You might be surprised to know diarrhea can be a common sign of early pregnancy.
You could be trying for a baby, or perhaps you’re nervous about being pregnant.
Either way, you’re probably spending a lot of time looking for clues that suggest you’ve conceived.
Whenever you notice anything unusual or out of the ordinary, you’ll probably chalk it up immediately as a possible symptom of pregnancy.
Pregnancy symptoms can start as early as a few days after ovulation.
You can read more in Pregnancy Symptoms Before Missed Period.
It’s possible you’ll experience early signs and symptoms before a pregnancy test can confirm what you’ve been suspecting lately.
Some pregnant women experience common early signs of pregnancy, such as nausea, fatigue, sleepiness and sore breasts. Others wonder whether they have some tummy trouble when they experience diarrhea.
Read on for more information, and to find out whether diarrhea is a sign of early pregnancy.
Diarrhea during early pregnancy
Food digestion starts in the mouth. As you chew your food, it mixes with saliva, is swallowed, and moves down the esophagus to reach the stomach.
When it reaches the stomach, acids are added and a full metabolic process occurs to ensure nutrients and water can be absorbed when the food moves into the intestine.
Through the intestinal walls, useful nutrients are filtered into the blood while waste products move on down the bowel until they’re finally excreted.
Diarrhea is when you pass loose stools. This is due to the transit of food in the intestinal tract happening much faster than normal.
When you experience diarrhea, it means the digestive tract isn’t functioning properly and the food processing cycle is sped up so the absorption of nutrients and water doesn’t happen properly.
Diarrhea can be caused by various digestive problems.
If you have underlying conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease, you will have baseline knowledge, and you can tell if an episode of diarrhea feels any different from what you’ve experienced before.
Food poisoning or viral infections such as gastroenteritis (stomach flu) can also be the cause of loose bowel movements. Diarrhea with these illnesses tends to be accompanied by cramps and abdominal pain. When you get one of these conditions you’re generally quite unwell; you have a temperature, and aren’t able to carry on with life as usual for a couple of days.
What causes diarrhea in early pregnancy?
Pregnancy hormones, especially progesterone and hCG, tend to alter the digestive system’s regular functioning. This is usually why some women might experience diarrhea in early pregnancy.
It’s not pleasant, but it’s not particularly dangerous unless it’s frequent and you’re also dehydrated. In this case, you should see your midwife or doctor for advice.
If you’re currently suffering from diarrhea, you might wonder whether this could be an early sign of pregnancy.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to say. A pregnancy test is really the only way you can know for certain whether or not you’re pregnant.
Some women complain of diarrhea during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a pregnancy symptom.
Some people believe these bouts of diarrhea are simply coincidental and have nothing to do with the pregnancy.
Is diarrhea a sign of early pregnancy?
If you have doubts you might be pregnant, a change in your bowel movements routine, especially if you experience diarrhea might trigger your alerts as a sign of pregnancy.
Many women experience diarrhea in early pregnancy as an adaptation of all the hormonal changes the body goes through.
A lot of things happen during the first few days following conception. Once the egg has been fertilized by the sperm, the embryo travels to the uterus for implantation.
The embryo has everything it needs for the following days and the digestive system tends to be the first to experience this hormonal shift. Pregnancy hormones will affect your bowel movements. As a consequence, you might experience diarrhea, constipation or both.
You could be pregnant if:
- You’ve suddenly gone off your favorite foods
- You hold your breath when you walk past a smoker or garbage tuck
- You turn into a screaming banshee if your other half so much as brushes your breast.
It’s frustrating, but some early pregnancy signs are also symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
This isn’t particularly helpful if you’re desperate to know whether or not you’re pregnant.
Diarrhea is a sign of early pregnancy that isn’t commonly talked about.
It is something some women experience during early pregnancy.
It’s quite possible women simply don’t talk about this symptom because it doesn’t make for polite conversation.
Admitting you puked in a bin on the way to work is difficult enough, not to mention telling everyone you’re struggling from the squirts.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to say about of diarrhea is always a hint you might be pregnant.
You’ll have to wait until you can take a pregnancy test to find out for sure.
If you can’t wait that long, take a look at the 16 Most Reliable Pregnancy Symptoms and see how many you can tick off.
Is diarrhea a sign of pregnancy implantation?
Implantation occurs a few days after ovulation takes place – around week 3 of pregnancy.
Most of the hormonal changes that happen after this week can cause various digestive symptoms, such as nausea, morning sickness, bloating, heartburn, constipation, or even diarrhea.
Diarrhea, however, is not a reliable indicator that implantation has happened.
Is diarrhea a sign of miscarriage?
You can rest assured having diarrhea during early pregnancy is hardly ever about your baby’s wellbeing or a sign of anything going wrong with your pregnancy.
It’s usually completely unrelated to you being pregnant. It might be an upset stomach due to a virus or food poisoning. Or it could be a case of your pregnancy hormones just doing their job properly.
If you have diarrhea around the time you miscarry, it doesn’t mean diarrhea has made you lose your pregnancy.
When diarrhea happens at the time of a miscarriage it’s usually because progesterone production has stopped and your uterus and digestive tract are adapting to this change.
When your body is actively miscarrying you might experience diarrhea at the latest stages. If you have diarrhea with no other pregnancy-related symptoms, a miscarriage is highly unlikely.
Is diarrhea a sign of period?
Some women complain of diarrhea just before their period arrives. This is thought to be related to the prostaglandins – the hormones that cause the contractions in your uterus to shed its lining. Prostaglandins can also affect your intestines, causing contractions that result in diarrhea. Your intestine’s absorption rate can also be slowed, making food pass through your digestive tract faster.
However, some women experience the opposite, and feel quite bloated, retaining fluids and even being constipated before their period is due.
If diarrhea announces your period to you on a regular basis, make sure you check in with your healthcare provider; some investigations might be needed to determine the cause of this.
What is diarrhea a sign of during early pregnancy?
It’s possible hormone changes in early pregnancy are wreaking havoc on your digestive system.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that tells your body to prepare for pregnancy.
This is the hormone pregnancy tests look for.
HCG levels rise rapidly during early pregnancy. You can read more in hCG Levels – What Should They Be Each Week?
Women with higher levels of hCG often suffer from increased levels of morning sickness. So hCG might play a part in causing pregnancy nausea. It could potentially cause digestive problems such as diarrhea.
Progesterone levels also increase during the first trimester. Progesterone stops muscular contractions to make sure the pregnancy continues to full term. Due to this hormone, gastro-intestinal motility is also reduced.
Rising progesterone levels are thought to be responsible for pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, heartburn, and constipation.
They could also be responsible for early bouts of diarrhea.
If you have recently changed your diet in preparation for conceiving, this could be causing your digestive problems.
If you’ve recently cut out all the rubbish in your diet and switched to fresh vegetables, greens, and fruits, your body might simply be adapting to the additional fiber.
Don’t worry. It’s temporary. Your body will soon adjust to your new healthy, balanced diet.
If you’re taking fertility or prenatal vitamins, these too could be to blame for your diarrhea.
Check the ingredients and speak to your pharmacist to find out whether the vitamins you are taking could be the root of the problem.
Alternatively, you might simply have a stomach virus that is entirely unrelated to the pregnancy.
Will diarrhea during pregnancy harm the baby?
Generally speaking, a stomach bug is very unlikely to cause harm to your baby.
Even if you’re unable to keep anything down for 24 hours, your baby will almost certainly be fine.
Dehydration is usually the biggest concern when you have a sickness bug, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids when treating diarrhea. Dehydration will affect pregnant women much earlier than it will affect the baby.
If you have a sickness bug, it’s important to:
- Rest as much as possible
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you’re struggling to keep water down, try electrolyte icy-poles
- Try to eat. If you can keep food down, try to eat bland foods throughout the day whenever you feel hungry. Foods that are low in fiber and gentle on the stomach include apples, toast, crackers, and broth
- Wash your hands well before and after going to the bathroom; this will limit the spread of the virus.
Speak to your healthcare provider immediately if:
- The sickness bug lasts for more than 48 hours
- You’re unable to keep any fluids down
- There is blood in your stools
- You have abdominal pain
- You have a fever
- Your urine is very dark.
Severe dehydration can lead to pregnancy complications, so seek immediate emergency care.
How to treat diarrhea in pregnancy?
If diarrhea occurring during early pregnancy isn’t the result of an illness or health condition, there’s really not much you can do other than ride it out until your body adjusts to the hormone shifts.
Try to avoid changing your diet drastically; make gradual changes. Keep a diary of any potential food sensitivities and avoid those foods if they make diarrhea worse. Avoid taking prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach as well.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea due to a health condition such as Crohn’s disease, speak to your health care specialist about ways to manage this situation.
Don’t take over-the-counter medication to treat diarrhea for food poisoning or gastro without checking with your healthcare provider to make sure it is safe for use during pregnancy. Not all medications are considered safe for pregnant women.