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Bowel Issues During Pregnancy

Are you having bowel issues during pregnancy? Don't worry, you're not the only one. Find out how to treat your bowel issues and how they might affect baby.

What are bowel issues during pregnancy?

We’re using this as our “nice” term for any changes in your poops during pregnancy. They might become loose (diarrhea), hard (constipation), discolored or bloody.

What can be causing my bowel issues during pregnancy?

Changes in bowel habits are very common -- especially in the first trimester. You can experience constipation or loose stools and diarrhea, and it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause. It may be nervousness and anxiety about being pregnant, 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 role, along with the pregnant uterus putting pressure on the veins. Avoiding constipation (by drinking plenty of water and eating a lot of fiber) may help prevent 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, ob-gyn at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston.

When should I go to the doctor about my bowel issues during pregnancy?

See your doctor if the constipation, diarrhea or bloody stools continue -- in the meantime, drink adequate amounts of water.

Diarrhea can be caused by food poisoning, but it usually resolves itself in 24 hours. If not, then there’s something else going on and you should see your doctor.

If you were traveling abroad, you could be infectious and need to see your doctor.

How should I 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 suggests you increase 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.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Constipation During Pregnancy

Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy

Diarrhea During Pregnancy

-- Joanne Van Zuidam

See More: Pregnancy Health , Pregnancy Symptoms

Reminder: Medical info on The Bump is FYI only and doesn't replace a visit to a medical professional.