Pregnancy is a time of joy and glee. You're carrying a real-life actual tiny little human inside of you. Whether you tried to get pregnant for a very long time or was pleasantly surprised, you have a lot to smile (and worry) about. Unfortunately, there are some rather unsavory parts of this journey as well, such loose stools during early pregnancy.
In this article I will be discussing whether or not loose stools are normal during early pregnancy, what could be the main cause of it, and what you and your doctor can do to remedy it. I hope you feel better soon, but in the meantime, please continue reading.
What Symptoms Are Normal During Early Pregnancy?
For most women, the earliest symptoms of pregnancy begin within only a few weeks of conception. I'm sure you have lots of question during this early stage of your pregnancy about all the strange things that are going on inside your body. Perhaps you want to know exactly which ones are normal parts of every healthy pregnancy, such as these:
- Missed period
- Tender and swollen breasts
- Fatigue is extremely common
- Aversion to certain foods
- Cravings for both common and unusual foods
- Severe migraines to moderate headaches
- Nausea and burping
- Slight bleeding or spotting
- Cramping or tight stomach muscles
- Mood swings
- Raised body temperature
- Dizziness or fainting
Are Loose Stools During Early Pregnancy Normal?
If you are experiencing loose stools during early pregnancy, you may be wondering if they are normal symptoms of pregnancy or not. While loose stools themselves are not that uncommon during pregnancy, especially during early pregnancy, there may be some accompanying signs that could mean you need medical treatment.
Usually, loose stools will resolve themselves within a couple of days and really isn't anything to worry about too much.
However, if it lasts longer than two days and you have the following symptoms, it could be a sign of an infection:
- Loose stools lasting three or more days
- Body temperature over 100.3
- Bloody stool
- Black or tar-like stool
- Dark or decreased occurrence of urine
- Dry mouth
- Extreme nausea and vomiting
- Excessive weakness and fatigue
If you have any of these symptoms along with loose stools you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and contact your OB-GYN immediately.
What Causes Loose Stools During Early Pregnancy?
Loose stools during pregnancy can be caused by a number of factors and your doctor will be your best ally in determining which one has caused yours. Two of the most common causes of loose stools during early pregnancy are prenatal vitamins and food poisoning.
1. Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are good for the health of you and your baby, but they have been known to upset pregnant women's stomachs and cause loose stools. This is largely due to the fact that prenatal vitamins contain stool softeners such as docusate sodium. For this reason, you may wish to consider adding probiotics to your diet, to help you repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria.
Your choice of diet could also cause your loose stools. Foods that often lead to diarrhea include fatty foods, food that are rich in fiber, and an excess diet of fruits or vegetables. If your stools are very loose, you should talk to your doctor about changes you could make in your diet.
There are many other possible causes that could be at the root of your loose stools. These include:
- Lactose intolerance
- Artificial sweeteners
- Food poisoning
- Irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis
What Can Your Doctor Do About Loose Stools During Early Pregnancy?
Translated, diarrhea literally means "flowing though" and is defined as three or more loose bowel movements within a 24-hour period.
While loose stools are rarely ever life-threatening, you shouldn't simply disregard this as a normal sign of pregnancy as it can quickly turn into a dangerous situation for both you and your baby, so call your doctor right away.
After you call your doctor, he will most likely conduct a physical exam on you and possibly run some of your blood (and possibly stool samples) to the lab for testing. He will then decide whether to prescribe you some medication that is safe for your baby or suggest over-the-counter medicines. Do not take any medicines without your doctor's consent.
Common Medication Doctors May Recommend
There are quite a lot of different medicines that your doctor may prescribe to you or that he may suggest you buy over the counter. Each medicine can be made of unique ingredients that work specifically to combat loose stools.
- Loperamide (or Imodium) is designed to slow the movement of food as it flows through your intestines, letting your body absorb more of the liquids.
- Bismuth subsalicylate (or Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismol) is designed to balance out the way that fluids move through your digestive tract which stabilizes whatever is making your stools loose.
Read the directions that your doctor gives you, as well as the directions that come with the medicines very carefully. Pay special attention to the recommended times and doses. Never take the medicines too close together in too high of doses and never combine medicines.
Are There Any Natural Remedies for Loose Stools During Early Pregnancy?
There are many natural remedies that you can use at home (with your doctor’s approval, of course). Some are more diet-based and others require simple lifestyle changes. There are all kinds of things you can and should eat while pregnant. The following remedies are found to be helpful by some pregnant women:
- Get plenty of rest
- BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast)
- Bland, low fiber foods
- Vegetable soups
- Lean meats
- Peanut butter
What to Avoid When You Have Loose Stools?
Just as there are remedies that can help relieve your loose stools, there are also some foods and drinks that can make matters worse. Pregnant women have been known to complain about the following items making their loose stools worse:
- Juice (there is about a 50/50 consensus on whether juice helps or hurts so ask your doctor)
- Dried fruits
- Grains that are high in fiber
- Fatty foods
- Fried Foods
- Spicy foods
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Caffeinated drinks
To Wrap Up…
While diarrhea is never a pleasant topic to discuss, I hope you learned a lot from this article and are better informed of what to think about it and what you can do about it. My aim for this article, as well as others is to try to bring you the best modern information available on each topic.
Do you know of a remedy that I left out? Perhaps you know of another food item that made things worse for you. Please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading.
The Johns Hopkins Manual of Gynecology and Obstetrics (4 ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2012. p. 438. ISBN 9781451148015. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017
"What are some common signs of pregnancy?". Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 08/03/18. Archived from the original on 19 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015.