An expectant mother may feel that she will instinctually sense when labor is about to begin. Sometimes, this may, in fact, be true and she will correctly predict her baby’s arrival. However, it is not uncommon for eager soon-to-be mothers to consult their doctors only to receive disappointing news as, despite having convinced themselves otherwise, there are no indications of impending birth.
Frustrated by remaining empty-handed and still very much pregnant, they may search for other, more accurate signs of approaching labor. Fortunately, there are several. Among others, diarrhea late in pregnancy is a reliable indicator that true contractions are near. And, for those wondering just how soon after diarrhea does labor start, they will be pleased to know that it is often a matter of a day or two.
How is Diarrhea Related to Labor?
As a woman’s pregnancy progresses and her due date nears, she may begin to experience frequent bowel movements or diarrhea. These may or may not happen together with flu-like symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting.
The timing of these events is crucial, as they often precede labor by a 48-hour window. In fact, some refer to the development of the runs late in the third-trimester as pre-labor diarrhea.
There are several reasons why women develop diarrhea around this time. One factor is that when readying for birth, the body releases prostaglandins to stimulate uterine contractions as well as dilate and soften the cervix. Prostaglandins also knock parts of the digestive system into overdrive, leading to changes in bowel movements.
In addition, voiding the bowels is thought to be a way the body cleanses itself in preparation for the baby’s arrival and a means to free up space for his or her journey to the outside world.
Are There Other Reliable Indicators of Labor?
The pregnant body and baby within it prepare for the birthing process in several ways.
A baby often travels downward, or drops, to settle in the pelvic region, ready for an exit. This movement may also cause changes in the appearance of the pregnant stomach, so it protrudes lower down on the belly. And, as a consequence, an expectant mother may feel some easing of pressure and both eat and breathe more easily.
The change in position of the baby, however, may occur several weeks before birth. Similarly, increases in Braxton-Hicks contractions and vaginal discharge are also common a few weeks prior and work to prepare the birth canal and uterus.
Fortunately, other events such as a woman experiencing spurts of energy, known as a nesting instinct, are associated much more closely with labor’s onset. This energy is thought to be nature’s way of providing stamina to withstand the birthing process.
Further, an end to weight gain, or even the loss of a few pounds often means a baby will make an appearance within a day or two, as do the previously mentioned diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. Of course, for women whose water breaks, labor may kick off even sooner.
Staying Hydrated with Diarrhea
While increased vaginal discharge causes minimal to no problems and shifts in a baby’s positioning may actually improve an expecting mother’s comfort, diarrhea is without a doubt unpleasant. As this condition causes multiple watery stools a day, it is also easy for those affected to become dehydrated.
It is crucial that pregnant women with diarrhea drink plenty of liquids as well as replenish lost electrolytes. Consuming things such as chicken broth and bananas will help restore sodium and potassium levels while also being easy on the stomach.
Can Diarrhea in Pregnancy Occur Without Labor?
Diarrhea may occur at other times during pregnancy for many reasons unrelated to labor. Ever-changing hormones, dietary adjustments, or even side-effects from a prenatal vitamin may cause loose bowel movements.
There is no reason to assume that diarrhea early on in pregnancy is indicative of preterm labor, as this may not be the case.
When diarrhea happens with a fever or lasts longer than a few days, a pregnant woman should consult a doctor for treatment, no matter what stage of pregnancy she is in. In addition to food poisoning, dangerous conditions such as an infection may be causing it and require medical attention.
Answering the Question: How Soon After Diarrhea Does Labor Start?
While diarrhea can be uncomfortable, late in pregnancy, it is often a signal that the birthing process will begin. Those who ask, “How soon after diarrhea does labor start?” are usually pleased by the answer: within one to two days.
A doctor’s intervention may be necessary if symptoms occur along with a fever; however, more often than not, diarrhea in late pregnancy is harmless and a sign that a long-awaited moment is just around the corner.