Frequent Bowel Movements During Pregnancy

When you become pregnant, your body begins to change almost immediately. The first trimester is full of surprises, from morning sickness to constipation to diarrhea and other issues of the digestive system. It can be tough to figure out where these problems come from. It could be anxiety about the new changes in your life, something in your diet, a rush of hormones, or any number of other things that come about during that first trimester.

Your bowel movements might be one of those things that leave you scratching your head. What’s going on there, with all those frequent bowel movements during pregnancy? Fortunately, there are likely very clear and simple answers to that question.

Is It Normal to Have Frequent Bowel Movements During Pregnancy?

When you are first pregnant, you might change your eating habits and follow a much healthier diet. After all, it isn’t just about you anymore! The increase in fruits and vegetables, as well as an increased water intake, can lead to much more frequent bowel movements. If you already know you have a specific condition, such as celiac disease or ulcerative colitis, you might find that pregnancy makes the symptoms worse, and that leads to even more bowel movements.

However, keep in mind that there is a difference between increased bowel movements and diarrhea. If you are dealing with diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days, it is worth a call to the doctor. That’s because serious dehydration can result from diarrhea, and that’s bad for a pregnant woman, no matter what trimester you might be in.

Experiences of Other People

If you are dealing with frequent bowel movements during pregnancy, you are not alone. Here are a few tales from mothers who have already gone through it:

Case 1: Not to Be Worried About

“I was having very frequent bowel movements during the first trimester, and I finally asked my doctor about it,” Jennifer said. “She told me that prenatal vitamins often contained iron, which made women constipated. As a result, some companies began putting stool softeners into the vitamins, which would clear up the problems with constipation. Add that into the fact that I was eating a ton of fruits and veggies, and you can imagine the problems I had with going to the bathroom every few hours! But I was relieved to know that it’s normal at this stage of the game, and it was much better than having constipation.”

Case 2: A Visit to the Doctor Is Needed

“Something to remember is that just because you are going to the bathroom all the time doesn’t mean you are not constipated,” Amber said. “I thought I couldn’t possibly be constipated because I was going to the bathroom all the time. But then I started having a little rectal bleeding, and the doctor said that I was constipated – I was straining at the toilet each time, and that meant that now I had hemorrhoids! If there is anything worse than constipation, it’s hemorrhoids, because they are painful and embarrassing to talk about. Frequent bowel movements are very common, but if you aren’t sure if yours are normal, it pays to talk to a doctor and figure out for sure.”

Should I Worry About Diarrhea in Late Pregnancy?

Diarrhea is something that many pregnant women never have to worry about – for them, it’s the constipation that causes problems! But don’t be surprised if you have diarrhea late in the third trimester. Many women have mild diarrhea right before they go into labor.

What Causes Diarrhea in Late Pregnancy?

Remember that diarrhea in most pregnant women is caused by the same things that cause it in a woman who is not pregnant: Viruses are the main culprit. You can get a stomach virus, food poisoning or any other number of problems that lead to severe diarrhea, no matter what stage of pregnancy you are in.

But keep in mind that there are other reasons, too – some antibiotics can lead to diarrhea, and so can something that seems very innocent, like sugar-free candies. If you are lactose intolerant, you might experience diarrhea from time to time. If you do have diarrhea and it goes away within a day or so, you have nothing to worry about.

Warning: If you are constipated and then suddenly you are able to pass a very watery stool, that might be something more serious, know as a fecal impaction. This means that the stool has formed a blockage inside your intestine. You will likely have many other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, and a very distended abdomen. This is something that requires immediate treatment.

How to Deal with Diarrhea in Late Pregnancy?

If you aren’t in distress and you know the cause of the diarrhea, there are a few things you can do about it.

  • Eat right. Stay away from any foods that can make the problem worse; for instance, those who are lactose intolerant should avoid milk products if at all possible. If you are suffering from diarrhea because of a virus, flu or other illness, look to the “BRAT” diet. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast – these are usually foods that are tolerated well by those who have an upset stomach. You can also try unsweetened cereals, simple vegetables such as cooked carrots, lean meats and yogurts.
  • Avoid sugar drinks and sports drinks. Avoid drinks that have a lot of sugar in them, such as fruit juices or soft drinks. These can actually draw water away from your body and soon make dehydration worse. Sports drinks are great, and so is plain water. These drinks will help keep you hydrated while you fight off the diarrhea.
  • Do not take medications without asking the doctor. You should never take medications for diarrhea unless directed by your doctor. Some medications marketed for diarrhea contain sodium or sodium bicarbonate, which are not good for you or the baby during pregnancy.
  • Know when to call the doctor. If you are dealing with severe diarrhea, showing signs of dehydration, suffering from abdominal pain, showing signs of preterm labor, or passing stools that are bloody, mostly liquid or filled with mucus, it’s time to give your doctor a call.

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