The reason for loose motion in pregnancy could be due to different circumstances, as explained earlier, due to internal changes such as hormones and diet, and external changes such as stress.
Here are the most common reasons for the onset of loose motion
1. Changes in Diet
With the onset of pregnancy, the recommended dietary changes might be a sudden shift from the normal for a mother. Studies show that pregnancy affects the gut flora (microorganisms in the digestive tract). As this gut flora is responsible for protecting the stomach against pathogens and aiding in digestion, an effect in its development could have an adverse effect. Other changes, such as increased protein intake through dairy, are also known to cause loose stools.
2. New Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivity could develop, or sometimes even improve, during the course of pregnancy. Fluctuating hormone levels tend to affect the way the body reacts to certain foods.
Certain ingredients or foods that may have been tolerable before pregnancy could trigger reactions like excessive gas, acidity, loose motion and vomiting during pregnancy. The most common triggers are dairy, eggs and spicy foods.
3. Hormonal Changes
Studies have found the gallbladder and gut to be hormonally responsive organs. Prostaglandins, the substance that is responsible for contractions in the uterus could also cause contractions in the intestines, resulting in increased bowel movements. They can also increase electrolyte secretion, leading to diarrhoea.
4. Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins help women meet the recommended nutrient doses, aid in fetal development and improve overall health. Since they are a mix of a variety of vitamins and minerals, some women may experience side effects like nausea, constipation or loose motion when taking them.
A study on gastrointestinal symptoms during pregnancy by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) noted iron supplements as a factor known to cause constipation in some patients and diarrhoea in some patients.
This is likely due to many brands adding stool softeners to counteract the effects of slowed intestinal movements during pregnancy. Such side effects are not uncommon and can easily be addressed with a switch in the brand
5. Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is the blanket term for the adverse effects of consuming contaminated food or liquids. The cause could be bacterial, viral, parasitic, allergen-related or even toxin-related. Hence, it is one of the more serious causes of diarrhoea that should be addressed immediately.
What sets it apart from a harmless bout of diarrhoea would be symptoms like vomiting, fever and stomach aches. Contact your general physician promptly if you experience these symptoms to rule out food poisoning.
The most common types of food poisoning are:
- Listeria (bacteria): Found in unpasteurised milk, raw foods and refrigerated meats. Symptoms have been known to appear as late as 2 months after consumption.
- E. coli (bacteria): Can be picked up from undercooked food, contaminated water and even person to person contact.
- Salmonella (bacteria): Caused from raw or undercooked meat, eggs and exposure to infected animals.
6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
While the exact cause of IBS needs more research to ascertain, an overly sensitive colon or immune system have been considered as common causes.
IBS is usually a set of intestinal symptoms that differ in people. Studies have shown hormones like estrogen and progesterone are more likely to trigger symptoms of IBS and any changes to them (such as pregnancy) could aggravate the symptoms.
Worrying too much could further the problem by creating a cycle of stress-induced hormone surges.
The symptoms of IBS include:
- Abdominal aches
- Stool that is lumpy with more mucus
- Gas and bloating
- Worsening of symptoms after meals
IBS is known to show up and disappear over time, but there is no permanent cure for it. Therefore, managing the symptoms of IBS through diet and stress reduction during pregnancy is crucial for both the mother and child.
7. Traveller’s Diarrhoea
Traveller’s diarrhoea is any digestive tract infection that is picked up while travelling. The causes are mostly unsanitary conditions or unhygienic food and water. Its symptoms are the same as any stomach infection:
- Stomach cramps
- Loose stools
Seeing as it is a common custom for Indian women to visit their maternal home during pregnancy, the chances of contracting a stomach infection increase while travelling. This could be because pregnant women have been found to have lowered gastric acidity and increased gastrointestinal transit time, making them more susceptible.
Hence, to avoid loose motion problems during pregnancy, take extreme caution while travelling by sanitising or washing hands before meals, limiting or avoiding outside food, reheating food before consumption and thoroughly washing and cleaning raw fruit.
8. Viral Infection
During pregnancy loose motion can be caused by viral infections is a common occurrence, mainly due to careless hygiene or consuming contaminated food or water. Also commonly known as stomach flu, such viral infections are usually contagious. They cause inflammation of the stomach and diarrhoea, accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Fever and chills
- Muscle or joint aches
- Stomach cramps and pain
- Loss of appetite
– Loose motion in early pregnancy or loose motion in last month of pregnancy could stem from various causes. The most common reason is hormonal changes that make the digestive system more sensitive, alter gut health and even react differently to diet changes.
– Prenatal vitamins have also been noted to cause loose stools due to certain components like Iron or stool softeners.
– Pregnancy can also trigger conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) through hormone fluctuations and stress, further increasing the chances of diarrhoea.
– Infections can also cause diarrhoea along with more serious symptoms, making them important to treat and take care of immediately.
Consult a gynaecologist to evaluate your risk factors