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Can Breastfeeding Cause Diarrhea in Mom?

Typically, diarrhea and breastfeeding aren’t connected. However, breastfeeding mamas will tell you differently.

There are quite a few stories about how women have more intestinal discomfort after breastfeeding. It seems like there has to be a link. That’s because there is. Breastfeeding can, in fact, cause diarrhea

How Does Breastfeeding Cause Diarrhea?

When you breastfeed your body releases a hormone called oxytocin. Most of us have heard of this hormone before. It’s also called the love hormone. 

Oxytocin is what makes breastfeeding so relaxing. It helps you form a deep emotional connection with your baby that mothers are known for. This hormone can also make you feel happier. 

On the downside, oxytocin can also cause quite a bit of discomfort. According to research, oxytocin can stimulate gastric emptying in your body. That’s a polite way of saying diarrhea. 

According to new studies, when people are stressed it might take longer for your gut to empty. However, the release of oxytocin still has the same effect. 

Can You Stop The Diarrhea Caused By Breastfeeding?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop the release of oxytocin. It will happen when you breastfeed or pump, and you will have the natural aftermath of that.

However, there are a few things you can do to lessen the chance of having to run to the bathroom in the middle of a breastfeeding session. 

Up Your Fiber Intake

Fiber is known for making you go to the bathroom, but that is because it promotes gut health. Fiber can also help you form stools, which means there is less chance of diarrhea. Make sure that you’re eating soluble fiber, though. 

Check Out Your Diet

What have you been eating lately? While breastfeeding might cause diarrhea, your diet can make the situation worse. Blended fruits and vegetables without a lot of solids can instantly result in looser stools. 

It’s natural that we want to eat more fruits and vegetables to stay as healthy as possible. Remember that too much of anything is a bad thing.

You want to make sure that you have more bulk in your diet as well. Eat some bread or items out of the grain food group, such as cereal. Toast or crackers are a great idea. 

Cut Back On Stimulants

Doctors say that it’s okay to consume a little bit of caffeine both while pregnant and breastfeeding. The combination of that morning cup of coffee and your morning breastfeeding session could be behind your bouts of diarrhea.

Cut back on stimulants to make sure that you’re not accidentally making the problem worse. 

Other Things May Be Causing Your Diarrhea

It’s important to note that breastfeeding might not be causing your diarrhea. It could be something that you ate, bacteria, or even a virus. Consider these things to determine if breastfeeding is causing your diarrhea. 

When Do You Get Diarrhea?

An upset stomach caused by breastfeeding will happen soon after breastfeeding or pumping. If you’re stressed, it might take a moment after the release of oxytocin to feel the effects, but it should still happen soon after you’re done breastfeeding. 

If breastfeeding is not behind your bowel movement troubles, it can and will happen anytime. For example, as soon as you eat you might have to run to the bathroom. You’ll have diarrhea before breastfeeding as well, which means that it’s not due to the oxytocin being released. 

How Long Have You Had Diarrhea?

If diarrhea is due to breastfeeding alone, you’ll have it as long as you’re breastfeeding. That means that if a severe bout of the runs popped up yesterday, and you’ve been breastfeeding for six months, it’s more than likely not caused by the oxytocin. 

Is There A Chance It Could Be Something Else?

It’s common for a virus to come and only give you diarrhea. Food poisoning is another common culprit that will only give you digestive issues. If you and your partner eat out a lot, consider asking them how they’ve been feeling.

Maybe they have diarrhea but it’s a gross topic that people don’t like to discuss so they haven’t mentioned it. Try asking them how their stomach is feeling. 

How To Treat Diarrhea While Breastfeeding

If you have diarrhea, there isn’t a lot that you can do to get rid of it. When your diarrhea is definitely caused by the release of oxytocin, you might be stuck with it while you’re breastfeeding. There are some things that you can do though. 

Continue To Eat Foods That Add Bulk

While eating some toast isn’t going to cure your diarrhea, it can help make it less severe. Start your morning off with some eggs and toast. Eat crackers throughout the day. Include soluble fiber in your diet to promote gut health. 

Use Immodium In Moderation (If It’s Okay With Your Doctor)

When you don’t have a choice, pick up some Immodium if it’s okay with your doctor. It’s stated that a minimal amount reaches the breastmilk, so you should be safe.

However, it’s always best to call your doctor to double-check before taking any medication, including over-the-counter medication. 

Drink Plenty Of Fluids

One of the primary dangers of diarrhea is that it can cause dehydration. Your body loses a lot of fluids during those trips to the bathroom. Make sure that you drink plenty of water. Pedialyte is also great for you when you are fighting dehydration. 

Consider An Elimination Diet

There are certain foods that are more likely to cause diarrhea. For example, milk and spicy foods. Try eliminating common triggers for diarrhea one at a time to see if that helps. Common triggers are:

  • Gassy foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Caffeine
  • Cow’s milk
  • Chocolate

If you eat a lot of these foods, it might be making the problem worse. 

In Conclusion

Having diarrhea due to breastfeeding is surprisingly common. First, make sure that your diarrhea is due to breastfeeding. Then, make sure that you stay hydrated.

Talk to your doctor about using an over-the-counter product for temporary relief. Finally, tweak your diet to help lessen the side effects of breastfeeding to help the situation.