Diarrhea During Pregnancy
Diarrhea is not an illness; it is a symptom -- similar to the way fever is a symptom. Depending on the cause of diarrhea, other symptoms may or may not occur with it. Other symptoms that may accompany diarrhea include:
- Abdominal cramping ("stomach ache")
- Abdominal pain (or stomach pain)
- Muscle aches
- General sense of tiredness.
In pregnant women, diarrhea typically lasts anywhere from 1 to 10 days, depending on the cause. It can range from mild to severe.
Most viruses and bacteria that cause diarrhea do not have any impact on the baby because they stay within the digestive tract. The biggest concern for pregnant women with diarrhea is the risk of severe dehydration, which can affect the baby.
Most cases of diarrhea will improve on their own. Therefore, treatment goals in pregnant women with diarrhea are usually focused on providing supportive care. Supportive care refers to treating symptoms, such as dehydration, that can occur as a result of diarrhea. Preventing dehydration is especially important for pregnant women, because severe dehydration can affect the baby.
Dehydration is the loss of fluids from the body. Important salts or minerals, known as electrolytes, can also be lost with the fluids. The symptoms of dehydration include:
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Little or no urine (or dark yellow urine)
- Decreased tears
- Severe weakness or lethargy
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.