Diarrhea is one of the signs labor is getting close. Some women experience loose bowels days before, while others experience the same just hours before labor starts. It is a way your body is beginning to prepare itself by ensuring there’s nothing in the way of your baby descending into the birth canal by releasing the hormones called prostaglandins that dilate the cervix in response to uterine contractions. Loose bowel movements can happen 24-48 hours before active labor commences.
Predicting the onset of labor is notoriously difficult, not only because every woman is different but also because every pregnancy and delivery is different.
But then, there are some common telltale signs of labor that remain the same for all women.
One sign that indicates that soon your baby will be on the way to meet you is loose bowel, also known as pre-labor diarrhea.
So how long after your time on the toilet will your contractions begin? And should you throw your hospital bag in the car every time you experience loose bowels?
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How soon after a loose bowel does labor start?
Loose bowel is a well-known sign of labor.
This is because as your body prepares to go into labor, it will start to produce more prostaglandins which help with regulating contractions and the relaxation of the gut muscles. This is great for clearing your bowels and getting labor started.
The loose bowel pregnancy sign is one that you can count on happening roughly 24-48 hours before labor begins. So if it has happened to you and you are at the end of your pregnancy, then you can do a happy dance! Your little one is on the way.
Labor will begin within one or two days after the loose bowel experience.
It may be accompanied by any of the following symptoms, which means you may probably be going into labor within the next day or two:
- Change of vaginal discharge
- Leveling off or sudden weight loss
- Water breaking
- A bloody show
- Cervix dilates
- Low back pain
- Warm cramp-like sensation in your abdomen similar to menstrual cramps
What causes pre-labor diarrhea?
Pre-labor diarrhea is nature’s way of preparing to give room needed for birthing. It is an entirely natural part of pregnancy, and although unpleasant, it’s a positive indication of things moving in the right direction.
Loose bowel may or may not happen together with flu-like symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, but the timing is crucial as they often precede labor by a 48-hour window. And that’s why it’s referred to as pre-labor diarrhea.
The prostaglandins released by the body in the run-up to the start of labor stimulate the uterine contractions and dilate and soften the cervix and knock part of the digestive system into overdrive, leading to changes in bowel movements.
It shouldn’t worry you. It’s thought to be a body’s way of cleansing itself in preparation for the baby’s arrival and a means to free up space for the journey to the outside world.
What to do if you experience loose bowel before labor
Here’s what to do if you experience diarrhea in the last leg of your pregnancy and before the impending labor.
- Stay hydrated – Water is your best buddy right now. Dehydration can raise false labor alarms. So, it is important to keep drinking water and also electrolyte solutions until the time of your labor.
- Small but frequent meals – Eating small but frequent meals will keep providing nutrition to your body and to maintain your strength. Try to take semi-solids or liquid foods like chicken broth and avoid high-fiber foods, dairy, spicy foods that might irritate your digestive tract, and anything acidic like orange juices.
- Avoid taking anti-diarrhea medication – It may affect the labor process and the birthing of the baby.
- Stay near the bathroom – Since you’ll be making quite a few trips in and out before your baby arrives.
What time of the day does labor start?
Labor usually starts when our bodies relax and the adrenaline levels are at their lowest.
Oxytocin levels can rise, and together with melatonin, work together to promote effective contractions. All this happens during the night when you’re relaxed and unstressed.
Can labor start and stop over days?
It is not very common, though it does happen. The only thing that can stop labor is a sudden decrease in the flow of the leading oxytocin hormone during labor due to the effects of rising adrenaline levels.
The body understands this as a “fight or flight” condition, and labor is stalled until the mother is safe and relaxed. Then labor can start again.
Does pushing too hard to poop cause labor?
We’ve all been there.
Completely stocked up and constipated during pregnancy and praying for poop to happen but at the same time wondering just how hard can I strain without making myself go into labor?
Don’t worry. Straining in the toilet will only lead you to develop hemorrhoids, swollen veins in your rectum and anus, but it will certainly not signal labor to start, nor will it hurt your baby.
You can’t predict exactly when you’ll go into labor, but there are signs your contractions may be on their way soon. Women experience pre-labor differently. Some women will have strong signs labor is starting, and others will only experience a loose bowel.
Loose bowel is a common and normal part of the pre-labor process, so just go with the flow. Labor is hard work. It is important to relax when you recognize that it is starting.
By relaxing your muscles, you’ll have an easier and more comfortable labor.
Just remember that if you’re having loose bowels close to your due date, it may mean that your big day is almost here. So take heart in knowing that this is just another short-lived symptom as well as a sign that you’ll be meeting your bundle of joy soon.