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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, they 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 how it occurs and what it means.
What Does A Healthy Pregnancy Poop Look Like?
Generally, poop during your pregnancy wouldn’t look any different from when you weren’t pregnant. The changes you notice is brought about by the 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. The bile juice is greenish-yellow in colour and helps in breaking down fats in the food. As it moves through your intestine, enzymes and bacteria react with it and eventually change its colour to brown.
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 to not 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 and cholesterol, protein, dead bacteria and intestinal mucus. Pregnancy can alter your digestive process and change the colour of your stool. Therefore, it’s quite normal for pregnant women to have green stool. As a matter of fact, it is a relatively common complaint among pregnant women. Although debatable, some even consider green poop as an early sign of pregnancy due to the hormonal changes involved.
Causes of Green Poop during Pregnancy?
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 the darker brown. One reason why your poop could be green is that it has passed through the digestive tract too quickly before the bile can be broken down properly. There are several factors which cause this:
Health Issues or Diseases
These are the disease that can cause green poop:
1. Cellac 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 immune reactions. It inflames the small intestines lining which inhibits absorption of certain nutrients and lead 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 and severe ones 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 difficile to outgrow them throwing off the balance.
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
5. 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 causing abdominal cramps and affects digestion. Patients suffering from this also have a high risk of developing colon cancer.
6. Intestinal Cancer
The cancerous growth in the intestine affects the bowel movement by blocking or restricting its flow. This can greatly affect digestion.
7. 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.
8. Salmonella Food Poisoning
Salmonella is a bacterium that can be contracted by eating contaminated food. It is mostly spread by contaminated undercooked meat from poultry.
E.coli is a commonly found bacterium that’s related to food poisoning and spreads through the ingestion of contaminated food and water. Undercooked meat is also a major cause for the spread of the bacterium.
10. Viral Gastroenteritis
Viral gastroenteritis is commonly called as the stomach flu which spreads through contaminated food, water or sharing utensils or towels with the person who is infected.
Excluding hormonal changes and diseases, there are few other factors that can lead to a green coloured poop.
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, the colour would change back to normal once the antibiotics course is stopped.
If you are on laxatives, it speeds up the movement of food in your intestines which can result in green poop. Slower transit time cannot fully breakdown the bile juice which turns your poop green.
How to Deal with it?
Generally, there’s no need to worry about green stool in your pregnancy, thousands of women experience it everywhere. It could 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 your 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 can if the pills are causing the colour on consultation with your doctor. If you are on medication for an infection, bring it to your doctor’s notice so he may lower the dosage or change it.
As far as health issues go, avoiding 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 sanitizer when you are out. Eat on time and eat a balanced food to keep your digestive system functioning well.
When to Call a Doctor?
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 a green stool could indicate serious health problems.
- Seek medical help if you notice blood or green mucus in stool.
- Diarrhea and watery stool that lasts for a few days with cramping and abdominal pain
- When physical symptoms such as rectal pain, fever, loss of appetite show up along with green stool
- Intermittent bouts of constipation
Green stools in pregnancy are common and are not a cause for concern most of the times.