiding milk for few days can bring your gut back to normal – but make sure you take calcium from other food sources or through various supplements.

Prenatal vitamins

Pregnant women are put on prenatal vitamins until delivery. The composition and ingredients in the vitamin supplements may play foul and cause diarrhea. For example, certain women are unable to tolerate iron in the vitamin capsules and experience diarrhea. There are other ingredients too that do not suit women.

Is diarrhea a normal symptom of early pregnancy?

Yes, diarrhea can be a sign in early stages of your pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your body undergoes various changes and there is increase in the levels of hormones produced by the body [6].

There is increase in the levels of progesterone hormone that causes certain changes in the intestinal system. With increase in the hormone levels, some women may experience diarrhea or alternatively constipation.

Treatment of diarrhea during pregnancy

Many experts have recommended taking the BRAT diet. BRAT – stands for bananas, rice, apples and toast. These foods are easy to digest and do not irritate your gut lining. Spicy and fatty foods can upset your gut; this may also result in diarrhea. So it is advisable to go a bit easy on your gut, and eat food which is easier and faster to digest.

If your diarrhea is severe, your doctor may recommend certain drugs such loperamide or lomotil that would help stop your loose motions and prevent dehydration as well. It is advised that whenever you have diarrhea it is better to stay hydrated to prevent dehydration from occurring.

Consuming yogurt during diarrhea is a good idea as it is a rich source of probiotic and it is known to increase the interval between diarrhea bouts [2].

References:

  1. http://www.diarrheaduringpregnancy.net/diarrhea-during-pregnancy/
  2. http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/preg_diarrhea.htm
  3. http://www.babymed.com/pregnancy-complications/diarrhea-during-pregnancy
  4. http://www.livestrong.com/article/128256-causes-diarrhea-first-trimester-pregnancy/
  5. http://health.utah.gov/mihp/pregnancy/preged/duringpreg/discomfort.htm
  6. http://www.countdowntopregnancy.com/early-pregnancy-symptoms/symptom-chart.php?symptomid=18

Published on January 17th, 2018 by under Pregnancy.
Article was last reviewed on January 17th, 2018.

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