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Bowel Movements During Pregnancy
As far as symptoms associated with pregnancy are concerned, disturbed bowel movements do top the list. While most of us know that constipation troubles a pregnant woman a lot, diarrhea is no less the partner in crime. It is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. As a result of sudden diet change, increased water intake and of course, hormonal shifting, stress and other significant reasons, diarrhea can make you get ‘on-the-go-to-the-loo’ quite often when you are pregnant.
Diarrhea and its medical explanation
Regarding medical science, you are most likely to be suffering from diarrhea if you have 3 or more watery, runny or loose stools throughout 24 hours. If you are on the same boat with this explanation, then pay attention and stay hydrated, as much as possible. Or else, you can aggravate your health. Always remember – dehydration can be serious for both you and your baby. So, make sure to keep your fluid intake high.
What Causes Diarrhea During Pregnancy?
There can be some reasons behind the occurrence of diarrhea during pregnancy. Also, just because you have got loose motions when your tummy is carrying your baby doesn’t mean that your pregnancy is solely responsible for the same. It could be something else too, like –
- Food poisoning
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Stomach flu
- Certain medications
- Intestinal parasites
- Ulcerative colitis
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
Among the pregnancy-associated reasons that lead to loose-motions, the following are the major ones –
1. Dietary changes –
Some women make drastic changes to their diet on discovering that their pregnancy test is positive. Some even start eating things that they haven’t had or don’t like to have before. This dramatic shift in their dietary pattern can be a potential reason behind diarrhea.
2. Food sensitivity –
Developing sensitivity to certain food items is pretty much common with pregnant women: stomach upset, acidity, flatulence, gastric issues after eating food that never caused any issue before conceiving can become a common affair with pregnant women. And, any food-related sensitivity can be a cause behind getting loose motions.
3. Hormonal changes –
When you are pregnant, your entire hormonal organisation changes, as a result of which the digestive function of your body also slows down. This go-slow is in a way good for the developing embryo as it helps the baby to extract nutrients from your food in a more efficient way. But it tends to constipates your stomach. Just like this go-slow thing, hormonal changes can also speed-up your digestive functions leading to runny stools.
4. Prenatal vitamins –
Prenatal vitamins are prescribed to would-be mommies because these supplements are good for them as well as their babies’ health. However, these supplements may lead to diarrhea. Normally, your body should get accustomed to these medications in a couple of days. However, if it doesn’t and diarrhea continues to bother you, and you think that it’s because of those supplements, then do not forget to tell this to your doctor. In that case, your doctor may prescribe some other brand or a gentler medicine.
5. Lactose intolerance –
Most women, tend to add milk or increase the quantity of milk in their daily diet on knowing that they are pregnant. In case, you are lactose intolerant (that means your body does not produce enough lactase, an enzyme to break down the lactose in milk), then you might get loose motions. So, you can stop having milk or dairy products for a day or two in such a condition. However, it is very important to have dairy products in your diet like yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese to meet the calcium requirements of your body.
Diarrhea-management should be your go
Be patient! Yes, it is the key to a peaceful pregnancy. Symptoms like diarrhea and constipation go away in some days. So, give time to your body to get accustomed to newness of being a mother. Here are some tips to keep your discomfort and trips to the loo away that you can resort on. Take a look –
- Hydration is crucial – One of the most important things you need to take care of when you are suffering from diarrhea during your pregnancy is keeping yourself hydrated. Make sure to drink a lot of water, juice, and soup to replenish the electrolytes that are lost because of your frequent bathroom runs. Maintaining the sodium-potassium balance during pregnancy is another matter of concern. Don’t worry have enough juices and soups, the former will take care of the potassium level, and the latter will do the same for sodium.
- Steer off from the food that irritates your bowel function avoid the food items that you know can cause trouble, like sugary drinks, carbonated drinks, spicy and fat-laden food etc. These can aggravate your health condition. Therefore, you should adhere to food and dishes that are gentle on your tummy. Why not try the BRAT diet? What’s that? BRAT means Banana, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. Some doctors suggest the BRAT diet to pregnant women. However, as these food items are not enough to provide you and your baby with enough nutrients, doctors also advice taking veggies, lean meat, soups with veggies and rice noodles and starchy food.
- Consider what your medications are indicating – If you blame your diarrhea on the medications you are having, then probably your body will acclimatise with it in some days, and your loose motions might stop. If this approach doesn’t work, go to your doctor right away.
Turn to Home Remedies for Diarrhea During Pregnancy
When you are carrying a baby, it is highly advisable not to resort on over-the-counter medicines as these can lead to long-lasting side effects. Therefore, turning to your kitchen ingredients is the best thing to do. Let’s help you get some home remedies straight from your kitchen –
- Water, water, everywhere and this time to drink – Jokes apart, you should drink a lot of water to compensate the fluid loss your body goes through due to loose motions.
- Keep some ginger rhizomes handy – Ginger is known for its anti-spasmodic properties. So, include ginger tea in your diet. To get this gingery beverage ready, you need some ginger, tea leaves, and boiling water. Just mix these three ingredients, boil and let it stand for some time, say 10 minutes. Thereafter, strain the concoction and drink with or without sugar or honey.
- Maybe some honey in warm water – Honey, as we all know is power-packed with antibacterial properties and loads of antioxidants. Having a glass full of lukewarm water with 3 to 4 gallons of honey can boost your immunity and make your tummy healthy.
- A dash of lemon – Researches has found that lemon is a very good liver stimulant. It is found to be effective in treating IBD (Irritable Bowel Disorders) and controls watery stools. Blend lemon juice with 1/4th teaspoon black pepper (crushed) and ½ teaspoon ginger (powdered) and have it twice a day.
- Give psyllium husk a try – The anti-diarrheal properties of psyllium husk allow it to soak the water and liquid contents from your intestines thus controlling diarrhea.
Some facts you should know when pregnant
Your third trimester and diarrhea – Did you know you are more prone to get diarrhea as you approach your due date? Yes, during the third trimester most women tend to suffer from diarrhea. Experts say that it is because the body is getting ready for labour. For some women, it can be true, but not all. So, if your due date is near and you are fed up of your frequent trips to the toilet, please don’t get alarmed because it is not necessary that your diarrhea indicates that you are going to get labour pain soon. Dear reader, not every woman is the same, so is her pregnancy and her journey to motherhood.
Beware of ‘Traveler’s Diarrhea’ – Traveler’s diarrhea can show-up anytime while travelling, whether one is pregnant or not. It is a common health condition that affects a large number of travellers every year. However, if you are pregnant and need to travel, then you should be very careful as Traveler’s diarrhea can disturb you at any point of time (especially if you are travelling to high-risk zones like Middle East, Asia, South America, and Africa). To stop Traveler’s diarrhea from bothering you, keep these tips on your mind –
- Try not to drink and brush using tap water.
- Don’t eat junk or street food.
- Don’t urinate in places where there is a lack of proper sanitation.
- Don’t eat peeled fruit.
Keeping all these things on your mind will help you deal with bowel issues that pop-up during your pregnancy. Stay aware and enjoy a healthy pregnancy.