Diarrhea is a less common problem during pregnancy. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy are more likely to constipate a woman by delaying transportation of food through the intestines. In addition, prenatal vitamins prescribed by gynecologists might cause constipation. Nonetheless, due to several reasons, diarrhea might occur during pregnancy.
Causes Of Diarrhea During Pregnancy
Bacterial, viral and parasitic infections are the common causes of diarrhea during pregnancy.
Diarrhea could be a sign of stomach flu or a viral infection that affects the small intestine. The viruses responsible for stomach flu damage the lining of the small intestine. Diarrhea occurs when fluid leaks from the damaged cells, present in the lining of the small intestine, into the small intestine. Stomach flu is a contagious disease.
Although severe diarrhea due to rotavirus infection is less likely to occur in adults, during pregnancy, one could not rule out the risk of rotavirus infection, especially if a child or elderly member of the family is suffering from rotavirus infection. Eating foods contaminated with norovirus is a common cause of diarrhea.
Preventing Diarrhea Caused By Stomach Flug
You can avoid stomach flu by washing your hands frequently, especially before eating. A pregnant woman should try to avoid contact with a person suffering from stomach flu.
If a family member is suffering from stomach flu, thoroughly clean all contaminated surfaces, linen and clothing that might be contaminated with the viruses. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them. It is advisable to avoid raw or undercooked vegetables and seafood.
Diarrhea during pregnancy might be caused by parasites. Giardiasis is a common form of parasitic infection caused by a parasite known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia intestinalis. This chronic infection is usually associated with poor sanitary conditions.
If you do not treat giardiasis contracted before conception, you might develop recurrent diarrhea during pregnancy. Consuming foods and drinks contaminated with the parasite might cause giardiasis during pregnancy.
Preventing Diarrhea Caused By Parasitic Infection
Avoiding food and beverages prepared under unhealthy condition could reduce the risk of parasitic infections during pregnancy.
Traveler’s Diarrhea During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are vulnerable to traveler’s diarrhea, which might develop while traveling. During pregnancy, lower gastric acidity fails to kill the microbes that enter the gastrointestinal tract through food and drinks, increasing the risk of stomach and intestinal infections and diarrhea.
In addition, delay in emptying the stomach caused by hormonal changes or increased gastrointestinal transit time exposes the stomach and intestines to the harmful organisms for a longer time. As a result, these bugs get a longer time to invade the gut.
To avoid bacterial, viral or parasitic infection while traveling, do not drink tap water. It is advisable to avoid tap water even for brushing your teeth. Peel the fruits and vegetables before consuming them. It is advisable to avoid salads made with raw vegetables.
Do not consume raw or undercooked meat, fish and shellfish. Consume freshly cooked food. You might contract traveler’s diarrhea by drinking unpasteurized milk or consuming unpasteurized dairy products.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Women with irritable bowel syndrome might develop diarrhea during pregnancy. The usual symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome that occurred in your pre-pregnancy days might recur during pregnancy. The symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain and cramps could subside by eliminating food substances that trigger this condition.
The exact factors that worsen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person. In many people chocolate, caffeine, dairy products, spicy foods, beans, onions, fatty foods, artificial sweeteners, fruit juices and raw vegetables are linked to this condition.
Risks Of Diarrhea During Pregnancy
Diarrhea caused by severe infection such as listeriosis could lead to miscarriage. Hepatitis E, contracted during pregnancy, might even cause maternal death.
However, in most cases the viral, bacterial or parasitic infections that cause diarrhea during pregnancy do not harm the fetus developing in the womb. Usually the microbes are confined to the digestive tract. However, dehydration that occurs from loss of fluid due to diarrhea might harm the baby.
Excessive thirst, little or no urination, dry mouth, dizziness and severe weakness are the common signs of dehydration. Dehydration during pregnancy could trigger spontaneous abortion or miscarriage. If diarrhea causes severe dehydration in the first trimester of pregnancy, it might reduce the amniotic fluid level in the womb. Insufficient amniotic fluid increases the risk of deformities in the limbs.
Treating Dehydration Due To Diarrhea
Viral intestinal infections linked to diarrhea subside naturally within a few days. Your physician might prescribe medications for treating bacterial and parasitic infections. Besides treating the gastrointestinal infection, a pregnant woman should take steps to prevent dehydration caused by excess loss of fluid.
Frequently drinking fresh water or an oral rehydration solution that restores the normal electrolyte or salts and mineral balance in the body. Severe diarrhea accompanied by vomiting might require hospitalization. In such cases, fluid lost from the body is replaced with intravenous fluid.
Treating Diarrhea During Pregnancy
Avoid taking solid foods for a few hours. Consume oral rehydration fluid and juices. However, a pregnant woman should not skip meals. Bland foods that are easy to digest could be consumed until the diarrhea heals. Toast, plain rice, boiled potato, cooked carrot, baked skinless chicken, crackers, broth, applesauce and bananas could be included in the diet. Stay away from milk and dairy products.
However, unsweetened yogurt could be consumed by pregnant women suffering from diarrhea. By introducing beneficial bacteria in the gut, yogurt could improve your gastrointestinal health. Avoid fried and fatty foods and caffeine. Sweetened foods such as cookies and cakes might be unsafe during diarrhea. Take enough rest.
Diarrhea As A Sign Of Labor
Diarrhea that occurs at the end of the third trimester of pregnancy could be a sign of labor. Prostaglandins released by the body to facilitate labor could cause loose bowel movement or diarrhea. Loosening the bowel movement is a natural mechanism of emptying the bladder to ease delivery.
Moreover, the strong muscle contractions that occur during labor to push the baby out of the womb closely resembles the muscle contractions that a person experiences during bowel movement.