Pregnancy diarrhea: symptoms, causes and when to worry

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Pregnancy diarrhea

Among the different and most common ailments that can occur during pregnancy there is undoubtedly diarrhea: it could be caused by hormonal changes in progress, but also by intestinal infections or other problems for which diarrhea is only a symptom . So let's see what the causes and remedies are and what to eat if you suffer from diarrhea in pregnancy.

In this article

  • Diarrhea in pregnancy in the first trimester
  • Causes
  • Diarrhea in pregnancy and miscarriage
  • Diarrhea in pregnancy: when to worry
  • Diarrhea in pregnancy: what to eat

Diarrhea in pregnancy in the first trimester

Il stomach pain and diarrhea in early pregnancy can they be a symptom of pregnancy?

The answer is: not really. As we have said in the first weeks of pregnancy, several hormonal and physical changes occur in the mother's body. One of these is the increase in the levels of progesterone, an indispensable hormone in this phase because it favors the nesting of the fertilized egg. But progesterone also affects smooth muscles, it relaxes them and this causes constipation, digestive difficulties and constipation, which is in fact one of the early symptoms of pregnancy in its own right. The exact opposite, therefore, of diarrhea.


The possible causes of diarrhea in pregnancy I'm:

  • hormonal changes;
  • diet and nutrition;
  • intake of certain vitamin complexes;
  • intestinal infections.

More specifically, these disorders can be caused by both physical and hormonal changes taking place, but also by some changes made to the usual diet (for example a greater consumption of vegetables and dairy products).

Towards the end of pregnancy, diarrhea can be caused by increased levels of prostaglandins. These are hormones that, like oxytocin, help stimulate contractions in the uterus but can also increase movement along the digestive tract. The increase in prostaglandin levels is also one of the reasons why we often get diarrhea during menstruation.

Finally, diarrhea in pregnancy can be linked to an intestinal infection: Some organisms that can cause infectious diarrhea are bacteria, such as Escherichia coli or any of the Campylobacter, but also Salmonella or norovirus and rotavirus.

Diarrhea in pregnancy and miscarriage

La diarrhea in pregnancy it can be dangerous if it becomes chronic and lasts several days because dehydration prevents the correct nourishment of the fetus and the maternal organism but cannot cause an abortion. The abdominal cramps that occur when there is diarrhea are not uterine contractions. However, diarrhea can be a symptom of a miscarriage because in this case the levels of prostaglandins, responsible for the onset of diarrhea, increase.

Diarrhea in pregnancy: when to worry

It is advisable to call your doctor if the diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours and if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • temperature,
  • dehydration,
  • bloody stools,
  • frequent vomiting.

It is important to get immediate medical attention should they show up:

  • stools that contain blood or pus
  • diarrhea lasting more than 48 hours
  • six or more episodes of diarrhea in a 24-hour period
  • high fever
  • frequent vomiting
  • pain in the rectum or abdomen
  • symptoms of dehydration: dark urine, thirst, dry mouth, feeling lightheaded or urinating less frequently.
Read also: Belly pain in pregnancy

Diarrhea in pregnancy: what to eat

Since diarrhea can cause dehydration it is important to compensate for the loss of fluids drinking lots of waterliquids containing electrolytes, such as broths and soups, drinks rich in mineral salts, caffeine-free drinks. In case of severe dehydration the doctor may prescribe some oral rehydrating solutions.

At this stage it is best to follow a low-salt diet characterized by simple and dry foods such as:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • simple potatoes
  • rice
  • crackers
  • toast.

To avoid:

  • dairy product,
  • anything high in fat or sugar,
  • drinks containing caffeine.

Your doctor may prescribe a intestinal disinfectant, which according to studies does not harm the fetus, but it is always important to avoid taking over-the-counter drugs without first consulting the gynecologist.


  • Gastrointestinal Diseases in Pregnancy: Nausea, Vomiting, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Constipation, and Diarrhea
  • American Pregnancy Association
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