Diarrhea is, quite simply, not a form of morning sickness during pregnancy. Typically, morning sickness includes bouts of nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramping, but diarrhea is not commonly included in the morning sickness package. However, it can be a side effect of the hormonal changes your body experiences during the duration of the pregnancy. If you have more diarrhea than normal, or if you're bothered by this pregnancy symptom, it is possible to treat or manage your diarrhea in ways that are safe for you and your baby.
First Trimester Diarrhea
Many pregnant women can experience diarrhea along with morning sickness for different reasons. If you're on a prenatal vitamin, the extra iron could be the culprit. Try skipping your vitamin for a few days (with your doctor's permission) and see if it helps. If necessary, your doctor can switch you to a different prenatal vitamin. Another common reason for first trimester diarrhea is lactose intolerance.
Pregnant women drink more milk as part of a healthy diet, and that can cause diarrhea in women who are lactose intolerant. To test this theory, eliminate milk from your diet for a few days and see if the diarrhea persists. If you choose to eliminate anything from your diet, talk to your doctor first to ensure you continue to meet your developing baby's nutritional needs.
Last Trimester Diarrhea
Diarrhea towards the end of a pregnancy could serve as a sign that your body is preparing for labor. Many women report stomach virus symptoms, like diarrhea and/or vomiting, before labor begins. It's possible this is the body's way of cleaning out the intestines to make room in the body before delivery of the baby.
In general, anti-diarrheal medications are safe to take during pregnancy, but only under the supervision of your doctor. If you can tolerate the diarrhea without over the counter medications, it's the safest option for your baby. However, if your symptoms are severe or you feel you're at risk of dehydration because of your diarrhea, ask your doctor about using anti-diarrheal medications like Kaopectate or Imodium A-D.
Eating a diet rich in high fiber foods can help prevent both constipation and diarrhea during pregnancy. Some women eat more salads and other women drink prune juice to add fiber to their diet. Drinking plenty of water also helps keep your bowel movements regular. If certain foods trigger diarrhea, such as milk, talk to your doctor about safe alternatives.
Excessive diarrhea puts you at risk for dehydration. To fight dehydration during pregnancy, drink plenty of fluids and eat bland foods. The same BRAT diet that you can eat during morning sickness also helps when you have diarrhea. The BRAT diet includes bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. However, this diet can cause constipation, so try not to consume too much of these products. If you suspect you suffer from dehydration, call your doctor immediately for advice.
Seek Medical Attention
If you suspect you have a mild case of food poisoning or a stomach virus, your diarrhea should improve in about 24 hours. If your diarrhea continues for more than a day, call your doctor. Also call your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea along with fever or abdominal pain, if you have explosive diarrhea, or if your diarrhea contains mucus or blood in the stool. If you have watery stools, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and/or a distended (bloated) abdomen, you might have an intestinal obstruction, which requires immediate medical attention.