Diarrhea After C-Section 101: Facts You Need to Know

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Cropped image of woman sitting on toilet and roll of toilet paper.

It’s amazing what pregnancy does to you. The pain. The constipation. The cravings. Did I mention the pain? Oh, and there’s that little bundle of joy growing inside you, too.

But after you go through a C-section, you expect all of those little pregnancy gems to stop. It’s time to get things back to normal, right? Not so fast. Your body needs time to recover.

And after a procedure like a Cesarian section, your digestive system may take you on a wild ride. For some new moms, that wild ride is a serious case of the runs. Yes, I’m talking about diarrhea.

[Read more about Diarrhea]

Is Diarrhea Normal After a C-Section?

Yes, but diarrhea isn’t as common as constipation. Fecal incontinence (to get technical) is a common side effect of a C-section, but 38% of women will experience the complete opposite effect.

While embarrasing, it’s important to remember that it’s probably normal. Still, you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it. Treatment is simple in most cases.Closeup view of biofilm of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

What Causes Diarrhea After a Cesarean Section?

Just as there are many causes of constipation after a C-section, there are many causes of diarrhea after this method of birth. Some of the most common causes include:

Antibiotics

Women are given antibiotics before and after pregnancy in some cases, and they’ll always receive them if they have a C section. The role of antibiotics is to help stop the start or existing infection in the body. No one wants to deal with an infection right after delivery.

But what your doctor failed to tell you is that antibiotics can cause diarrhea.

Antibiotics will disrupt the natural balance of good and bad bacteria in the body. This balance is meant to keep your gut healthy, but the antibiotics don’t care about that at all. No way, their only goal is to ensure that you don’t get an infection.

And the antibiotics work well.

Antibiotics will also cause:

  • Toxins to damage the inside walls of your bowels
  • Inflammation

The funny part of it all – if anything is funny about diarrhea after a c section – is that the doctor will prescribe you even more antibiotics to alleviate the problem.

If you’re one of the unlucky few, you’ll spend more time in the bathroom for the first few days after surgery than you do with your growing child. Don’t worry though, the issue will resolve on its own allowing you to find some relief.

[Read more about Antibiotics]

Sickness

There’s always a risk that you’ve contracted a stomach bug or some other sickness when you were at the hospital. And if this happens, you may have diarrhea depending on the illness.

How Long Will Diarrhea Last After a C-Section?

This is a great question, but it’s not simple and easy to answer by any means. Some women will only  have diarrhea for a few days, and then they go back to their normal cycle where their bowel movements are back to normal – yay.Cropped image of woman sitting on toilet and roll of toilet paper.

But then there are other women that have diarrhea for 2 weeks.

And there are women that get stuck in the diarrhea cycle and can’t seem to get out of it. The main concern is the amount of antibiotics a person has taken and the damage that the drugs have done to a person’s stomach.

I have seen women complain of suffering from diarrhea for months.

There is likely an underlying issue that is causing the problem, but this doesn’t mean that the c section didn’t cause a minor issue to turn into a major concern.

Treatment for Diarrhea

Treatment for diarrhea is straightforward and easy to find. Your doctor will likely ask you to wait  a few days to see if the problem resolves on its own. In the event that the problem doesn’t resolve, your doctor may run a series of tests to determine what the underlying cause of your diarrhea is.

A few options to stop the diarrhea are:

  1. Bulk-forming Laxative: A bulk-forming laxative is designed to help improve the consistency of your bowel movements. The laxative will work to bind the stool and delay going to the bathroom unlike other forms of laxatives that promote a bowel movement.
  2. Thickening Mixtures: A thickening mixture will work to absorb the water in the stool to make it The mixture will often include psyllium.
  3. Probiotics: A great, over-the-counter product, probiotics work to restore the good bacteria in the gut and may be recommended if you have diarrhea due to antibiotic usage.

White medicine capsules probiotic powder inside, one capsule open.Since you’ve given birth, you’ll want to consult with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter solutions that may conflict with breastfeeding or the body’s natural healing process. Always consult with a doctor if you’re on medication already or if you have any side effects.

Nursing women must always proceed with caution before taking any form of medication or a supplement that may cause feeding problems.

When to Call a Doctor

In most cases, women won’t call their doctor for a simple bout of diarrhea that goes away quickly. You will want to call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Black or bloody stool
  • Fever
  • 10+ stools in 24 hours

You will also be at a very high risk of dehydration. The watery stool will drain the body of its natural fluids often causing you to feel faint or even sick. If you suffer from diarrhea and are also nursing, the problem can be even more severe.

Nursing will drain the body from fluids, too.

Blood in the stool or black stool is a sign of internal bleeding, and a visit to the doctor and a complete exam is highly recommended.

Any bout of diarrhea should also include massive fluid intake in an attempt to remain hydrated. If you fail to remain hydrated, this may result in hospitalization and a need to have IV fluids to replenish your body’s water.

The good news is that diarrhea, barring any other serious medical conditions, will go away on its own. A c-section is a very serious surgery, so the diarrhea may be a result of the body adapting after the surgery, but it’s primarily caused by the antibiotics that kill good and bad bacteria in the gut.

[Read more about C-Section]

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