Diarrhea During Pregnancy: The Facts

Team Peanut9 months ago6 min read

Diarrhea during pregnancy is yet another wonderful experience women go through. 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.

Pregnant woman

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 this other fun little symptom. 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.

So let’s discuss! 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.

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 your body may be acting the way it is. By paying your doc a visit, you have nothing to lose (except maybe a half hour in your doctor’s waiting room) and much to gain.

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 is a thing) or you’ve decided to opt for some pregnancy-friendly dietary shifts (like more fiber). Either way, you’re sporting a whole new preggo diet. Your bowels are like, what is she doing now? And they respond by forcing a mass evacuation.
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.)

Phases of diarrhea while pregnant

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

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 (yes, yes: 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.

Diarrhea in the third trimester

The baby’s room is ready. Your due date is looming. And your body is literally like, oh crap. This can be one of the many kind ways your magnificent body is preparing you for labor. 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. Isn’t your body amazing? (Okay. Maybe we’ll try and convince you of this when the diarrhea has subsided.)

Diarrhea while pregnant: FAQs

So what is normal versus abnormal diarrhea during pregnancy — as in, when should you worry?

Is it normal to have diarrhea during pregnancy?

While the short answer is that those bottom burps are 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. 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.

When should I be worried about diarrhea during pregnancy?

There are many other reasons why you could be experiencing diarrhea in pregnancy, ranging from viral and bacterial infections to food poisoning. If you suspect it’s any one of these issues, don’t hesitate to call your doctor, particularly if your diarrhea is accompanied by any other symptoms like fever, severe pain, headaches, or bleeding.

Can diarrhea be a sign of miscarriage?

It is possible. If this is the case, the diarrhea 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.

What can I 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. When it comes to medication, chat with your doctor to see what will work best for you. Pepto-Bismol is generally to be avoided during pregnancy, while Imodium should be safe — but again: check, check, check.

And if you need to hear this right now (perhaps from your position on the porcelain throne), this too shall pass. (Um… maybe that wasn’t the right way to say it but you catch our drift.)

You’re doing great!