Is Diarrhea a Sign of Pregnancy? Exploring the Connection and Potential Causes
If you have been trying to conceive lately or have had unprotected sex, I understand…
If you have been trying to conceive lately or have had unprotected sex, I understand how even the slightest changes in your body make you wonder if you have conceived and are on the way to having a baby. These thoughts can no doubt leave you baffled. While there are some common signs indicating if a baby is on the way or not, there are some more that are not as common.
Many women consider diarrhea as a sign of pregnancy. You might have even heard from some of your mom’s friends or women in your family that they had a rough time dealing with diarrhea during their early pregnancy. But is it one of those signs indicating you might be pregnant? That’s something to explore! So, if you have been making rounds to the toilet quite frequently and are now wondering if you might be pregnant, hang on!
Take some time to review this write-up to see if what you have heard about the connection between diarrhea and pregnancy is true.
Understanding Pregnancy Symptoms
When you conceive, your body undergoes many changes, some beginning right after conception. However, it does take some time to realize these changes. Although there’s nothing more accurate than a pregnancy test at the doctor’s clinic, some signs and symptoms may appear in your body that point toward the possibility of being pregnant. What are they? Let’s take a look.
Besides these common signs, pregnant women may or may not experience some other symptoms during their early pregnancy. Things like going through frequent mood swings, having headaches and backaches, feeling dizzy or having a fainting spell due to low blood sugar or blood pressure, and having a hard time passing stools due to constipation are also seen.
So many signs of pregnancy! Unbelievable, right? Still, some women do not experience any of these and find out they are pregnant only after they miss their period and go for a test.
But does this make you wonder why your otherwise healthy body suddenly starts experiencing all this? All thanks to your pregnancy hormones, which get right into action as soon as you have conceived. Progesterone, estrogen, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are three hormones that start to rise to prepare your body for the growing fetus. The downside of high levels of these hormones is that you develop what we call “early signs of pregnancy.”
Diarrhea as a Sign of Pregnancy
Before we begin discussing the answer to the question, “Is diarrhea a sign of pregnancy?” let us try and understand what diarrhea is. A person with diarrhea has loose, watery stools three times or more in 24 hours. If your morning bowels were runny, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have diarrhea. You must visit the toilet at least three times a day to conclude you have diarrhea.
Getting back to pregnancy signs, while many women experience diarrhea at the beginning stages of pregnancy, it is still not considered a very reliable indicator of the same because there are way too many reasons a woman may get diarrhea. For instance, you might have noticed that when your periods are due, your bowel movements change drastically, and diarrhea may be a common occurrence for many around this time. This happens due to a rise in prostaglandins in the body.
So, if diarrhea is a common thing for many close to and during their periods, how can one consider it a sign of pregnancy? Then there are other reasons, like certain medications, bowel disorders, food intolerances, consuming contaminated food and water, etc., that frequently cause diarrhea. Hence, considering diarrhea as a tell-tale sign of pregnancy is not right because several other factors are responsible for it that have nothing to do with a growing fetus.
Factors Contributing to Diarrhea During Pregnancy
Now that, you know that diarrhea is not a sure-shot sign telling you you’re pregnant, it is still a common and uncomfortable side effect. One-third of pregnant women experience diarrhea, the opposite of constipation, which is one of the better-known pregnancy signs.
The reasons why many women suffer from this condition when they’re expecting are:
Hormonal Changes: Every little thing your body incurs when you’re pregnant is due to the havoc carried by pregnancy hormones. Though their role is primarily in helping your body grow a new life, it does come with its own set of discomforts and challenges. Hormones, like oxytocin, increase at the time of pregnancy. These can speed up the movement of bowels in the digestive tract and lead to pregnancy-related diarrhea.
Dietary Changes: When a woman is pregnant, her taste buds may crave things she never liked before. She may even eat more than usual to satisfy her additional nutritional requirements. These changes in diet can cause an upset tummy and may trigger diarrhea and other annoying symptoms such as bloating or gas.
Prenatal Vitamins: Many women take prenatal vitamins when they’re trying to conceive. Some start consuming them after a doctor’s recommendation following a pregnancy test. Many times, prenatal vitamins are also the culprits causing loose, runny bowel movements. If you suspect your prenatal vitamins are the reason you have an upset stomach, have a chat with your doctor. They may prescribe you an alternative that is milder and gentler on your tummy.
Related: Early Signs of Pregnancy in Urine
Other Potential Causes of Diarrhea in Pregnant Women
Sometimes, external factors can also cause diarrhea when you are pregnant. These factors can be totally unrelated to your pregnancy but may still make your life miserable for some days until you get better. Here they are:
Infections: A stomach bug is a quickly spreading infection that is caused when someone consumes contaminated food or water or comes into contact with an infected person. You may suffer from diarrhea, cramps, fever, nausea, and vomiting if you contract a stomach bug. So, be sure to take precautions and avoid getting close to people who are ill, especially during your pregnancy period.
Gastrointestinal Issues: GI issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can affect a woman during pregnancy and cause challenges such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and gas. Those who have had IBS even before pregnancy can see a worsening or decrease in their symptoms. That’s completely different from person to person, and one cannot tell beforehand what they are going to experience.
Stress: Who knew stress and anxiety could also give you tummy troubles when expecting? Realizing you have a new life growing in your tummy, your apprehensions, anticipations, and fears can add to the stress and increase the number of rounds you go to the toilet. Or there could be other issues that may stress you out and, in turn, give you an upset stomach.
Differentiating Between Pregnancy-Related Diarrhea and Other Causes
Not that you know there are quite a few reasons that can cause diarrhea, even in expecting mothers; you may be wondering if there is a way to find if the bout of diarrhea you’re experiencing is due to pregnancy or some other factor. While there’s no definite answer to this, there are a bunch of things you can watch out for.
If diarrhea is accompanied by fever, cramps, and vomiting, it could be because you have caught an infection by eating something contaminated. Think about whether you have had something that could be contaminated, causing the symptoms.
If loose stools are accompanied by bloating, abdominal cramps, an inability to sleep, and moodiness or sadness, it could probably be because you’re nearing your period.
However, if your tummy troubles have come along with other typical pregnancy symptoms such as darkening or discoloration of the nipples and areola, nausea and vomiting, or swollen breasts that hurt when you touch them, it could be pregnancy-related.
But these are just guesses, and to be sure if you’re pregnant and that’s what is causing you diarrhea, you must pay a visit to your doctor and get yourself checked for an accurate diagnosis.
Managing Diarrhea During Pregnancy
Diarrhea during the first trimester is usually not too severe, and you can easily manage it at home. Give it a few days and follow the tips given below so you can ease your discomfort and get well soon.
Dietary Modifications: Diet plays a key role in how your tummy reacts. If frequent trips to the toilet are bothering you, it is best to avoid fried, fatty, and spicy foods, along with dried fruits, prunes, milk, soda, and juice. These foods can aggravate your condition and make you even more miserable. So, try to stay away from these until your diarrhea settles. Until then, you can enjoy foods like crackers, bananas, rice, and toast, which are gentler on the stomach.
Hydration: You may not drink soda or juices with high sugar content, but you are free to drink water and clear broth to replenish electrolytes and rehydrate your body. So don’t ignore that bottle of water, and take a sip or two frequently to maintain your hydration levels.
Over-The-Counter Medications: Many over-the-counter medications to treat diarrhea are readily available, but it is better to talk to your doctor for advice on which medicine you can have to control your condition. I say this because some diarrhea medications have sodium or sodium bicarbonate content, which is unsafe to consume during pregnancy.
Home Remedies: Rest is the best way to recover from any illness. So, rest as much as you can so your body can work its way to recovery. In addition, try to have a cup or two of chamomile tea and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and cottage cheese to get a dose of healthy gut bacteria and some relief.
Diarrhea is a pregnancy symptom that affects a lot of women during their early pregnancy and beyond. Though not many women prefer talking about it because of sheer hesitation, that does not mean it is not common. Many symptoms appear in pregnant women during the initial period, and diarrhea is one of them. But can it be called a true sign of pregnancy? Not really.
The reason behind this is apparent. Diarrhea can result from various other factors besides pregnancy, and therefore, one can never be sure that pregnancy is the reason behind that bout of diarrhea you’re experiencing. So, do yourself a favor and discuss this with your doctor. Only they can tell if it’s pregnancy or something else that has caused you diarrhea and suggest remedies to provide you with much-needed relief.
Yes, diarrhea is a symptom many women deal with when they’re pregnant.
Some women may experience diarrhea during the early stages of pregnancy, mainly due to hormonal changes happening in the body. But experts don’t take it as a reliable sign of pregnancy.
Diarrhea occurs for several reasons that alter bowel movements. These include hormonal shifts, dietary changes, prenatal vitamins, and stress.
Hormones are one of the root causes for pregnancy-related diarrhea. As hormone levels go up, especially prostaglandins, it results in the faster movement of bowels inside the tummy, causing diarrhea.
Diarrhea, as such, does not pose any risk to the growing fetus as long as the mother is maintaining hydration and eating appropriate foods. But if the case of diarrhea is severe and is left uncontrolled and unmonitored, it may harm the baby due to malnutrition and dehydration.