Diarrhea During Pregnancy: Causes & Treatments

Diarrhea During Pregnancy: Causes & Treatments

Most pregnant people tend to experience diarrhea during pregnancy, so you’re certainly not alone.

But why?

Well, that same area of muscles responsible for pushing that little one of yours out into the world is, well, good at helping to push… other things out, too.

As if growing a whole human wasn’t challenging enough on its own, you now also have to deal with diarrhea during pregnancy. What fun.

It’s pretty insane how much talk there is about pregnancy and nausea, and how little there is about diarrhea when pregnant.

Perhaps it’s the timeless taboos around ladies and pooping that have silenced us when it comes to discussing diarrhea during pregnancy.

Whatever it is, it’s not at all helpful when your health and the health of your baby are your number one priority.

Whether it’s diarrhea in early pregnancy or a possible sign of labor (😳), we’ve got all you need to know.

In this article: 📝

  • How common is diarrhea in pregnancy?
  • What causes diarrhea while pregnant?
  • Phases of diarrhea while pregnant
  • Should I be worried if I have diarrhea while pregnant?
  • What naturally stops diarrhea during pregnancy?
  • Is it normal to have diarrhea during pregnancy?
  • Can you get diarrhea instead of morning sickness?
  • Does diarrhea mean labor?
  • What can I take for diarrhea while pregnant?

How common is diarrhea in pregnancy?

First things first, while we may not be able to ease your bowels, we may be able to ease your mind: diarrhea in pregnancy is common. [1]

Having said that, diarrhea during pregnancy can also signify other health conditions of varying severity.

If you’re ever feeling weird, pregnancy-wise, check in with your healthcare provider.

Bodies are all different and there are a plethora of reasons why you may have diarrhea while pregnant.

By visiting your doc, you have nothing to lose (except maybe a half-hour in your doctor’s waiting room) and much to gain.

What causes diarrhea while pregnant?

So what causes diarrhea during pregnancy — and what on earth was the universe thinking when it decided to bestow this little gift on your already spent resources?

Diarrhea that’s related to pregnancy (as opposed to something like food poisoning, which can also happen during pregnancy!) could be due to the following:

  • Your body is a little fussier about food. Urgh. Those treats that were just so easy for your body to process before are now the cause of some rather interesting sights and smells. The arrival on the scene of some new food sensitivities can leave you feeling that it may not be such a bright idea to stray too far from a bathroom.
  • The menu has changed. You’re happily giving in to some new cravings (yes, sardines and ice cream are a thing) or you’ve decided to opt for some pregnancy-friendly dietary shifts (like more fiber). As embryologist Navya Muralidhar explains, “ At this stage, your body may become sensitive to particular food”. Either way, you’re sporting a whole new preggo diet. Your bowels are like, what is she doing now? And they respond with diarrhea while pregnant.
  • All those healthy choices. You’re taking your prenatal vitamins. For once in your life, you’re heeding the call to drink more water. Instead of congratulating you, your bowels respond this way? So unfair.
  • Workin’ those abs. Either because you’ve chosen to adopt a particular preggo-belly exercise routine] — or because your body is getting you in shape for labor with some Braxton Hicks contractions — muscle activity (whether it’s the tightening or the loosening kind) can have this awesome little side effect of diarrhea in pregnancy.
  • Hormones. Hormones. Hormones. Yes, yes, yes. Hormones seem to take responsibility for everything in pregnancy — and diarrhea during pregnancy is no different. But why? you ask, no doubt with tears in your eyes. Well, hormones just love to wreak havoc on your digestive system, slowing it down, offering you a delightful bill of fare that includes everything from constipation to diarrhea. (Sheesh, hormones! You could at least make up your mind about which side of the spectrum you want to be on.) [2,3]

🤢 Get clued up: What to Know About Food Poisoning While Pregnant

What foods cause diarrhea during pregnancy?

It’s hard to say which specific foods can cause diarrhea while pregnant, because every body and every pregnancy is different.

So while one mama can enjoy ice cream every day, another mama might get those all-too-familiar cramps from diarrhea when pregnant. [4]

But a few foods that can cause diarrhea when pregnant might be:

  • Spicy foods
  • Dried fruits
  • Foods that are high in saturated fats
  • Foods with lactose (like milk, yogurt, chocolate)
  • Sugary foods
  • Fried foods

Can prenatal vitamins cause diarrhea?

Ugh. We know, you’re doing so much to make sure baby’s as healthy as possible, even taking prenatal vitamins.

And your body reacts with diarrhea while pregnant?


Unfortunately, some pregnant people may have some odd reactions to some of the vitamins and minerals in prenatal supplements, like diarrhea in pregnancy. [5]

That’s why it’s best to speak with your doctor before going on any vitamins, just in case.

It might also take a few weeks or a couple of months for your body to get used to processing the extra vitamins in that form.

Or you can try to get those specific vitamins and minerals from a healthy pregnancy diet.

Can folic acid cause diarrhea?

Yes, in doses higher than 1 mg per day, folic acid does have some nasty potential side effects, including diarrhea in pregnancy. [6]

If you’re experiencing any of the following when taking folic acid supplements, speak with your doctor immediately:

  • Diarrhea in pregnancy
  • Seizures
  • Irritability
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Skin rashes or other reactions

Does hCG cause diarrhea?

Throughout your pregnancy, your levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) will steadily increase.

Unfortunately, higher levels of hCG have been linked to worse cases of pregnancy nausea and diarrhea in pregnancy, as they can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

📈 Keep track of your hCG Levels by Week: What You Need to Know

Phases of diarrhea while pregnant

While it’s more common to experience diarrhea in pregnancy third trimester, it also likes to join the party just after you’ve had that positive test.

Damn it.

Diarrhea in early pregnancy

As we mentioned, diarrhea is more common later in pregnancy, so you might be wondering, has anyone had diarrhea in early pregnancy?

While not as common as nausea, vomiting, and some general gassiness, diarrhea during early pregnancy is a notable symptom.

Look, there are a lot of changes occurring in your body (thanks again, hormones), as well as shifts in your diet and activity levels.

Also, and this is a big one, this early phase comes with a whole bunch of fresh new anxieties that you may never have felt before.

These anxieties can have a big effect on your digestive system.

Is diarrhea a sign of pregnancy in the first week?

To be honest, it’s usually too early to tell whether diarrhea in the first week of pregnancy is an early sign.

Usually, if you experience diarrhea in early pregnancy, it tends to be after about week 5.

However, if you already have any gastrointestinal issues, like IBS, or stomach cramps brought on by anxiety, they might be causing your diarrhea in early pregnancy, too.

Diarrhea during pregnancy 2nd trimester

If you have diarrhea during pregnancy 2nd trimester, home remedies might be the first thing you think of.

While not many mamas-to-be have diarrhea in the second trimester, those that do recommend switching to a less-flavorful diet and drinking more water.

If you’re struggling with diarrhea in the second trimester, Navya has some advice: “Along with water, drinking good amounts of fluids such as juices or broth can help you rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes. However, steer clear of milk-based drinks as that might worsen symptoms.”.

Diarrhea during pregnancy 3rd trimester

The baby’s room is ready.

Your due date is looming.

And your body is literally like, oh crap.


So diarrhea during pregnancy third trimester can be one of the many kind ways your magnificent body is preparing you for labor. [7]

But don’t freak out.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re about to pop.

(Poop, probably. Pop, not necessarily)

It’s just doing some pretty weird warm-ups that have to do with the release of prostaglandins, chemicals that result in the contraction of the uterus, and it might happen closer to your due date, too.

Isn’t your body amazing?

(Okay. Maybe we’ll try and convince you of this when the diarrhea has subsided.)

Should I be worried if I have diarrhea while pregnant?

There are many other reasons why you could be experiencing diarrhea in pregnancy, ranging from viral and bacterial infections to food poisoning.

But generally speaking, you shouldn’t worry about diarrhea during pregnancy unless it lasts more than two days, you’ve got pain in your rectum or abdomen, or you’re losing significant weight from it, or if you think you might be dehydrated.

📏 Learn more: Losing Weight While Pregnant: Risks & Reasons

Can diarrhea cause miscarriage?

While it’s not common, sometimes the cause of diarrhea can lead to pregnancy loss. [8]

For example, if a pregnant person has a bad case of food poisoning, like listeria or salmonella, the dehydration and lack of nutrients from the resulting diarrhea in pregnancy may cause pregnancy loss.

If you’re at all concerned about your digestive system or diarrhea in pregnancy, reach out to your doctor.

Can diarrhea in early pregnancy be a sign of miscarriage?

It is possible.

Navya explains it further: “Not that diarrhea is a sign of miscarriage, but sometimes it can be indicative of food poisoning from salmonella, toxoplasmosis, or listeriosis, which are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.”.

If this is the case, diarrhea during pregnancy may be accompanied by pain in the back) and abdominal region, extreme fatigue, and discharges of fluid and tissue.

One more time: chat with your doc if you are at all concerned.

Can pushing poop cause miscarriage?

No, it can’t. [9]

If you’re constipated or have diarrhea while pregnant, you may be straining while on the toilet.

While straining to poop can cause a hernia, it won’t cause pregnancy loss by itself.

Pushing to poop will not hurt your baby, but it may hurt you, so speak to your doctor if you think you might be constipated.

Can diarrhea cause harm to my unborn baby?


If you have diarrhea when pregnant, that can cause fatigue, dehydration, and a lack of nutrients in your body, so they might mean that baby get enough of your nutrients to help them grow.

If your diarrhea while pregnant lasts for more than two days, speak to your doctor.

When should I be concerned about diarrhea during pregnancy?

More often than not, stressful though it might be, diarrhea during pregnancy won’t lead to any issues for you or baby.

According to Navya, “Mild diarrhea goes away on its own with some ORS (oral rehydation solutions), rehydration and rest. If diarrhea is caused by bacteria, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic that’s safe for the fetus.”

But if your diarrhea lasts for more than 2 days, you feel dehydrated, confused, or you have any other symptoms like fever, severe pain, headaches, or bleeding, speak to your doctor as soon as you can.

What naturally stops diarrhea during pregnancy?

Looking for a more natural way to treat diarrhea while pregnant?

If you’re keen to avoid taking anti-diarrhea medication until absolutely necessary, you can try these natural remedies:

  • Drink lots of water ‒ at least one cup each time you poop.
  • Stick to bland-flavored foods ‒ avoiding fatty, sugary, or spicy food in particular. The BRAT diet is recommended if you have diarrhea while pregnant (bananas, rice, applesauce, and dry toast), but you shouldn’t have that diet for more than two days. [10]
  • Eat little and often ‒ avoiding bigger meals and opting for smaller, more frequent meals can help.
  • Try miso soup and lightly-flavored broths ‒ these can help rehydrate and replace the sodium lost when experiencing diarrhea during pregnancy.
  • Take probiotics ‒ taking regular probiotics can generally help your digestive system and prevent diarrhea, or reduce the amount of time you have diarrhea when pregnant.

Is it normal to have diarrhea during pregnancy?

While the short answer is that diarrhea when pregnant is indeed something that many mamas-to-be experience, loose stools can happen for all sorts of reasons, and some of those are cause for concern.

Some moms-to-be even notice a green hue to their poop—there are so many weird things that can happen when you’re pregnant!

Again — and we seriously cannot stress this enough — if you’re worried about the possibility of any other condition, check in with your healthcare provider.

Is diarrhea at 8 weeks pregnant normal?

It’s not that common to have diarrhea during pregnancy in the first 8 weeks.

But if you already have a gastrointestinal issue, like IBS, you may find yourself more prone to diarrhea when pregnant.

If you’re concerned, check in with your doctor.

Is diarrhea OK during the first trimester?

It can be ‒ your body is gearing up for some big changes, which can cause some stomach upset.

Which can then lead to diarrhea during pregnancy.

But as we said before, if your diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours, you feel dehydrated or confused, or you notice blood in your stool, speak to your doctor immediately.

Can you get diarrhea instead of morning sickness?

While uncommon, diarrhea in pregnancy instead of morning sickness and pregnancy nausea has been known to happen.

Again, it’s more typical in people who have conditions like IBS or Crohn’s, but it can replace pregnancy nausea entirely.

Does diarrhea mean labor?

If you have diarrhea in the third trimester, there is a chance it could be an early sign of labor.

This is your body’s way of ‘flushing out’ everything it doesn’t need for labor.

🤰 Know what to look out for: 5 Promising Signs That Labor is 24 to 48 Hours Away

How long before labor does diarrhea start?

Diarrhea in pregnancy as a precursor to labor can be as soon as 1-2 days before baby’s grand appearance.

So if you’re in your last few weeks of pregnancy and you have a day or two of diarrhea when pregnant, make sure your hospital bags are packed and baby’s car seat is set up ‒ baby’s probably going to be on the way soon!

What can I take for diarrhea while pregnant?

So if you’re not feeling well, what can you take for diarrhea while pregnant?

Most diarrhea during pregnancy can be effectively treated at home with a little kit of soups, dry toast, rice, and bananas, and by avoiding any rich foods that might exacerbate the problem.

It’s also very important to hydrate — but don’t overdo it or, um, that bathroom trip may be happening quicker than you think.

What anti-diarrhea medicine is safe while pregnant?

When it comes to diarrhea medicine while pregnant, chat with your doctor to see what will work best for you. [11]

Pepto-Bismol is generally to be avoided during pregnancy, while Imodium should be safe — but again: check, check, check.

We know diarrhea during pregnancy isn’t exactly fun, but this too shall pass.

If you’re after more home remedies for diarrhea in pregnancy, join our community of mamas-to-be on Peanut!

You’re doing great!


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