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Diarrhea During Pregnancy: How to Detect and Treat

Updated on September 29, 2014

Diarrhea is never pleasant, but it can be especially worrisome for pregnant women. While most cases go away on their own, pregnant women can very quickly become dehydrated, endangering both their own health and that of their child.

If you're pregnant and wondering how to treat your case of diarrhea, read on to see whether you have it and how to treat it.

Pregnancy: Diarrhea Symptoms

Diarrhea is characterized by the presence of loose or runny stools three times in a twenty-four hour period. It can be spread by virus or bacteria, so the best way to avoid it is to make sure you wash your hands frequently.

Some women experience diarrhea in late pregnancy. Depending on the cause of diarrhea, other symptoms may or may not occur with it. Other symptoms that may accompany diarrhea include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramping or stomach pain

Generally, pregnant women are more likely to experience constipation than diarrhea because of their prenatal vitamins, which contain high levels of iron. Diarrhea during pregnancy should not last very long. If it lasts for longer than 2 days, call your doctor right away. Sometimes, diarrhea can be an indication of premature labor.

If you're pregnant and experience any of the following symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately:

  1. Diarrhea persists for 2 days or longer.
  2. Diarrhea accompanied by fever and vomitting.
  3. Stools containing blood.
  4. Severe abdominal pain.
  5. No urination for more than 5 hours.

Diarrhea During Pregnancy: Causes and Treatment

  1. Bacterial infections: several types of bacteria consumed through contaminated food and water can cause diarrhea.
  2. Viruses: rotavirus and Cyptomegalovirus are two common culprits.
  3. Parasites: they enter the body through foods and water and settle in the digestive system. Some of the parasites that cause diarrhea include Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium, and Entamoeba histolytica.
  4. Medication: blood pressure medications, antacids containing magnesium, and antibiotics can cause all be responsible for upsetting the digestive system.
  5. Diet: Diarrhea can be caused by an increase in the intake of water and/or of foods that have high water content (such as fruits and vegetables). Once they discover they're pregnant, many women change their diet to make sure the baby is getting the right nutrition. These sudden changes in diet could potentially cause diarrhea as well.

Other causes include lactose intolerance, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

How to Treat Diarrhea During Pregnancy

The best way to get rid of diarrhea is to drink plenty of water and fluids to prevent dehydration. You can take oral dehydration solution like Pedialyte to replace the body fluids that are lost during diarrhea. Follow the following diet plan for diarrhea during pregnancy.

The BRAT Diet

The BRAT diet
The BRAT diet

Tip: Remember the BRAT diet during diarrhea.

This diet is often recommended because of how easy these foods are on the digestive tract.

Diet Plan for Pregnant Women

  1. Take oral rehydration solution for 4-5 hours. The best type of drink is a mixture of salt and sugar in water. Avoid unhealthy drinks like sodas and soft drinks.
  2. You can take foods such as toast, crackers, applesauce, rice, mashed potatoes, pretzels, noodles, bananas, cooked carrots, cooked squash, rice krispies, cheerios, and oatmeal.
  3. Yogurt is the one dairy product you can eat. Yogurt is good for you because it contains probiotics: the good kind of bacteria that helps with digestion. Otherwise, avoid dairy products.
  4. No oils or butter.
  5. No spicy foods, dried fruits, or sauces.

When I had diarrhea during my pregnancy, my doctor recommended Imodium, which completely stopped the symptoms. Always ask your health care provider before taking it.

Pregnant women should also avoid any medication that contain sodium or sodium bicarbonate.

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    • profile image

      serah 

      4 years ago

      28weeks and afew days pregnant but having a non stop diarrhea thou no abdominal pains?wat could be the cause?

    • profile image

      expecting mother 

      4 years ago

      I'm 16weeks pregnant last night I had stomach ache and diarrhea at around 01:15 am I to the bathroom and had watery stool.Early in the whe I woke up to prepare to go to work I had another stomach discomfort I emptied my bowel again(watery).This has not affected my appetite.I think it will go on its own.I was very much worried about this problem until I decided to google .Thank you for this page and I think many people are going to benefit from this .

    • profile image

      jo 

      6 years ago

      40 weeks pregnant. Went to labor and delivery lastnight because of severe pains. Too findout I had caught food poisoning. Really bad abdominal pains and cramps. Along with feeling weak. They gave me and iv drip but sent me home after that. The next day still in a lot of pain. Next appt is Monday. Hopefully this goes away by tomorrow. I am exhausted and in so much pain.

    • profile image

      Mom2be4/24 

      6 years ago

      Kinda helpful, but when drinkin water make sure its not cold as it will make the diarrhea worst and you'll cramp up badly. Ive been to the hospital with 2bags of IV fluid and im feeling like crap again. The stomach cramps are horrible but all mt blood test and the babys heartbeat are great!!

    • emdi profile image

      emdi 

      6 years ago

      useful hub. Thanks

    • profile image

      Gabbyy 

      6 years ago

      Very Useful, Thanks

    • profile image

      Paulette 

      6 years ago

      I am 19 weeks pregnant have had diarrhea for about a month now with vomiting I went to the er they did an emergency surgery and removed my appendix it had ruptured went back three weeks they told me I was dehydrated but I am still sick and week what do I do?? Drs appt on Tuesday will inform of any new info I find out

    • profile image

      ms.susie 

      6 years ago

      I will stick to the diet I find this site useful.. thanks.

    • profile image

      eva 

      6 years ago

      5 hours without urine? i hope that doesn't include nighttime... meanwhile my baby has given me easy nights...

    • profile image

      dialurdoctor 

      6 years ago

      thankyou good info

    • profile image

      Amz 

      7 years ago

      Its crazzzi

    • profile image

      saybossy@yahoo.com 

      7 years ago

      My period was delayed for up to 2wks bt my period later came at the end of 40days after my last period but on the last day, I was down with diarrhea and severe headache with lower abdominal cramps with stiff neck. I don't know what is happening to me. Can somebody please tell me.

    • profile image

      first time mommy 

      7 years ago

      I just found out that I was pregnant on Thursday.but I have been having really bad tummy cramps and pain followed by diarriah and its only after I eat what can this be ?I am worried for the health of my baby.

    • profile image

      daughter or pregnant woman 

      7 years ago

      Hello, i hope this helps,, my mom woke up with a real bad somache ache and she has diarreah,, she said she drank water but she vomited it. also, you said tht the intake of water increases the diarrhea but the next paragraph you say that its good to take water? please im very confused and i need an answer as fast as i can

    • profile image

      kk 

      7 years ago

      im 16 weeks and have diarrhea for 2 days now, today i got up at 6am and by 10:45 i have already been to the washroom 4 times....it really taking a toll on me, i was instructed to use pedialyte i really hope this work

    • profile image

      j&l&p 

      7 years ago

      im 16 weeks and ive had diarrhea everyday since ive been pregnant ... 3-4 times a day .. sometimes more. I have lost 18 pounds within in past 10 weeks because of it. I tried to stop my vitamins, didn't make a difference, and ive tried to eat different food even seen a dietician. Nothing seems to work for me. My doctor gave me an antibiotic today and when i went to pick it up and double checked with the pharmacist if it was safe for the baby she told me i shouldn't take it and should find a new doctor. Does anyone know how i can treat this?

    • profile image

      B&O+L 

      7 years ago

      I hope this works! I've had it for 2 days now and feel horrible and run down and hav no appitite even tho I am starving! I'm currently 28 weeks and have had it off and on during the whole pregancy. All up approx 6 times and its really taking its toll on me and im worried it will affect my lil muffin.

    • profile image

      monique 

      7 years ago

      Thanks:) news to me about imodium being safe while pregnant!

    • tinaz profile image

      tinaz 

      7 years ago

      Very useful and interesting!

    • profile image

      Clare  

      7 years ago

      One of the first things many women do when they find out they are expecting is read about pregnancy. and this article provide them with handful information

    • profile image

      rachel 

      8 years ago

      im currently 6 weeks pregnant and i have severe abdominal pain and diarrhea for the past 7 days. i was told at the ER that's symptoms are stomach flu virus and it will go away on its own. no medications was advised to take, not even iron supplement nor immodium. also, when diarrhea occurs during pregnancy , most likely it is a infection virus.

    • profile image

      sasa 

      8 years ago

      thanx a lot

    • profile image

      Margaret Rita 

      8 years ago

      Did somebody say pregnant women easily get sick? Due to somehow the immune system weakening because of the nutrient needed given to the baby. I find myself has been taking MC frequently for the first baby on the first 3 months of pregnancy due to instability of the maternity.

    • crisswhite profile image

      crisswhite 

      8 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      I've found that high fiber foods like bananas are helpful for loose stool in general.

    • blessedmom profile imageAUTHOR

      blessedmom 

      8 years ago from USA

      Hi wendy,

      when i had diarrhea problems, my doctor told me to take imodium. Always ask your doctor first before taking it.

    • profile image

      wendy 

      8 years ago

      can you drink imodium on your last month of pregnancy?

    • profile image

      3 weeks pregnant 

      8 years ago

      you have to use pselium(metamucil) or methyl cellulose or loperamide(imodium).. its effective to me..

    • profile image

      bribaby 

      8 years ago

      Hope this works

    • profile image

      Eeshita 

      8 years ago

      Very helpful........I'm having getorade, bread, banana and water with little salt and sugar........I'll have boiled noodles later....

    • profile image

      evelyn 

      8 years ago

      thank you, hope it work :(

    • profile image

      maRia 

      9 years ago

      THANK U SO MUCH...

    • profile image

      Tetziano 

      9 years ago

      Very useful tips, good info. Very Prof. Thanks

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