Pregnancy induces many changes in the functioning of most organs in the female body. The digestive system is no exception and is the most affected system as the pregnancy progresses, which can result in several issues like constipation and some other uncomfortable symptoms. Passing black or dark stool is one among them.
Dark stool during pregnancy

  • Dark Stool During Pregnancy
  • What Are The Causes Of Dark Stool During Pregnancy?
  • How Can I Avoid The Dark Stool During Pregnancy?
  • How Is Dark Stool During Pregnancy Diagnosed?
  • What Should Do When I Notice Dark Stool During Pregnancy?

Dark Stool During Pregnancy

Passing dark stool in the course of pregnancy is a common occurrence. Depending on the cause, it can appear blackish, greenish, or even dark red. Dark stool can happen with or without constipation. As in the case of all issues that arise in the course of pregnancy, even if sounds harmless, finding out the causes and undergoing treatment is important in case of passing dark stools too.

What Are The Causes Of Dark Stool During Pregnancy?

Some of the reasons that trigger the passing of dark stool are:

  1. Iron supplement: It’s a common practice of giving iron dietary supplements to the expecting moms, owing to the fact that iron is required to generate new blood cells and transport enough oxygen for both mother and child. This is exceptionally significant as the blood volume increases up to 50% in the course of pregnancy and pregnant women are more prone to anemia. Iron is the essential substance of the blood that holds oxygen. Keeping up an adequate iron level in blood is critical for guaranteeing enough oxygen supply for the child, which is essential for its advancement. Sometimes mother’s body cannot easily assimilate and utilize some particular kind of iron supplement, for example: ferrous sulfate and ferrous gluconate. In such cases, the unabsorbed iron gives the stool dark color
  2. Food: Intake of certain foods during pregnancy is also found to result in the dark stool. Blueberries and licorice are specifically known to give stool a dark color. Artificial food colors which are used while preparing certain food items can likewise influence the stool color. By maintaining a food journal every time the stool appear dark, you can slowly get an idea of which food is influencing the color of the stool
  3. Medicines: Some medicines other than the iron supplements can also result in dark stool during pregnancy. One of such most commonly used over the counter medicine used by pregnant women is Pepto-Bismol, which is prescribed to deal with the stomach upset
  4. Health issues: You are more inclined to digestive sicknesses like constipation, hemorrhoids, anal tears and fissures (which might turn big causing small tears on the rectum) over the span of pregnancy as a result of increased pressure in the pelvic area. This will increase the odds of blood blending with the stool, bringing about the dark stool
  5. Bleeding: Bleeding that happens within the digestive system, especially, in the upper gastrointestinal tract (GI) like the intestines, stomach, or esophagus can cause a change in the color of the stool during pregnancy. The stool will appear very dark instead of bloody by the time it is passed out of the body. The dark color is an aftereffect of the blood being blended with the digestive juices

Woman sitting in bathroom

How Can I Avoid The Dark Stool During Pregnancy?

  1. Eat iron-rich food: If the dark stool is associated with the intake of iron supplements, you can increase iron intake in your daily diet by eating iron-rich food including liver, dry fruits, red meat, iron-fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, etc. to meet the extra demand of the iron. The iron in the food can be easily assimilated by the body, you can avoid the dark stool
  2. Avoid over the counter medicines: It is always better to avoid over the counter medicines in the course of pregnancy. By any chance, any unusual signs are observed like change in the color of the stool after taking a medicine, immediately bring it to the attention of your doctor
  3. Take measures to avoid constipation: Increase the intake of fluid in the course of pregnancy. Also, include fruits and vegetable that are rich in fiber in your daily menu. Do mild exercises, including Kegel exercises (only after consulting with the doctor) for better muscle functions around the rectum and vagina. All these will help to regulate the bowel movements, decreasing the chances of constipation, associated ailments and bleeding
  4. Following a healthy lifestyle: Follow a healthy life style by avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol will decrease the chances of the irritation of the inner inning of the esophagus and intestine (irritation, usually increase the chances of bleeding)
  5. Drinking plenty of water: Increase your intake of water every day to at least 10-12 glasses and also inclusion of fresh fruit juices and other health drinks in your daily diet will make your stool softer

How Is Dark Stool During Pregnancy Diagnosed?

To diagnose the condition, the doctor will further study your medical history, dietary changes and the complete list of medications you consume. The doctor will send the stool for further examination in the lab to rule out the possibilities of internal bleeding. If the presence of blood is confirmed, the doctor will take additional tests to find out the cause and the treatment will be planned accordingly. If there is no blood, then he will consider changing the dosage or type of iron supplement that you are taking.

What Should Do When I Notice Dark Stool During Pregnancy?

Whenever you notice dark stool in the course of pregnancy, inform your doctor. Though mostly it is not a matter of worry, but still it must be attended to, as it can be an indication of an underlying issue. Along with dark stool, if you experience the symptoms of abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea or fever seek medical assistance immediately