Diarrhea in pregnancy: is it normal? (main causes and what to do)
- Main causes of diarrhea in pregnancy
- What to do to treat diarrhea
- Is diarrhea in pregnancy a sign of childbirth?
- When to go to the doctor
Diarrhea in pregnancy is a relatively common problem, as are other intestinal disorders. Most of the time, these changes are related to changes in hormonal levels, new food intolerances or excessive stress and, therefore, are usually not a sign of something more serious.
However, if the pregnant woman has very frequent bouts of diarrhea or if they take too long, she may become dehydrated, which can lead to complications for the baby's development and for the pregnant woman herself.
Ideally, diarrhea should always be treated as soon as it appears, by increasing water intake and adapting food and, if possible, by eliminating its cause. Still, if the diarrhea does not improve in 3 days, it is very important to go to the hospital or consult the obstetrician.
Main causes of diarrhea in pregnancy
Diarrhea can have several causes, from food poisoning to the presence of intestinal worms. However, in pregnancy, it is more than common for diarrhea to happen due to simpler causes such as:
1. Hormonal changes
Natural hormonal changes in pregnancy can greatly alter the functioning of the pregnant woman's body, including her digestive system. Thus, depending on the stage of pregnancy, some women may suffer from constipation or diarrhea, depending on whether the hormones are causing them to delay or speed up the digestive process.
2. New food intolerances
Among the various changes that the pregnant woman may experience during pregnancy, there may also be the appearance of new food intolerances, due to the increased sensitivity of the intestine to some foods. This means that foods that were previously well tolerated may start to cause gastrointestinal changes, such as increased gas or diarrhea.
3. Changes in diet
Many women during pregnancy go through major changes in their diet, either because they want to have a healthier pregnancy or because they need to compensate for some nutritional deficiencies. These changes can also be one of the causes of diarrhea, especially during the first days of the new diet.
4. Use of supplements
The use of dietary supplements during pregnancy is relatively common, as it can help the baby's development. Although these supplements are safe and recommended by obstetricians, they can often cause diarrhea or tenderness in the stomach, especially in the early days.
What to do to treat diarrhea
Most cases of diarrhea in pregnancy can be treated at home without the need for medication, through light food and increased fluid intake. Some important tips are:
- Avoid eating fried foods, fatty foods and spicy foods;
- Give preference to cooked or grilled foods such as rice with carrots, chicken, pasta without sauce, rice flour porridge or toast with nothing, for example;
- Prefer to eat cooked and peeled fruits such as apple, pear or banana;
- Drink filtered or boiled water, homemade whey, coconut water or fruit juice.
However, if the diarrhea does not improve after 3 days or if there are other symptoms such as severe vomiting and fever, which may indicate food poisoning, for example, it is very important to go to the hospital or consult the obstetrician, as it may be necessary to start treatment more suitable with diarrhea remedies or even some type of antibiotic.
Watch the following video to learn what to eat and what not to eat:
Check out even more tips on what your diarrhea diet should be like.
Is it safe to take medication for diarrhea?
Diarrhea remedies, such as Imosec, Diasec or Diarresec, for example, should only be used under medical advice, since, depending on the cause, this type of remedy can cause the situation to worsen.
Is diarrhea in pregnancy a sign of childbirth?
Diarrhea is more common in the last trimester of pregnancy, seeming to be related to the fear and anxiety that the woman may feel about the time of delivery. In addition, some women also report increased frequency of diarrhea attacks a few days before delivery, which may be the result of brain stimulation for the body to prepare for that moment.
However, the classic signs of labor do not include diarrhea, with the rupture of the water bag and increased contractions being more common. Check out the signs of labor.
When to go to the doctor
The pregnant woman should go to the doctor when the diarrhea takes more than 3 days to pass or when other symptoms appear, such as:
- Bloody stools;
- Severe abdominal pain;
- Frequent vomiting;
- Fever above 38 ºC;
- More than 3 liquid bowel movements in one day;
- More than 2 liquid bowel movements over several days.
In these cases it is important to go to the doctor to identify the cause of the diarrhea and start the most appropriate treatment.