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Diarrhea during pregnancy: how to treat it?

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Diarrhea during pregnancy: how to treat it

Having diarrhea during pregnancy can happen. But while self-medication is strongly discouraged, how to get rid of it? Tips from grandmothers, hygienic measures. We help you find solutions to diarrhea when you are pregnant.

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In terms of digestion, pregnancy is often associated with constipation due to increased progesterone levels, which tends to slow down digestive activity. So what about diarrhea during pregnancy?

Gastro, food poisoning: possible causes

Pregnant women are more fragile than the general population. They are also more likely to catch certain viruses or bacteria that can cause diarrhea and other unpleasant transit problems.

In the majority of cases, an episode of diarrhea has a portion of food or viral cause. In the latter case, we often speak of gastroenteritis.

Other symptoms to watch out for

However, a more “annoying” cause is listeriosis, a bacterial infection linked to the Listeria bacteria. But, in addition to diarrhea, this infection will be associated with fever and muscle aches, in other words, a flu-like syndrome. In this case, the baby’s health could be at stake.

Apart from that, an episode of diarrhea during pregnancy, if it does not last, does not get worse and is not accompanied by a fever, should not cause undue concern.

Diarrhea and pregnancy: self-medication, useless or even dangerous

Self-medication is strongly advised against, especially since many drugs are contraindicated during pregnancy.

Pregnant diarrhea: why you should not take Smecta

At the end of February 2019, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (Ansm) even issued a warning about clay-based anti-diarrhea drugs of the “Smecta” type and its generics, which could contain small amounts of heavy metals naturally present in the environment, such as lead. She, therefore, advises pregnant and breastfeeding women not to use these drugs, which are usually used to treat acute diarrhea.

 In addition, this type of medication reduces the intensity of the symptoms but does not cure diarrhea. It is a bit like medication against the common cold, and the benefit-risk balance is not favorable.

Diarrhea during pregnancy: hydration above all!

When faced with an episode of diarrhea during pregnancy, the first thing to do is fight against dehydration. It means drinking a lot of water, and why not also sweetened drinks, to combine rehydration and energy intake to compensate for intestinal losses.

Once it is not customary, sweetened drinks like Coca-Cola (recommended in developing countries) can be a good option. Ideal when you have a bit of a loose stomach, and you don’t eat much otherwise. Diluting the juice of a lemon or an orange in a bit of water is also a natural remedy against diarrhea, which allows hydration and a supply of mineral salts (electrolytes).

Conversely, diuretic drinks such as tea, coffee, herbal teas or alcohol (which should be avoided throughout pregnancy) should be avoided as they may increase dehydration.

Diarrhea and pregnancy: when to worry, when to consult?

In the presence of diarrhea during pregnancy, it is strongly advised to consult a doctor if the symptoms do not go away and last for more than two days if they worsen and are accompanied by fever, vomiting, or blood in the stools. It can be a sign of a bacterial infection, food poisoning or an infection by a parasite. The doctor will then carry out the necessary tests to determine the most appropriate treatment.

How to relieve diarrhea during pregnancy?

Dietary measures are usually sufficient to overcome an episode of diarrhea during pregnancy.

As we have seen, hydration is essential. Therefore, you should drink plenty of water and sweetened beverages and avoid diuretic drinks (tea, coffee, herbal tea, alcohol).

Conversely, it is advisable to avoid spicy foods and dishes and vegetables rich in fiber, which could accentuate the symptoms of diarrhea.

Pregnant diarrhea: the foods to choose

  • The BRAT diet

This acronym comes from the contraction of the English words “banana”, “rice”, “applesauce”, and “toast”. It means bananas, white rice, applesauce and toast. These foods are all known to fight diarrhea. Bananas and applesauce are rich in pectin, soluble fibers that reduce digestive discomfort and help balance the gut flora or microbiota.

Rice and bread are rich in starch, which slows down the phenomenon of diarrhea.

  • Quince and carrot

The carrot is a vegetable particularly rich in pectin, making it an excellent food to fight diarrhea. As for quince, it is the ultimate anti-diarrhea food: its high tannin content slows down transit, while the pectin it contains help retain water.

  • Blond psyllium

Rich in soluble fibers, psyllium regulates intestinal transit. It can therefore be used to fight constipation as well as diarrhea during pregnancy. Small quantities are best to start with, mixed in water or in a compote, so as to see how the body responds.

Note that psyllium should be taken away from medication, or even meals, as it would also reduce intestinal absorption.

Pregnant diarrhea: the importance of probiotics

It is advisable to eat foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, miso or sauerkraut (if you tolerate it well!) to rebuild your intestinal flora during and especially after an episode of diarrhea. As indicated in its leaflet, which is usually recommended to strengthen the intestinal flora after diarrhea, it is not a medicine that can be taken during pregnancy unless prescribed by a doctor. Remember that, in general, it is preferable not to take any medication during pregnancy without the advice of a health professional.


Constipation and diarrhea are common during pregnancy. It is critical to stay hydrated if you are experiencing diarrhea. Watery, loose bowel movements eliminate a significant amount of fluid from the body. Avoid high-fat, fried foods, spicy foods, and foods high in fiber.

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