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Diarrhoea_during_pregnancy

When it comes to talking about bowel movements during pregnancy – and we do talk about them a lot - constipation seems to come up more than diarrhoea.

But did you know that, during early pregnancy, diarrhoea can be a very common symptom? From sudden changes in your diet, to hormones – diarrhoea can hit you for a number of reasons.

Medically, diarrhoea is defined as having three or more “loose” or “watery” bowel movements in a 24-hour period. If this describes your situation, your main concern should be your hydration levels.

Causes of diarrhoea in early pregnancy

While constipation, a more common pregnancy symptom, can be caused by changes in your hormones, diarrhoea is more likely to be caused by an external influence. These can include:

  • Altering your diet
  • The effects of a new pre-natal vitamin
  • Food poisoning
  • A contagious stomach virus or bug

On discovering that you are pregnant, you might alter your diet to include more nutritional foods, liquids and supplements. These changes can initially upset your stomach and cause diarrhoea.

Diarrhoea might even be caused by a pre-natal vitamin that you have started taking. Let your midwife or doctor know if you think this is the case and they may be able to recommend a different brand that is gentler on your stomach and bowel movements.

A roaming stomach bug or a bout of food poisoning can also be responsible for regular runs to the bathroom.

How to treat diarrhoea

It’s likely that diarrhoea will naturally clear up after a couple of days. To keep the discomfort and bathroom runs to a minimum during this time, give these tips a go:

  • Hydrate – We mentioned it earlier but it’s the most important thing you can do when diarrhoea hits. Drink plenty of water (for fluid intake), fresh juice (for potassium), and nutritious clear broth (to replenish sodium levels). This will rehydrate you and replace your missing electrolytes.
  • Keep clear from offending foods – Dried fruits, sugary juices and soft drinks, milk, fatty or spicy foods – these will only exacerbate the situation. Stick to foods that will be gentler on your digestive tract, like bananas, rice, cooked carrots, natural yoghurt, toast and crackers.
  • Say no to certain medications – Diarrhoea medications that contain sodium are not recommended during pregnancy. If you’re not sure, check with your midwife or doctor to be safe.

Regardless of the severity of your diarrhoea, always call your doctor or midwife if:

  • You suspect a virus or bug is the cause of your diarrhoea – you may need antibiotics
  • Your diarrhoea lasts longer than a couple of days

Managing diarrhoea while travelling and pregnant

When we travel overseas we open our bodies up to a number of foreign influences and diarrhoea is a common response to these.

Some countries pose a higher risk of diarrhoea than others, such as developing countries in South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The main reason people get diarrhoea in these countries is from eating food or drinking water that is contaminated.

If you travel while pregnant, take these simple measures to help avoid getting diarrhoea in high-risk countries:

  • Don’t drink or brush your teeth with tap water – be careful of vegetables that have been washed in tap water as well, and ice as it is commonly made from tap water.
  • Avoid eating food from street vendors.
  • Avoid fruits that can’t be peeled or that you didn’t peel yourself.

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