Diarrhea during pregnancy: What moms-to-be need to know

Here's how to deal with loose bowel movements as an expectant mom

Pregnancy brings about many changes. As your body responds to sudden hormonal changes, you may find yourself experiencing overwhelming emotional and physical responses--some of these are digestive problems.

While constipation is one of the most common complaints of pregnant women, diarrhea can become a concern, too. This usually happens during the third trimester. Though it occurs less frequently than constipation, loose bowel movements can be uncomfortable and exhausting, especially if you're nearing the end of your pregnancy; the last thing you want to do is heading to the bathroom every few minutes. Plus, the danger of dehydration can be worrisome, especially because it can affect your entire pregnancy.

Note your bowel movements each day. Are you experiencing more than three loose bowel movements daily? Then you may have diarrhea. During pregnancy, diarrhea can occur as a response to dietary changes, food allergies/sensitivities, prenatal vitamins, and certain hormonal changes.

However, this digestive problem may be caused by other factors and is not always a response to pregnancy changes. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria, parasites, food poisoning, stomach flu, or certain medications.

Existing medical problems could also be to blame, like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease.

photo: dreamstime

It's natural to be wary of taking medication when pregnant, so to treat diarrhea you can try these alternatives:

1. Wait it out. Just give it a few days. Most bouts with diarrhea resolve on their own without treatment.

2. Rethink present medication. Find out if your diarrhea is being caused by any new addition to your health regimen, like prenatal vitamins.

3. Think about your diet. Are there foods that could be causing your loose bowel movements? Try steering clear of them for now. Examples of diarrhea-inducing foods are fried, spicy, high-fat, high-fiber foods as well as milk and dairy.

4. Consult your doctor. If your condition doesn't improve after three days, pay your doctor a visit to know for sure what's causing it. Before taking any anti-diarrheal medication, make sure to get the approval of your doctor.

Above all, stay hydrated! Prolonged diarrhea greatly reduces the fluid in your body. Dehydration can cause serious problems, especially for pregnant women, because they require more fluids to stay hydrated. Effects of dehydration include dry mouth, dark urine, increased thirst, low urine output, dizziness, and headaches. At least 80 ounces of water (or 10 glasses) a day is recommended to maintain normal fluid intake. But in hot climates, it's advised to increase consumption to up to 12 glasses daily. You can also drink more juice, and have soup to up your fluid intake.

sources: Healthline, What to Expect

READ: 3 Things you should remember when it comes to dealing with your kid’s diarrhea