All expectant mothers readily accept the idea that they will experience morning sickness during the first trimester. Of course their expectations are that the experience will be one of mere annoyance and mild symptoms. That is a reasonable expectation considering that 60% of all pregnant women have no ill effects from the experience. It’s true that there are no verified causes for morning sickness, but years of experience have led to the development of medicines and processes that provide symptomatic relief.
It’s unfortunate that a small percentage of pregnant women experience more serious morning sickness symptoms, with nausea and vomiting continuing with increasing severity into the second and third trimesters. These women require close medical supervision until the baby is born and the symptoms cease. When the symptoms are severe, problems with poor nutrition and dehydration are serious concerns for the health of both mother and baby. Most of these severe cases can be effectively managed by changing eating habits, substituting different foods, and prescribing medicines to deal with the symptoms.
When the extreme symptoms are exacerbated by chronic diarrhea, dehydration can become more probable because liquids that the woman has been able to keep down are lost in the diarrhea. Severe diarrhea can cause premature births, and severe diarrhea can be fatal to both mother and baby. Initially, failure to absorb adequate nutrition can be more damaging to the mother than to the baby. The baby will take what it needs from the mother without regard for the mother’s health.
For a successful pregnancy and a healthy child, excellent nutrition and hydration are critical. When there is a nutritional deficiency and rapid weight loss, the mother-to-be can have metabolic problems, gastric ulcers, ketosis, and may be unable to perform simple daily activities. Extreme cases of dehydration generally require hospitalization in order to conduct intravenous feeding to stabilize the body’s fluids. Only about 3% of pregnancies experience problems this severe, but it could happen. If it does, immediate medical intervention is critical.
When diarrhea occurs during the third trimester, obstetricians don’t exhibit the same level of concern as they would in the first trimester. Diarrhea occurring in the third trimester is commonly attributed to changes in the levels of various hormones in preparation for the imminent delivery.
Diarrhea that occurs in the first trimester is thought to be caused by outside causes. The body’s operation is altered by food poisoning, changes in diet, or even a change or introduction of different vitamin and mineral supplements. Dietary changes like eating more soups instead of solids, or starting on a new exercise regimen are also known to have caused diarrhea.
The expectant mother must keep herself well hydrated by drinking enough fluids regularly. Supplementing water with sports drinks often ensures the proper balance of electrolytes. Good hydration is critical. Dehydration can cause serious problems for both mother and baby.
When the bouts of diarrhea are mild, the problem can often be alleviated by eating a bland diet. Yogurt, potatoes,
bananas, wheat toast, and honey are great. Avoid eating spicy foods, greasy foods, or foods that are high in fat. There are over-the-counter medicines that can help, but never self-prescribe. Check with your physician.
For most mothers, diarrhea may be a problem that they experience a couple of times just before the baby is born. These events are usually mild. If you experience chronic diarrhea, however, you should speak with your physician. An occasional day of diarrhea is no cause for panic. If it only lasts one day, nothing needs to be changed. If an episode of diarrhea lasts for more than 48 hours, however, it could indicate a serious problem and you should contact your doctor immediately to avoid the dangers of dehydration.