Is diarrhoea normal during pregnancy?

1 December, 2015 , ,

Diarrhoea is one of the most common symptoms during pregnancy: it is a very unconformable situation where the bowl movements of the mother-to-be become softer or watery and the need to go to the toilet is more urgent. As a general rule of thumb, these episodes of diarrhoea are not usually serious unless there are signs of blood in the faeces or an onset of fever and abdominal pain. Diarrhoea during pregnancy can affect a woman for the nine months of the pregnancy, but she is much more likely to be affected during the first and third trimester, which is why it is considered to be another symptom of pregnancy. In the first few months of pregnancy, the changes in the body of a pregnant woman mean that she is likely to be affected by diarrhoea during pregnancy due to nauseavomiting and poor digestion. Likewise, in the final few months of pregnancy it is normal for women to also be affected by episodes of diarrhoea. In these cases, the cause is not due to what happens in the mother’s body but rather the pressure exerted by the baby on the stomach, in view of its increased size, as this organ compresses and makes digestion even less effective. Other causes of diarrhoea in the final stretch of pregnancy may boil down to eating too much, suffering from anxiety or catching an infection.

Usual causes of diarrhoea

According to some experts, hormonal changes experienced by the mother’s body in preparation for pregnancy and maternity are the main causes of diarrhoea during pregnancy, although it can be caused by other factors.

  • Hormones: particular pregnancy-related hormones can affect the gastro-intestinal system and even lead to the swelling of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, constipation, a slow digestive system and diarrhoea. Although it causes some pain and discomfort, diarrhoea is no reason to be concerned about the health of the mother or the baby.
  • Nausea or feeling stuffed: nausea, digestive problems or vomiting result in food not being properly digested in the stomach, which means that diarrhoea during pregnancy is a consequence of food being poorly digested.
  • Changes in diet: women sometimes change their diet for one that is healthier or they choose to eat food that is high in fibre to prevent the typical constipation during pregnancy. However, a greater consumption of fruit and vegetables can cause diarrhoea during pregnancy. This is a temporary reaction of the body, which will disappear after a few days.
  • Lactose intolerance: on account of the fact that many women drink more milk, they can be affected by an episode of lactose intolerance, which in turn leads to diarrhoea. If you suspect that this may the reason for your diarrhoea during pregnancy, you can try to stop drinking milk (but continue eating food rich in calcium) to see if your regular bowl movements return.
  • Prenatal vitamins or medication: the intake of prenatal vitamins or particular medication during pregnancy can lead to changes in bowl movements. In the case of multivitamins, these contain some substances which may cause the diarrhoea during pregnancy but also iron, which causes constipation.
  • Viruses, bacteria and diseases: stomach viruses or food poisoning are a significant cause of diarrhoea in pregnant women. These women may be more vulnerable to this kind of attack. Furthermore, women with problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome or diverticulitis can suffer from occasional or chronic diarrhoea during pregnancy.

How to prevent diarrhoea during pregnancy

Diarrhoea during pregnancy can be prevented if the mother maintains a balanced diet and sticks to a series of basic hygiene rules. In terms of diet, you must not stuff yourself in a single sitting, eat in clean places and wash any fruit and vegetables that you will eat. If you are going to eat in unusual places, only drink bottled water and do not order any dishes or condiments that you are not used to.

Moreover, drinks are one of the main causes of diarrhoea during pregnancy: drinks with a high sugar content such as fizzy drinks, some fruit juices and energy drinks should be avoided. Sports drinks, however, can be a good option, as they contain electrolytes which can help you to rehydrate if you have diarrhoea during pregnancy; although you should ask your doctor before you drink them. On the other hand, control the medication you take during your pregnancy and in the months following the birth of your child. Some medical treatments can have side effects such as episodes of diarrhoea. Ask your doctor about the possibility of changing medication if it causes or exacerbates diarrhoea, or if it has side effects such as changes in bowl movements.   We hope that the information that we have provided in this post will be of some use to you. Remember that you can follow us on Twitter if you are interested in keeping up to date with all our latest news about the world of pregnant women. Igenomix is the very first company to perform non-invasive prenatal tests in Spain and deliver the results within three working days from the receipt of the sample. Blood can be taken from Monday to Friday. If you want to check the state of health of your baby in a completely safe and effective way, go to the non-invasive prenatal test website NACE for more information and discover what we can do to help you.