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Joanne Van Zuidam

Bowel Issues During Pregnancy

Having bowel issues? Don't worry, you're not the only one. Find out how why it may be happening and how to treat it.

We’re using "bowel issues" here as our nice term for any changes in your poops during pregnancy. You might experience loose bowel movements or diarrhea, hard poop (due to constipation) or changes in poop color. Read on to learn what could be causing it, how to treat it and when to head to the doctor.

Causes of Bowel Issues During Pregnancy

Changes in bowel habits are very common, especially in the first trimester, but it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause. It may be nervousness and anxiety about being pregnant that's causing your constipation or diarrhea, or it may be something in your diet.

Hemorrhoids are very common and could cause your stools to become bloody. Increased blood flow plays a part in this, along with the fact that your growing uterus is putting pressure on your veins. Drinking plenty of water and eating a lot of fiber can help prevent constipation, which in turn may help stop hemorrhoids from forming.

Thyroid problems can also wreck havoc with your bowels. Hypothyroidism can cause constipation, while  hyperthyroidism can cause diarrhea, says Joseph A. Salinas, MD, an ob-gyn at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston.

How To Treat Bowel Issues During Pregnancy

Hemorrhoids are often the result of constipation, so you’ll need to treat that by eating more fiber and drinking more fluids. Sometimes, the iron in prenatal vitamins can cause constipation. To counter that, Salinas says to increase your fiber intake, eat more fruit and, if necessary, ask for a prescription stool softener, which is completely safe in pregnancy.

For diarrhea, drink more fluids, including water, fruit juice and clear soups. Talk to your doctor before taking any antidiarrheal medication.

When To See The Doctor

If the constipation, diarrhea or bloody stools continue, it's time to see your doctor. In the meantime, drink plenty of water. In some cases diarrhea can be caused by food poisoning, but it usually resolves itself in 24 hours. If it doesn't, your doctor should check if there's something else going on. You should also head to the doctor if the bowel issues start up after you've been traveling abroad.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Constipation During Pregnancy

Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy

Diarrhea During Pregnancy