Help, my pregnancy poop is green!

Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy - even your poop changes colour! Here’s why and what else to expect.

Believe it or not, it’s quite normal for your poop to change shape, colour and consistency throughout your pregnancy, says Sister Angie Manyuha, a midwife with The Birthing Team at Netcare Femina Hospital in Pretoria. However, you might still get a shock to see green poop when you go for a “number 2”.

Here’s why your pregnancy poop could be green, as well as what to expect.

Poop changes in pregnancy

According to the Women and Children’s Health Network, changes in bowel movements are common during pregnancy and birth. Hormonal changes, such as a surge in progesterone, can alter the digestion process, causing constipation.

Diarrhoea during pregnancy is often linked to changes in diet, a more sensitive stomach, or (if you’re in the third trimester) a sign that labour is near.

If you’re experiencing constipation, it’s important to increase your fibre and water intake, says Angie. Fruits such as mangoes and oranges contain plenty of natural fibre and will help to get your bowels working to alleviate the symptoms. It’s also important to consult your doctor or midwife and avoid self-medicating with over-the-counter remedies such as laxatives, advises Angie.

ALSO SEE: 5 things you should know about your first postpartum poop

But what about colour changes in pregnancy? What’s normal and when should you worry? Sister Angie explains…

What’s with the change in poop colour?

Laxatives

Laxatives can cause changes in the colour of your stool because it doesn’t have time to change from yellow/light green to brown if it moves through the intestines too fast. This is why laxatives should be avoided in pregnancy unless it’s been safely prescribed by your doctor.

Cholestasis

In some rare cases, some pregnant women suffer from cholestasis. “This is a condition where the flow of bile from your gallbladder stops or slows down. As a result, your poop could become a very light brown/greenish colour and you may also experience itchy skin, dark urine and a yellow tinge to your skin and eyes,” says Angie. This is a condition that needs immediate medical attention.

Your prenatal vitamins and supplements

Sometimes, the vitamins and supplements (containing certain herbs) you’re advised to take during pregnancy can change the colour of your poop, says Angie. For example, iron tablets and antacids will change the colour of your poop to black. Certain foods like beetroot will make your poop red, and if you’re experiencing haemorrhoids, (which is quite common in pregnancy), your poop might be speckled with blood, which will make it a ‘reddish’ colour.

The food you eat

Additionally, iron supplements and some vitamins can turn your poop green. And if you’re focusing on ‘getting in those greens’ such as broccoli, spinach, microgreens, watercress, cabbage or kale, expect to see your poop change from brown to green.

When should you be concerned?

If your poop is black in colour and smells bad, you should consult your doctor, says Angie. It’s also important to take note of how you feel throughout your pregnancy, especially when eating and using the toilet. If the changes in the colour of your poop are accompanied by the following, see your doctor immediately:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

Infections

Additionally, green poop can be a sign of a parasite, virus or bacterial infection, which should be taken seriously. Research also shows that certain bacteria like Salmonella (the common culprit behind most food poisoning), the water parasite giardia, and a group of viruses known as norovirus can cause your bowels to flush quicker than normal, which can lead to green poop. Chances are if you’re experiencing these symptoms, you’ll be feeling quite ill and will need to see your doctor immediately.

More about the expert:

Sister Angie Manyuha is a midwife for The Birthing Team at Netcare Femina Hospital in Pretoria. The Birthing Team is an affordable maternity programme operational in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Polokwane. The programme is restructuring how South African midwives and obstetricians interact. It applies an integrated care model to maternity care, which emphasises collaboration, team fees, rigorous prenatal care and a community-based approach. Learn more about The Birthing Team here.

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