By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause digestive issues, such as diarrhoea, constipation, and gas. Doctors consider diarrhea to be three or more loose, watery bowel movements in a day.
During pregnancy, persistent diarrhoea can lead to dehydration and malnutrition which can harm the woman and the fetus, hence should seek immediate medical attention.
Diarrhoea is more common in the third trimester
Factors Causing Diarrhoea (1).
- Diet Changes
During pregnancy most of the women prefer to change their diet in order to provide sufficient nutrients for themselves and the foetus. This sudden change of the food schedule might upset your stomach which may potentially cause diarrhoea.
- Food Sensitivities
When pregnant, women tend to seek for new foods and explore different tastes which may cause sensitivities. Foods that you never fancied before would be the one you would love to try now which might leave you with unpleasant symptoms like gas, upset stomach and diarrhoea.
- Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins is good for mother’s health as well as baby’s. However, these vitamins may upset stomach and cause diarrhea.
- Hormonal changes
Hormones may may slow down the functions of your digestive system where constipation may come up as an issue. Likewise, Hormones may also speed up the digestion which may cause diarrhea.
“A study in Nepal showed that Diarrheal illness during pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of low- birth rate infants or Small for Gestational Age (SGA) infants in rural South Asian population (2).”
Treating Diarrhoea (3)
Most cases of diarrhea will clear up on its own within a couple of days.
Keep Yourself Well Hydrated
- Make sure you drink plenty of water, juice, and broth to re-hydrate yourself and replace the electrolytes your body has lost.
- The water will help replenish the lost fluids, juice will help replenish potassium levels and the broth replenishes sodium.
- If your diarrhea doesn’t clear up on its own, consult your health-care provider.
Watch Your Diet
- Eat foods that are easy to digest and don’t irritate or stimulate the stomach and digestive tract.
- The BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) plus the nutrients in other easy-to-digest foods (potatoes, chicken and vegetable soup, lean meats) can help until diarrhea has passed.
- Stay away from fried, spicy,high-fat foods, sugars, milk and dairy, and drinks containing caffeine.
Give It Time
- If you have mild diarrhea without any other symptoms (fever, pain, cramping), you can wait a few days to see if goes away.
- Diarrhea that results from a stomach bug or food issue will often go away on its own.
How to Safely Treat Diarrhea(4)
Keep It Clean
- Loose stools can make it easier for the bacteria in the colon to travel to the urinary tract and cause an infection (UTI).
- Cleanliness can prevent the spread of germs to other parts of your body and other people.
- After using the bathroom, always clean from front to back and change the paper before wiping again.
- You will also want to keep your undergarments clean and wash your hands frequently.
Avoid Anti-Diarrhea Medication
All medications might not be considered as the safest especially when you are pregnant.
When to Call a Doctor (5)
Although diarrhea is usually not a serious issue, it can be a sign of an infection or lead to dehydration. Notify the doctor if
If diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours. Seek immediate medical care for symptoms such as fever, dehydration, bloody stools, or frequent vomiting.It is important to speak to a health expert before taking any medications for diarrhea especially during pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water and clear broths or soups can help prevent dehydration.