Green Stool During Pregnancy – Is It Normal?
Every article that we publish, confirms to stringent guidelines & involves several levels of reviews, both from our Editorial team & Experts. We welcome your suggestions in making this platform more useful for all our users. Write in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pregnancy brings about changes in the body, some that you are aware of and some that take you by surprise. Your stool is normally light brown, and depending on what you ate the previous day, it can vary a few shades. Some women, however, experience green poop, which can be concerning, especially during their first pregnancy. Read further to know more about green stool during pregnancy, how it occurs and what it means.
What Does Healthy Pregnancy Poop Look Like?
Generally, poop during your pregnancy wouldn’t look any different than when you weren’t pregnant. The changes you notice are brought about by hormonal fluctuations and dietary changes you make during pregnancy. Normal poop is brown because there is a digestive juice in it called bile, which is produced by the liver. Bile juice is greenish-yellow in colour and helps in breaking down fats in food. As it moves through your intestine, enzymes and bacteria react with it and eventually change its colour to brown. Even simple diarrhoea can cause discolouration in the stools.
A range of colours is considered normal for poop, starting from light yellow to dark brown or black. Dark green stool during pregnancy is considered normal unless accompanied by other symptoms. A good way to assess healthy poop is that it should be soft enough not to hurt when you go and cohesive enough to stay intact in the toilet.
Is It Normal to Have Green Stool During Pregnancy?
Your stool is composed of a number of things, such as water, indigestible food like fibre, fat, cholesterol, protein, dead bacteria, and intestinal mucus. You also poop some of what you eat, so it is normal to have a different coloured poop than usual. Therefore, it’s quite normal for pregnant women to have green stools. As a matter of fact, it is a relatively common complaint among pregnant women.
The usual brown poop colour is due to bacterial action on your bile juice. Normal bowel movement gives the microbes enough time to convert the bright yellow-green bile juice to a darker brown. One reason why your poop could be green is that it has passed through the digestive tract too quickly before the bile could be broken down properly. There are several factors that cause this:
1. Your Diet
What you eat influences the colour of your poop. You may have noticed that a day after consuming beetroot. Many pregnant women eat plenty of greens in the form of broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and spinach for all the essential nutrients they need. This over-intake of chlorophyll (the pigment in leaves that makes them green) can turn their poop green. Therefore, limiting greens can fix the issue.
2. Irregular Colonic Transit Time
This refers to how long the food you eat stays in the large intestine before it goes out of the body. Short transit times lead to green poop, as the green bile moves quickly through the colon, along with undigested food.
3. Prenatal Vitamins
Sometimes, even a healthy diet cannot offer you all the nutrients you need in the right quantities, and in those circumstances, your doctor prescribes you prenatal vitamins for an extra boost. Some of the minerals, such as iron, present in the vitamins can turn the poop green, as the body sometimes fails to absorb it or cannot absorb all of it.
Certain medications, such as antibiotics given during an infection, can sometimes turn your poop green. What you need to remember is that the change is temporary, and the colour will eventually return to normal once the antibiotics course is stopped.
If you are on laxatives, they speed up the movement of food in your intestines, which can result in green poop. Slower transit time cannot fully break down the bile juice, which turns your poop green.
6. Hormonal Changes
Several hormones released during pregnancy can be the reason for faster digestion. Besides bloating and constipation, this can also cause green stools as the body does not get enough time to make poop properly. Thus, when it is not broken down by the friendly bacteria (which turn the poop brown), the stools come out in a greenish shade,
Excluding general causes and hormonal changes, there are a few health factors that can lead to green-coloured poop. Here are some of the diseases that can cause green poop:
7. Infections or Diseases That Cause Green Poop
1. Celiac Disease
It is an autoimmune disorder that occurs genetically, where the ingestion of a protein called gluten, present in grains such as barley, wheat and rye, can cause immunological reactions. It causes inflammation in the small intestinal lining, which inhibits absorption of certain nutrients and leads to complications.
This is a parasitic infection of the intestine that can be contracted by ingesting contaminated food or water. It clears out on its own in most cases, whereas severe cases need to be treated with antibiotics.
3. Pseudomembranous Colitis
This is an inflammatory disease of your colon due to the overgrowth of a certain type of bacteria. It’s often a result of antibiotics causing a disruption of the healthy bacteria in the colon. This leads the bacteria C. diff to outgrow them, throwing them off balance.
4. Cholestasis of Pregnancy
Cholestasis of pregnancy is the commonest abnormal cause of green stools. It is a liver condition that occurs when bile acids build up in a person’s blood and is characterized by extreme itching, especially on the hands and feet. Cholestasis of pregnancy usually happens late in the second trimester or during the last trimester of pregnancy.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
6. Ulcerative Colitis
It is a bowel disease that affects the innermost lining of the colon and rectum. It causes ulcers and inflammation in the digestive tract leading to abdominal cramps and indigestion. Patients suffering from this also have a high risk of developing colon cancer.
7. Intestinal Cancer
The cancerous growth in the intestine affects bowel movement by blocking or restricting its flow. This can greatly affect digestion.
8. Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease affects parts of the intestine and colon and can sometimes be life-threatening. It cannot be cured, but medications are used to slow down the progression of the disease.
9. Salmonella Food Poisoning
Salmonella is a bacterial infection that can be contracted by eating contaminated food. It is mostly spread by contaminated, undercooked poultry.
10. E. Coli
11. Viral Gastroenteritis
Viral gastroenteritis, commonly called stomach flu, spreads through contaminated food, water or by sharing utensils or towels with a person who is infected.
How to Deal With It?
Generally, there’s no need to worry about green stool during pregnancy. Thousands of women experience it everywhere. It could be a bit unnerving if you’re a first-time mother, therefore, talking to your doctor and ruling out any serious condition is the first step to take the edge off. If green stool still bothers you and you’re certain it is caused by your diet, make changes to it and eliminate foods that may contain dyes, such as green or purple. Switch to a prenatal pill that has less iron if the pills are causing the colour change only after a consultation with your doctor. If you are on medication for an infection, bring it to your doctor’s notice, so the dosage can be lowered or changed.
As far as health issues go, avoiding contracting infections is not only good for the colour of your poop but also your health in general. Wash and cook all foods thoroughly, especially meat. Wash your hands often and use generous amounts of sanitiser when you are out. Eat on time and follow a balanced diet to keep your digestive system functioning well.
You can ignore the changes in the colour of your stool, now and then, if they are not accompanied by any other warning symptoms. Schedule an appointment if you’re experiencing green poop more often. You’ll be asked about changes you’ve made to your lifestyle and diet after you got pregnant. Such information can reveal the underlying causes of a colour change. There are rare cases where green stool could indicate serious health problems, and you should contact your doctor if you notice:
- Blood or green mucus in stool.
- Diarrhoea and watery stool that lasts for a few days, with cramping and abdominal pain.
- Physical symptoms such as rectal pain, fever, and loss of appetite, along with green stool
- Intermittent bouts of constipation
FAQs About Green Stool During Pregnancy
1. Do Green Stools Indicate Pregnancy?
Fluctuation in hormones caused by pregnancy may cause discharge that is green-yellow in colour, often mistaken for green, watery stools. Make sure to visit a doctor if you notice this happening, as it could indicate you are pregnant or even just help in diagnosing an infection in its early stages.
2. Should I Be Concerned About Green Stool?
If you are sure of the cause of green stool is nothing but certain foods or supplements, it shouldn’t worry you. However, if you notice other symptoms, like cramping, bleeding, signs of an infection, such as fever, shivering, etc., consult a doctor.
3. What Should My Poop Ideally Look Like During Pregnancy?
Poop, when you are pregnant, should ideally be the same as poop when you are not pregnant. However, it is advised to stay vigilant and notice any symptoms that are out of the blue, such as unexplained green stool, abdominal pain, etc.
Green stools in pregnancy are common and not a cause for concern most of the time, so take a deep breath and consult your doctor to rule out or diagnose any serious issues.
1. Mayo Clinic Staff; Cholestasis of pregnancy; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cholestasis-of-pregnancy/symptoms-causes/syc-20363257#:~:text=Intrahepatic%20cholestasis%20of%20pregnancy%2C%20commonly,other%20parts%20of%20the%20body.
2. Tina Comston; Why is my poop green; BuckMD Blog; The Ohio State University; https://u.osu.edu/buckmdblog/2010/05/18/why-is-my-poop-green/; May 2010
3. Stool color: When to worry; Mayo Clinic; https://www.mayoclinic.org/stool-color/expert-answers/faq-20058080; October 2022
4. !Comprehensive Stool Analysis; Semantic Scholar; https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/%21Comprehensive-Stool-Analysis/7fc251e51ec7c880b8e3999dec2055a9780a9d64?p2df; 2010
5. LaFee; End Results: What color is your poop and other pressing fecal matters; UC San Diego Health; https://health.ucsd.edu/news/features/Pages/2018-05-11-listicle-what-color-is-your-poop.aspx; May 2018
6. Anemia in Pregnancy; University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester; https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P02428
7. Anemia in Pregnancy; Stanford Medicine Children’s Health; https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=anemia-in-pregnancy-90-P02428
8. Cholestasis of Pregnancy; University of Rochester Medical Center; https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P02440
9. Celiac disease; Harvard Health Publishing; https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/celiac-disease; August 2021