Fun fact: The weird changes to your body don’t end after you’ve given birth. If anything, the ride has just begun. The postpartum period is packed with all kinds of bodily adjustments, from swollen ankles to sore muscles and everything in between. But perhaps the worst is the rare case of postpartum diarrhea. Rare because, as Dr. Nisha Verma, an OB/GYN and abortion care provider, tells Romper, it’s one of the least reported side effects post-delivery. Good news for those who don’t experience it. Bad news for the unlucky few.
What Is Postpartum Diarrhea?
Just like diarrhea at any period of one’s life, it’s a disorder of the bowels where stool becomes loose or watery. It’s also often accompanied by painful cramps and/or gas.
That said, the reasons you may experience postpartum diarrhea might have less to do with having just giving birth and more with what you were exposed to, says Dr. Verma.
Causes of Postpartum Diarrhea
“Being in the hospital for labor and delivery you might be exposed to something like viral gastritis, a stomach bug,” says Dr. Verma. Medication can also wreak havoc on a tender tummy so keep that in mind too.
“Hormone adjustments can also play a role,” says Desirae Whittle, a doula with Harmony Births. Or, and this is perhaps the worst case scenario, diarrhea might even be self-induced.
Because of the high prevalence of constipation post-delivery, Dr. Verma says most hospitals send patients home with stool softeners. Naturally, those will cause some diarrhea if you take too many. Also, people should keep in mind what they’re eating as well. Food sensitivities should not be ruled out either.
Treatments for Postpartum Diarrhea
For the most part, you’re going to want to treat postpartum diarrhea as you would before your pregnancy. Eat a bland diet, drink plenty of water, and take the same over the counter treatments you might have before.
When Should Postpartum Diarrhea Be Considered A Concern
If all of the above aren’t working and your symptoms continue to be acute, it’s time to call your provider, says Whittle.
Be on the lookout for escalating symptoms as well. “Severe diarrhea, like you’re having to use the bathroom pretty consistently, feeling nauseous, or finding blood in the stool are signs you need to see a doctor,” says Dr. Verma.
As with everything pregnancy related, don’t be embarrassed, instead get the help you need by reaching out to a medical professional for help.
Dr. Nisha Verma, an ob-gyn and abortion care provider and Darney-Landy ACOG fellow
Desirae Whittle, doula with Harmony Births