Is diarrhea an early sign of pregnancy before a missed period? Hormonal changes in your body can produce a lot of unusual symptoms after conception. Not many women will experience constipation and diarrhea in the first week of pregnancy. Note that diarrhea is also listed as a symptom of early miscarriage.
Is diarrhea an early sign of pregnancy?
Why am I pooping a lot? Am I pregnant? Diarrhea is termed as having more than three loose or liquid bowel movements in 24 hours. Diarrhea is among the earliest signs of pregnancy right after conception even before a missed period. It may show alongside morning sickness (nausea), mild cramping, lightheadedness and dizziness.
- Most women experiencing diarrhea usually associate it with an abdominal infection.
- Increased hormones of pregnancy such as progesterone and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) have an effect on the digestive system.
- Thus together with nausea, vomiting and food craving, diarrhea too can be an early sign of pregnancy.
Even though this diarrhea is not harmful to the mother and the baby, excessive diarrhea cases might need immediate medical attention.
Too much diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration, weakness, dry mouth, significantly decreased urination and dizziness. See a doctor immediately in case you experience these symptoms.
What causes diarrhea in early pregnancy before a missed period?
It is normal to have diarrhea in the first weeks of pregnancy, first trimester and even some time in the third trimester for some women. Within the first 4 weeks of pregnancy after implantation, you may experience a lot of weird symptoms due to major changes in your hormones.
So, here are the causes of diarrhea sign of pregnancy after implantation or before a missed period.
1. Hormonal changes
Progesterone, a hormone of pregnancy responsible for the weakening of the smooth muscles, including those of the digestive tract leads to changes in bowel movements.
Smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract remain affected until after pregnancy when the levels of progesterone decrease. For this reason, you may experience diarrhea early in pregnancy from the first trimester to even the third trimester.
You should however opt to see a doctor if you experience loose stool for weeks on end. In some cases, the cause is not hormonal changes. Diarrhea in early pregnancy could be a sign of miscarriage.
2. Changes in diet
Most women develop cravings during ovulation or right after conception. These sudden changes in the diet can lead to diarrhea early in pregnancy.
Sometimes increased intake of fruits and vegetables may cause unintentional diarrhea, which in many cases stops within a short period. Some pregnant women also become sensitive to some foods especially lactose (dairy products such as milk and cheese). Other than being one of the first signs of pregnancy, these could also be the cause of diarrhea after implantation.
3. Lactose intolerance
Studies show that a majority of women increase their intake of milk in pregnancy, and even before a missed period.
Some women develop cravings for dairy products such as ice cream. Because of the sudden increase of milk intake, most of these women develop lactose intolerance. They may therefore get episodes of diarrhea right after conception.
Dr. Spock explains that “having a few milk- free days may help alleviate symptoms if indeed it is lactose intolerance.”
4. Prenatal vitamins
Iron which is the leading prenatal supplement taken early in pregnancy might be the cause of the diarrhea sign in early pregnancy. It is advisable to skip some days without taking your multivitamin and monitor the effect to determine if they are the cause of diarrhea.
Some ingredients in iron have been found to either cause diarrhea or constipation after prolonged use during pregnancy.
Other causes of diarrhea after implantation
While you may experience diarrhea and nausea as signs of early pregnancy, it is not a good idea to presume that the cause is implantation. It could be an infection. Here are other possible causes of nausea, diarrhea and bloating in the first weeks of pregnancy, or even any other time.
- Viruses such as rotavirus, entorivus, and hepatitis can be the cause of severe diarrhea once present in the gut.
- Food poisoning, taking of contaminated foods can be a cause of abdominal upset.
- Maternal digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome often lead to chronic diarrhea.
- Excessive water intake causes imbalance in the internal environment which causes the body to naturally expel some to maintain balance.
- Contaminated water, especially if you have been in a new environment in the past few days. Dirty water may not only cause diarrhea but also mild to severe abdominal cramping.
If you think you have been exposed to such factors and your diarrhea is not just an early sign of pregnancy, seek medical help. Proper diagnosis and treatment should follow.
How to deal with diarrhea in the first week of pregnancy
Diarrhea is a first-week pregnancy symptom. The hormonal changes taking place in your body as a result of the pregnancy always produce a serious effect on your gut. While at it to do the following to help reduce diarrhea.
- Initiate dietary changes – Making significant changes in your eating will help you alleviate the symptoms fast. It is important to maintain a proper, balanced diet during this period.
Cravings in pregnancy might cause you to divert specifically to some foods which might have a better taste.
It is advisable to eat bananas, brown rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT) in your daily diet. These foods help bind intestinal content and get rid of diarrhea fast.
Diarrhea causes you to lose vital nutrients from the body. Therefore, replenish by adding a range of vegetables and fruits to your diet.
- Stay hydrated – Water is essential in helping the body carry out a lot of mechanical activities. Diarrhea and vomiting signs in early pregnancy can cause you complications when you are not careful about your water intake. Try consuming up to 12 glasses of water each day to help you replace the lost water.
Foods to eat to stop diarrhea after conception
Diarrhea common in early pregnancy should not get you worried. These foods will help you reduce the agony of having loose bowels.
- Fresh juices
- Cooked cereals
- BRAT an acronym standing for banana, rice, Applesauce, and Toast.
- A lot of water to keep you dehydrated
Foods to avoid during diarrhea
Dealing with diarrhea is hectic. However avoiding these foods will get rid of your symptoms sooner than you think.
- Avoid eating dairy products when suffering diarrhea in early pregnancy. Consuming dairy products only worsens diarrhea. Dairy products contain sugar. Processing sugar will only lead to bloating and gas. Am sure you don’t want that already!
- Oily foods: Stay away from French fries and any other deep fried foods. These irritate your gut and can cause increased diarrhea.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits contain fiber that is not suitable for your digestion during diarrhea. Fiber takes a lot of time to digest, and this means a lot more discomfort for you, including constipation.
- Carbonated drinks and caffeine: Caffeine has a diuretic effect meaning that it will cause dehydration which will only lead to serious complications. On the other hand, carbonated drinks add gas causing bloating.
- All foods causing gas: Some foods such as beans and cabbage contain and produce gas. Avoid such foods from the first week of pregnancy until your gut starts to function well.
Anti-diarrhea medications available
There are plenty of drugs to help you get better. It is wise to have the doctor prescribe medications for you. Anti-diarrhea drugs are best done away with as soon as diarrhea is over to avoid constipation. Here are a few drugs that might ease your situation.
- Anti-spasmodic – these type of medications help relax your muscles, alleviating the lower abdominal cramps. Most common drug of this kind is Pepto diarrhea control.
- Probiotics – A bacteria known a lactobacillus is useful in eliminating harmful bacteria present in your gut. During diarrhea, the number of this bacteria which helps with digestion is reduced. Your doctor might prescribe a probiotic in this case to help you add `good’ bacteria into your gut. A typical example of these drugs is Lactobacillus. It is available in pill and powder form.
- Water absorption drugs – Common mixtures such as Psyllium; absorb the excess water from your stools making it firm hence normal.
Home remedies for diarrhea
Since diarrhea is a sign of early pregnancy, it can go away on its own as your body gets used to hormonal changes. However, when it is too much and takes a bit long to clear on its own, try these home remedies for diarrhea in the first weeks of pregnancy.
Honey is soothing and loaded with antimicrobial properties. Drinking, a mixture of one glass of water and four tablespoons of honey every day will ease and finally stop diarrhea.
Aside from treating throat infections, ginger is very effective in treating diarrhea. Drink a cup of ginger tea with honey daily. This is known to alleviate abdominal cramping and pain as well as nausea in the first weeks of pregnancy.
Peppermint is another good remedy to help with stomach problems especially diarrhea. It is effective in decreasing the frequency of bowel movements. Add a spring of fresh mint into hot water, cover and drink once warm. Do this twice daily until the loose bowel movements stop.
This tea is good in soothing your gut to relieve diarrhea. It notably reduces the frequency of bowel movement and eases the pain.
Add chamomile tea into hot water, add lemon for taste and drink while warm. Consume this solution at least twice daily until diarrhea stops.
Vinegar has a lot of excellent properties for your stomach, especially during episodes of diarrhea. Vinegar is a natural antibacterial. It helps fight harmful bacteria existing in your gut thus causing balance and stopping diarrhea fast.
Traveler’s diarrhea and early miscarriage
Is diarrhea in early pregnancy a sign of miscarriage? Traveler’s diarrhea is a common condition among people traveling. It might start weeks after getting to the new environment or even during the journey. The primary cause of traveler’s diarrhea is contaminated water and food.
Pregnant women should be extra careful since this can always lead to fatal complications such as early miscarriage. Here are the tips to help you stay healthy as you travel around.
- Restrain from traveling to areas with poor sanitation.
- Restrain from buying food from street vendors.
- Do not drink tap water in high-risk regions.
- Avoid buying peeled fruits, or fruits you didn’t peel yourself.
Above all, avoid traveling to new environments immediately after conception. Such changes can cause some symptoms and lead to a miscarriage.
When to see a doctor
It is crucial to take seriously any slightest changes in your health especially when you are pregnant. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor when you notice the following:
- Signs of severe dehydration. Diarrhea can make you lose body water faster than you think. A dry mouth and feeling of light-headedness might be primary symptoms to prompt you of dehydration. When this occurs drink plenty of fresh juices and water throughout the day as you take the next step to see a doctor.
- Severe diarrhea, in cases where you have 8 or more episodes of watery stool with or without abdominal pain or cramping.
- Black or bloody stools should get you worried to seek medical attention.
- If you develop a fever with the diarrhea symptom of early pregnancy.
Complications of severe diarrhea in pregnancy
Diarrhea if not handled well might lead to the following
- Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance
- Reduced drug absorption ability
- Spread of infections
- Lactose intolerance
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
- Treat Cure Fast: Earliest signs of pregnancy before a missed period: http://www.treatcurefast.com/women/pregnancy/early-signs-of-pregnancy/#15_Diarrhea
- Mayo Clinic staff (October 2105) Diarrhea, symptoms, and causes: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/symptoms-causes/dxc-20232937
- Remedies for Diarrhea during pregnancy (June 2016): http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/diarrhea-remedies#overview1
- Early pregnancy symptoms: 17 signs to look for (March 2017): http://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/early-symptoms-timeline#overview1
- Pregnancy symptoms (October 2016): http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/pregnancy-am-i-pregnant#1
- Center for Disease Control, Traveler’s Diarrhea: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travelers-diarrhea