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Causes of Diarrhea During Pregnancy

by
author image R. Y. Langham, Ph.D.
R. Y. Langham served as a senior writer for "The Herald" magazine from 1996-99. Langham holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Fisk University, a Master of Science in marriage and family therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University and a Ph.D in family psychology from Capella University. Dr. R.Y. Langham published her first psychological thriller in September 2011. It can be purchased on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and Lulu.com.
Causes of Diarrhea During Pregnancy
What causes diarrhea during pregnancy? Photo Credit pregnant #17 image by Adam Borkowski from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

Women usually experience diarrhea sometime during their pregnancy. Diarrhea is described as loose and watery stools that occur several times a day. Pregnancy diarrhea is usually caused by something outside of the body, but it can also be caused by an increase in pregnancy hormones, according to the website Women's Healthcare Topics. Diarrhea is usually not serious, but if it is accompanied by a high fever, vomiting or severe abdominal pain then it could be something more serious that requires medical attention.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can cause sudden diarrhea during pregnancy according to the website Parents. Pregnant women may have mild symptoms consisting of fever and aches that last a few hours or they may develop a bacterial infection that requires hospitalization. Food poisoning often starts with fever and chills and then progresses to nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and dehydration. In some severe cases, a pregnant woman may experience an unusually painful headache or stiff neck along with the diarrhea that requires immediate medical attention. A pregnant woman may have food poisoning if she experiences sudden diarrhea that causes intense abdominal cramps and pain, but clears up within 24 hours.

Stomach Virus

Stomach viruses can cause pregnant women to have watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Carrying a baby puts a tremendous amount of stress on a pregnant woman's body making her vulnerable to a variety of stomach ailments. A stomach virus can be mild or severe and it may last between 1 to 10 days, depending on pregnant woman's immune system, according to the website eMedTV.

Hormonal Changes

Fluctuating hormone levels may contribute to diarrhea in pregnant women. Most women experience a surge in pregnancy hormones that slows and relaxes their gastrointestinal system triggering diarrhea, according to the Utah Department of Health. In addition, many women have a bout of diarrhea shortly before they give birth. Pregnant women experience a surge of pregnancy hormones right before they deliver which can upset their digestive systems causing diarrhea.

Diet

A change in diet can cause diarrhea during pregnancy. Many pregnant women change their diet to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to provide their baby with the nutrients and vitamins that it needs to grow. A pregnant woman will experience an upset stomach and diarrhea if she changes her diet too quickly without giving her body a chance to adapt to the change, according to ProctoMed.com. Women who eat a lot of sugar-free candies or other artificial products may experience diarrhea during pregnancy due to a newly acquired sensitivity to certain foods. In addition, some women may experience diarrhea when they increase their dairy intake because they are lactose intolerant and cannot tolerate large amounts of milk or cheese.

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