When you are trying to get pregnant, waiting to find out if you’ve conceived can seem like it takes forever. You wish you could find out if you’re pregnant even faster than home pregnancy tests can reveal the answer. You keep hoping you will miss that next period and keep looking for hints that you have conceived.
There are many first signs of pregnancy. For instance, is pooping a lot an early pregnancy symptom? Pregnant women do experience changes in bowel movements, which may include either constipation or diarrhea.
While this topic is not as openly discussed as other symptoms, bowel issues are inevitable throughout a pregnancy. In fact, it could be one of the earliest signs that you’re pregnant. Knowing this will help you better prepare to be a mother.
In this article, let’s take a more in-depth look at the causes of bowel issues during pregnancy, how to solve them, and how your doctor can help.
What Are the Causes of Diarrhea?
Everyone you know has experienced diarrhea at some point in their life. They have made those mad dashes to the bathroom, trying to hold off the impending explosion of the watery, loose stool. Diarrhea makes you miserable and often lasts one to two days.
What is causing your body to react so dramatically? When food enters your stomach, acids quickly go to work turning the solid food into a juicy mess. The thin liquid transfers out of your stomach into your intestines.
The intestines go to work on extracting the nutritional value from the pureed food and removing the excess fluid. It slowly turns into a denser solid as it passes through the body, leaving only the solid waste you see when you poop.
When the food moves too quickly through your small intestine and colon, the excess fluids do not get removed, leading to runny stools. Many health issues can cause the intestine to move the food too fast through the digestive tract including bacterial or viral infections, Crohn’s disease, food poisoning, and many other factors.
Is Pooping a Lot a Symptom of Early Pregnancy?
The short answer is not always. Almost 72% of women report having some type of bowel problems during their early pregnancy. Your body is changing rapidly, and bowel issues can be a result.
This does not mean it will always result in diarrhea. Constipation is the most common complaint among pregnant women, but loose stools and hemorrhoids are regular complaints, too. Hemorrhoids more commonly occur in the later stages of pregnancy.
The hormones in your body change drastically during pregnancy. These changes most commonly cause constipation instead of diarrhea. This means diarrhea by itself is not a clear indicator that you have conceived.
Women who are pregnant have a weakened immune system. Your body begins to complain about all types of things. Food that smelled delicious before now smells horrible. Small changes in diet can cause you to feel sick.
A simple flu bug which you would have shrugged off before have you trying to decide if you want to vomit or poop first. Diarrhea can occur easily in women with a weaker immune system.
Have you always had regular bowel movements that you could almost set the clock by? Don’t count on that staying true when you are pregnant. The changes in your body will disrupt your natural body rhythms resulting in constipation and sometimes diarrhea.
Nausea, or morning sickness, is also common. The frequent vomiting from morning sickness can cause you to be slightly dehydrated, leading to constipation.
Why Do Some Women Report Pooping More Often While Pregnant?
There are many reasons pregnant women may poop more often during the first trimester of their pregnancy. Let’s take a quick look at the four primary causes.
1. Hormonal Changes in Your Body
Your estrogen and progesterone levels are going to fluctuate dramatically during early pregnancy. The increase in hormone levels slows down the digestive system in an attempt to extract more nutrition from the food you eat. The body is attempting to make sure your developing baby gets added nutrition.
When your digestive system slows down, it most frequently results in constipation but can lead to pooping more regularly, too.
2. The Role of Prenatal Vitamins on Bowel Movements
Your prenatal vitamins are rich in iron. Increased iron can lead to constipation. So, how could this result in more frequent bowel movements? The pharmaceutical companies attempt to overcome the issues with constipation by adding a mild stool softener to the prenatal vitamin.
As you can imagine, if your body is sensitive to the stool softener, you will start pooping more often. If you run into this issue, ask your doctor for a prenatal vitamin without a stool softener.
3. You Are Eating Differently
If you suspect you are pregnant, you will probably change your diet almost immediately. You want to make sure you eat the right foods for your baby, not just for your own good.
You will probably switch to healthier foods with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. Suddenly, your body is getting more fiber than ever. Your body goes into overdrive trying to process and eliminate the added fiber, leading to more frequent pooping.
Stop and think for a moment. Have you added fresh foods like apples, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, and other fruits and veggies? All of the added fiber will lead to more regular bowel movements.
You are on the right track with the changes in eating, but it can wreak havoc with your digestive system until your body adjusts to the new diet.
4. Thyroid Issues
Your thyroid levels can change during pregnancy, too. If your body produced too little thyroid hormone, or what’s called hypothyroidism, you could get constipated.
On the reverse side, if your body started overproducing thyroid hormones, known as hyperthyroidism, you could get diarrhea. Your doctor will monitor your thyroid levels during your pregnancy.
Why Do Pregnant Women Have So Many Problems with Constipation?
You are more likely to get constipated during your pregnancy than have issues with diarrhea. We need to take a look at your hormone levels again.
Your progesterone levels increase during pregnancy. It is the hormone that signals the body to thicken the uterine lining to support the growing embryo. Your body cycles up and down on progesterone levels when you are not pregnant. The levels increase as you ovulate, then dissipate if the egg is not fertilized. When you conceive, the levels of progesterone rise even further and stay elevated throughout your pregnancy.
How does this affect your bowels? Progesterone causes smooth muscles to relax. Your stomach and intestines are packed with smooth muscles used to move food through your digestive system. Since the muscles are being signaled to relax, they move food more slowly through your body.
Since the processing food is moving more slowly, more water is extracted from the food making it more solid. The denser waste is harder to pass out of the body, leading to constipation. If you have continuing issues with constipation, your doctor may prescribe a gentle stool softener.
Is Frequent Pooping Always Diarrhea?
Frequent pooping and diarrhea can be related, but not always. Diarrhea is when your body leaves too much liquid in your poop. The ultra-soft poop is expelled in gushes, a very unpleasant feeling.
If your poop is still relatively solid, you do not have diarrhea. You may be pooping more frequently due to eating more high-fiber foods. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.
Could It Be Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is defined as a gastrointestinal disorder which causes cramping, pain, bloating, and gas. It is a chronic disease which can last a lifetime.
While it is possible you have IBS, it will not be caused by your pregnancy. If you have battled the issue before pregnancy, then speak to your doctor. IBS can worsen during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
Keep in mind, it may be more difficult for your doctor to diagnose IBS while you are pregnant since pregnant women frequently report diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and abdominal pain.
If you are being treated for IBS, make sure you mention it to your gynecologist. They may want to change your medications to help reduce your symptoms and to protect your growing baby.
What Can You Do about Frequent Pooping While You Are Pregnant?
First, you need to relax. Diarrhea during pregnancy is common and usually temporary. The changes in your hormones and diet can trigger a bout of diarrhea, but thankfully, it often passes quickly.
Here are a few home remedy ideas pregnant women report as helpful in reducing frequent pooping during pregnancy.
- Drink more water. You should strive to drink 8 to 10 cups of water per day at a minimum.
- Stay away from excess sugar. Eliminate soda and high sugar snacks.
- Switch to a prenatal without a stool softener. (Speak to your doctor first.)
- Probiotics can help regulate your digestive system.
- Switch from sugar to honey. Honey can help smooth out your digestive system.
- Eliminate caffeine, or at least reduce it to no more than 200 milligrams per day.
Your doctor will immediately advise you to reduce sugars and increase water intake when you report diarrhea. The increased water sounds backward, but it does work. Your body needs to stay hydrated to function properly.
Reducing sugar and caffeine helps reduce problems with dehydration. If you are suffering from diarrhea, first consult your doctor. If they say there is no food poisoning or infection or any other medical diagnosis apart from the pregnancy itself, then make fundamental lifestyle changes.
If your diarrhea persists, speak to your doctor to eliminate food poisoning or other health issues.
Should You Call the Doctor?
During your first trimester, your body is going through rapid changes, which can result in diarrhea. If the problems with diarrhea last more than 1 or 2 days, call your doctor.
As you go into your second and third trimesters, you should be a little more cautious. If you see any sudden changes in bowel movements, let your doctor know.
Two of your doctor’s biggest concerns will be your energy levels and your hydration levels. Both constipation and diarrhea can be exhausting for an already overtaxed body. Make sure you drink plenty of water and get adequate rest. If you keep experiencing problems, visit with your doctor.
If you ever notice blood in your stool, immediately contact your doctor. This could simply be the result of too hard of poop from dehydration, but you want your doctor to know.
Is pooping a lot a sign of pregnancy? As you have probably already guessed, it may be a clue, but it is not proof. You would probably have as much luck flipping a coin for the answer.
You are anxious to know the answer, but trying to guess by little changes in your body is not going to help. Relax and wait to see if you miss your next period, or until a home pregnancy test can confirm your suspicions.
If you are having continuing issues with frequent pooping, you should talk to your doctor. Since you are hoping to be pregnant, you want to make sure you stay fit and healthy.
- IBS during Pregnancy: What to Expect. https://www.webmd.com/ibs/features/what-to-expect-pregnant-have-ibs#1
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Your Pregnancy. https://www.healthline.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/pregnancy#1
- Nutrition during Pregnancy. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy