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Black Stool in Pregnancy? Know the Causes and Prevention

Home - Health & Fitness - Black Stool in Pregnancy? Know the Causes and Prevention

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Pregnancy is a time of immense change for your body, and with these changes come various symptoms that can sometimes be alarming. One such symptom that can cause concern is black stool. While it may be unsettling to notice a change in your stool color, it’s important to understand the potential causes and what you can do to address them. In this article, we will explore why black stool may occur during pregnancy, the underlying causes, and ways to prevent it.


What Is Black Stool?

Black stool, also known as melena, refers to the dark, tar-like appearance of your bowel movements. This color change can be due to various factors, including dietary changes, supplements, and more serious underlying conditions. Understanding what causes black stool is crucial in determining whether it’s a harmless side effect or requires medical attention.


Causes of Black Stool during Pregnancy

1-Iron Supplements

One of the most common reasons for black stool during pregnancy is the intake of iron supplements. Pregnant women often need additional iron to support their increased blood volume and the baby’s development. Iron supplements can cause the stool to appear dark or black, which is generally harmless but can be surprising if you’re not expecting it.

2-Dietary Changes

Changes in diet during pregnancy can also affect stool color. Consuming foods rich in iron, such as red meat, spinach, and fortified cereals, can lead to darker stools. Similarly, consuming dark-colored foods like blueberries or black licorice can temporarily change stool color.


Certain medications, including those containing bismuth (like Pepto-Bismol), can cause black stool. It’s important to read the labels of any over-the-counter medications you’re taking and consult your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

4-Gastrointestinal Bleeding

In some cases, black stool can indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach or small intestine. This bleeding can result from conditions like ulcers, gastritis, or esophageal varices. If gastrointestinal bleeding is the cause, the stool will have a tarry consistency and a distinct foul odor.


Pregnancy increases the risk of developing hemorrhoids, which can cause rectal bleeding. While hemorrhoid bleeding is typically bright red, if the blood is digested, it can appear black when it passes through the digestive system.

6-Peptic Ulcers

Peptic ulcers, or open sores on the lining of the stomach or small intestine, can cause internal bleeding. If the blood from an ulcer is digested, it can result in black, tarry stools. Pregnant women who have a history of ulcers should be particularly vigilant about this symptom.

7-Other Health Conditions

Other less common causes of black stool include liver disease, Crohn’s disease, and certain cancers. These conditions can lead to bleeding within the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in black stools.

Symptoms Accompanying Black Stool

When dealing with black stool during pregnancy, it’s essential to consider any accompanying symptoms that may indicate a more serious issue. These can include:


  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Vomiting blood or coffee-ground-like material
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness or fatigue

If you experience any of these symptoms along with black stool, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.


Diagnosing the Cause of Black Stool

1-Medical History and Physical Examination

Your healthcare provider will start by taking a detailed medical history and performing a physical examination. This will help identify any potential underlying conditions or contributing factors.

2-Stool Tests

Stool tests at AL-Noor Diagnostic Center and other well-reputed labs in the city can help determine the cause of black stool. A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) can detect hidden blood in the stool, indicating gastrointestinal bleeding. Other stool tests may be used to identify infections or other abnormalities.

3-Blood Tests

Blood tests from Al-Noor Diagnostic Center and other well-reputed labs in the city can provide information about your overall health and help identify any conditions that might be causing black stool. These tests can check for anemia, infection, and other markers of health.


An endoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine the inside of your digestive tract using a flexible tube with a camera. This can help identify sources of bleeding, such as ulcers or gastritis.

5-Imaging Studies

Imaging studies, such as an abdominal ultrasound or CT scan, can provide detailed images of your internal organs. These studies can help identify structural abnormalities or sources of bleeding.


Preventing Black Stool during Pregnancy

1-Monitor Iron Intake

If you’re taking iron supplements, be aware that they can cause dark stools. Discuss your dosage with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re getting the right amount without overloading your system. Eating iron-rich foods in moderation and balancing them with other nutrients can also help.

2-Maintain a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet can help prevent changes in stool color. Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your meals. Avoid excessive consumption of dark-colored foods that might alter stool color.

3-Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can help maintain regular bowel movements and prevent constipation, which can exacerbate hemorrhoids and other gastrointestinal issues. Aim for at least eight glasses of water daily, or more if your healthcare provider recommends.

4-Avoid Certain Medications

Some medications can cause black stool or contribute to gastrointestinal issues. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter medications or supplements during pregnancy.

5-Manage Stress

Stress can exacerbate gastrointestinal problems, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress during pregnancy. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal yoga.

When to See a Doctor

While black stool can be caused by relatively harmless factors, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider if you notice this symptom during pregnancy. They can help determine the cause and ensure that you and your baby remain healthy. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Persistent black stools without a clear cause


Black stool during pregnancy can be alarming, but understanding the potential causes and knowing when to seek medical help can provide peace of mind. Iron supplements, dietary changes, and certain medications are common culprits, but it’s essential to rule out more serious underlying conditions. By maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and consulting your healthcare provider regularly, you can help prevent and address black stool effectively. Always pay attention to your body’s signals and don’t hesitate to seek medical advice if you have concerns about your health during pregnancy.



1-Is black stool during pregnancy always a cause for concern?

Not always. Black stool can result from benign causes like iron supplements or dietary changes. However, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider to rule out more serious conditions.

2-Can iron supplements cause black stool in pregnancy?

Yes, iron supplements are a common cause of black stool during pregnancy. They can change the color of your stool, making it darker or black.

3-Should I stop taking iron supplements if my stool is black?

Do not stop taking iron supplements without consulting your healthcare provider. They can help determine if the supplements are the cause and if any adjustments are needed.

4-What foods can cause black stool during pregnancy?

Foods rich in iron, like red meat and spinach, and dark-colored foods like blueberries and black licorice, can cause black stool.

5-How can I prevent black stool during pregnancy?

Maintain a balanced diet, stay hydrated, monitor iron intake, avoid certain medications, and manage stress to help prevent black stool. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.