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Is it normal to have diarrhea in late pregnancy?

It's generally more common to suffer from constipation than diarrhea during pregnancy. But some women do report having mild diarrhea just before they go into labor.

Otherwise, just like when you're not pregnant, you can have diarrhea caused by a stomach virus or food poisoning. Certain antibiotics and antacids can sometimes cause diarrhea, as can some foods: Sugar-free candies are common culprits, as are dairy products for people who are lactose-intolerant. And women with gastrointestinal problems like inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulitis can suffer from occasional or chronic diarrhea.

If you've been suffering from constipation and haven't had a bowel movement in a number of days, and then you suddenly develop watery diarrhea, you might have fecal impaction. In this condition, hard, impacted stool causes a partial or complete obstruction of the large bowel. Watery stool sometimes leaks around it and shows up as diarrhea. In this case, you'll probably have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and a distended (or "bloated") abdomen. These are the signs of an intestinal obstruction, for which you'll need immediate evaluation and treatment.

If you've come down with a stomach virus or a mild case of food poisoning, you should improve in 24 hours or less. In the meantime, it's important to drink plenty of fluids, and it can often help to stick to bland foods like bananas, rice, and toast. If diarrhea continues for more than a day, call your midwife or doctor. Also call your healthcare provider if your diarrhea is accompanied by abdominal pain or fever, if you have "explosive" diarrhea, if it contains blood or mucus, or if you start to get dehydrated.

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