Gas and bloating during pregnancy

Gas and bloating during pregnancy

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Why do I have so much more gas during pregnancy?

The main reason your body makes more gas during pregnancy is because you have much more progesterone, a hormone that relaxes muscles throughout your body, including your digestive tract. These relaxed muscles slow down digestion, which can lead to gas, bloating, burping, and flatulence, and generally create uncomfortable sensations in your gut, especially after a big meal.

People normally pass gas a dozen or so times a day. But when you're pregnant, you may belch or pass gas much more often, or have to unbutton your pants to relieve bloating, even weeks before you begin to show. Later in pregnancy, your growing uterus crowds your abdominal cavity, further slowing digestion, and pushes on your stomach, making you feel even more bloated after eating.

This is why you may also have heartburn or constipation during pregnancy, even if you've never been bothered by these conditions before.

What causes gas?

Gas gets caught in the digestive tract in two ways: when you swallow air and when bacteria in your large intestine (colon) break down undigested food. Most stomach gas results from swallowing air and is typically released by burping, though a small amount continues down to the large intestine and is released when you fart. Most of the gas that causes flatulence is produced when bacteria in the large intestine break down food that was incompletely digested by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine.

Certain carbohydrates are the main culprits of flatulence. Protein and fats produce little gas directly, although fats can contribute to a sense of bloating and gassiness because they slow down digestion.

Some people get a lot of gas from foods that don't bother others at all. For example, people with lactose intolerance get bloated and gassy after having dairy products like milk or ice cream. That's because they don't make enough lactase – the enzyme that breaks down the sugar (lactose) in dairy products. The balance of bacteria in the colon, which varies from person to person, may also affect how much gas you make.

Can I relieve gas by changing my diet?

Yes. Cutting back on the foods that are most likely to cause gas is usually the most effective way to reduce it. But eliminating everything that might cause gas would make it hard to eat a balanced diet.

Start by cutting out foods most likely to cause gas and bloating. If that gives you relief, begin adding those foods back into your diet one by one to try to pinpoint what's causing the problem. Keeping a food diary can help you figure out if certain foods seem to cause more gas than others.

Some common causes of gas include:

  • Beans, whole grains, and certain vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus. These all contain the sugar raffinose, which makes a lot of people gassy.
  • Fructose. This form of sugar occurs naturally in certain foods, specifically leeks, onions, artichokes, dried fruit, canned tomatoes, ketchup, pears, apples, honey, wheat, and fruit juice. High fructose corn syrup is a form of fructose that's frequently added to processed foods and many sodas and fruit drinks. (Carbonation can also contribute to bloating.)
  • Certain starches such as wheat, corn, and potatoes (but not rice).
  • Some fiber-rich foods such as oat bran, beans, peas, and many kinds of fruit. These foods are normally broken down in the large intestine, leading to gas. Wheat bran, however, basically passes through your digestive system without getting broken down, so it's a good choice if you're constipated and want to add more fiber without risking more flatulence.
  • Dairy products. People who are lactose intolerant get gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain from eating dairy products. If you're only mildly lactose intolerant, you might not have noticed any symptoms – until you boosted your consumption of dairy products during pregnancy. If you suspect dairy products are the problem, try lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soy milk. (If you aren't drinking any kind of milk, you'll probably need to take a calcium supplement. Also, ask your provider if you're getting enough vitamin D from your prenatal vitamin.)
  • High-fat and fried foods

What else can I do to relieve gas and bloating during pregnancy?

In addition to adjusting your diet, try a few of these other suggestions:

  • Don't eat big meals. Instead, eat several small meals throughout the day.
  • Take your time and chew thoroughly. Don't talk while you're eating.
  • Limit how much you drink during meals. Drink regularly throughout the day instead.
  • Drink from a cup or glass – not from a bottle or through a straw – and don't gulp.
  • Don't drink carbonated beverages.
  • Don't drink anything sweetened with the artificial sweetener sorbitol.
  • Don't chew gum or suck on hard candies.
  • Sit up while you're eating or drinking, even if you're just having a small snack.
  • Get moving. Even a brisk walk can help a sluggish digestive tract.
  • Prevent or treat constipation because it can add to flatulence and a feeling of abdominal bloating.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking not only contributes to many serious health problems, it also boosts stomach acidity. (Try to quit before getting pregnant. If you're having trouble, ask your provider to refer you to a program that can help.)
  • Try prenatal yoga to learn relaxation and good breathing techniques. Some people tend to swallow more air when they're excited or anxious.

If these tips don't help, ask your healthcare provider whether you can take an over-the-counter gas remedy that contains simethicone. (Don't take activated charcoal tablets without first checking with your healthcare provider because they may not be safe during pregnancy.)

Can gas during pregnancy ever be a sign that something is wrong?

Yes. Call your provider if your intestinal discomfort ever feels more like abdominal pain or cramping, or if you also have blood in your stool, severe diarrhea, constipation, or nausea and vomiting.

Learn more:

Watch the video: 6 WEEK PREGNANCY UPDATE!! Bloating u0026 Fatigue (July 2022).


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