Loose Motions During Pregnancy
Loose motions are a common occurrence during the period of pregnancy. Diarrhoea or loose motion is watery or loose stools passed more than 3 to 4 times in a day. It may be associated with nausea and vomiting, stomach ache, fever or headache.
Moderate intensity of both constipation and diarrhoea are experienced during pregnancy as a result of hormonal changes and the growing baby. Loose motion during pregnancy is common in the first and third trimesters. Loose motions in the third trimester indicate that the body is getting ready for forthcoming labour. However, it is not to be considered as a sign of onset of labour.
Causes of Loose Motion in Adults
Most times, causes of loose motion during pregnancy are the same as those occurring in non-pregnant women or men.
- Loose motions due to bacterial and viral infections of the gastrointestinal tract, such as typhoid, cholera, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E and other diseases disturbing the GI tract.
- Food poisoning after intake of contaminated food or water.
- Hyperacidity or indigestion.
Incidences of loose motions increase during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester due to the various dietary changes made by the expectant mother. These include the following:
- High-fibre diet
- Increased amount of milk may cause lactose intolerance and lead to diarrhoea
- Vitamins and mineral supplements, such as iron, calcium, etc.
- Intolerance to the food items, which the body accepted before pregnancy
Loose motions may also occur in pregnant women suffering from autoimmune disorders like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Pregnant women are more prone to suffer from loose motions, while they are travelling (traveller’s diarrhoea) from contaminated food and water and lack of hygiene.
Treating Loose Motion During Pregnancy
- Preventing dehydration by increasing the fluid intake is the most important step in the management of loose motions.
- Replace the lost water and salts from the body by drinking plenty of water and other fluids.
- Oral rehydration solution (ORS) sachet can be used in severe cases of loose motions.
- Homemade liquids like buttermilk, and lemonade, or coconut water can be had to replenish the lost water and salts.
Loose Motion: What To Eat?
- Opt for bland food with less oil and spices.
- Avoid foods that are spicy, fried and difficult to digest.
- Increase the intake of soft and high-fibre food items such as apples and banana that help in reducing the frequency of loose motions.
- Avoid milk when suffering from diarrhoea. However, fermented milk products like curd or yogurt, cottage cheese (paneer) and buttermilk are rich sources of probiotics, which help to restore the good bacteria in the gut that are lost during diarrhoea.
- BRAT (banana, rice, apple and toast) diet is the best diet for loose motion during pregnancy.
- Nutritional supplements can be stopped when suffering from loose motions and restarted later with medical advice.
- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if loose motions continue for more than three days and increase in severity.
- IV fluids might be needed in cases of severe dehydration.
- Treatment for loose motion arising due to autoimmune disorders should be continued as per the treating doctor’s advice along with general dietary measures advised for loose motions.
Loose Motions During Pregnancy While Travelling
Precautionary measures to prevent loose motion while travellinginclude:
- Make a pre-travel visit to your gynaecologist to ensure that you are fit to travel and to identify medicines that can be used for different health issues, like loose motions, nausea, etc. that might arise during travel.
- Pregnant women travelling to infection prone areas should get themselves vaccinated.
- While travelling, drink only bottled water to avoid loose motions from drinking contaminated water.
- Eat freshly cooked hot food. Avoid uncooked and raw food likes salads or sandwiches.
- Eat fruits that are thoroughly washed and freshly peeled. Avoid eating fruits that cannot be peeled.
- Opt for a low oil and low spiced diet.
Loose motion in 9th month of pregnancy or in the third trimester arises due to the biological changes that occur in the body when preparing for labour. Thus, these cannot be prevented and are normal.
Are There Any Effects On The Baby?
Mild to moderate degree of loose motions normally do not have any adverse effects on the baby. However, if there is dehydration can lead to preterm labour.
Research has shown that active autoimmune diseases (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome) during pregnancy have led to delivery of premature babies or low birth weight babies and in rare cases even foetal death.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.