Gas during pregnancy is not pleasant, no matter how you look at it. And let’s be blunt here, we’re talking burping, farting, and bloating.
And it always tends to happen at the most inopportune moments.
Gas during pregnancy can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and even painful.
When you’re pregnant, you produce more gas than normal, and it’s all due to the hormonal changes which begin in early pregnancy.
How early do you get gas during pregnancy?
We know bloating and gas in everyday life can have different causes. During pregnancy, rising hormone levels contribute to morning sickness, increased gas, and bloating.
Progesterone is the main culprit for this extra bloating and gas production. During early pregnancy, progesterone ensures the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall and is nourished by the thick lining.
However, progesterone also acts to relax the smooth muscle tissue throughout your body. Unfortunately, not even your digestive tract is left unscathed. Slow-moving intestinal muscle means your digestion slows down too. Food isn’t fully digested and creates a build-up of gas, which needs to escape as burps or farts.
Progesterone also relaxes the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus, causing reflux and increasing burping. To top it off, increasing levels of estrogen can also cause gas and water retention.
Both hormones start to rise at the moment of conception and the levels continue to increase until your baby is born. This means bloating and passing gas can happen from the very beginning of pregnancy.
Your expanding uterus is also taking up more space in your abdominal cavity. This pushes out your stomach, making you feel even more bloated after eating.
Painful gas during pregnancy
Bloating during pregnancy isn’t nice but when you add painful gas it can become really distressing.
Although progesterone is mostly responsible for gas and bloating during pregnancy, increasing levels of estrogen can cause the body to hold on to gas and water. This retention can cause distension of the abdomen, which adds to the discomfort and pain.
As your uterus grows, the intestines have less space to do their work and they moving more slowly. This can increase painful gas.
You might be wondering what else can happen.
I’m afraid we haven’t talked about constipation, which is another direct consequence of a slow-moving digestive system.
Don’t worry. Although we know bloating, burping and farting are all part of being pregnant, we’re here to help you relieve these uncomfortable symptoms.
How can I help relieve gas during pregnancy?
Don’t forget to speak to your doctor or midwife if you’re experiencing pregnancy gas and need some help.
Here is a list of ideas that might help you get some relief from the amount of gas and the pain you are experiencing.
#1: Eat regularly
Our bodies communicate with us very well, especially when we are talking about our basic physical needs. Listen to your body when it’s telling you it’s hungry and needs to eat.
Remember, fewer and larger meals result in too much food going into your digestive tract at once, and it will take longer to digest. Try to eat several small meals throughout the day.
#2: Chew slowly
Digestion begins in our mouths. Saliva is full of enzymes that mix with the food and prepare it to go down to the next level after swallowing.
If we don’t chew properly, we increase the chance of more gas being created in the next stages of digestion. Take small bites of food, take your time to chew them thoroughly, and avoid talking or gulping food while you’re eating.
#3: Drink plenty of water between meals
Keep hydrated but try to drink as little as possible while you’re actually eating.
Instead, drink plenty between meals, as this allows all the solid nutrients to mix properly with your digestive enzymes.
When you have a drink, use a glass (without gulping) rather than a bottle or a straw.
#4: Avoid fizzy or carbonated drinks
This point doesn’t need too much explanation, right? If you’re trying to avoid gas, drinking gas isn’t a good idea. Carbonated drinks can make bloating much worse, too.
#5: Positions to relieve gas while pregnant
As your baby and uterus grow during pregnancy there is increased pressure on your intestines. Apart from avoiding certain foods, any position that relieves pressure on your abdomen will assist digestion and help prevent gas from building up.
Upright positions are ideal. If you sit down, make sure your pelvis is higher than your knees so your belly’s weight isn’t on your intestines.
If you lie down, make sure you are lying on your side. The large intestine has the shape of an inverted ‘U’. It starts going upwards on our right side and finishes in the rectum, on our left.
If you’re suffering from gas during pregnancy, lying on your left side will help relieve gas discomfort. You can also pass gas more easily in this position.
#6: Sit upright
The position you adopt while you’re eating is very important. Gravity helps a lot with digestion and your body will soon let you know.
While eating and drinking, you’ve probably noticed it’s more uncomfortable, or even difficult, if you are lying down.
This is because we are designed to eat and drink in an upright position, to aid digestion and avoid choking. This position doesn’t allow gas to build up in the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract.
#7: Avoid wearing tight clothing
During pregnancy, your belly doesn’t need any extra pressure, especially pressure that can be avoided.
Loose or elastic-waisted pants or skirts are ideal. Most maternity wear has plenty of ‘give’ in the waist area to allow your belly to grow into it.
#8: Avoid chewing gum
Chewing gum and hard lollies can contribute to you swallowing unnecessary gas. Chewing gum can alleviate nausea after eating, but it can also cause gas to build up, creating more of a problem.
#9: Avoid artificially sweetened products
You might think you’re doing the right thing by avoiding sugar. Many artificial sweeteners, however, cause gas and bloating.
For example, sorbitol cannot be digested efficiently, and fructose, which is a natural sugar added to processed foods, is very difficult to digest.
Natural sweeteners like honey or agave are your best options to sweeten up your life!
Exercising is one of the best ways to have a healthy lifestyle and exercise during pregnancy has many positive benefits.
If you want to help your digestive system do its job more efficiently, try taking a brisk walk around the block a few times a day, after eating.
#11: Peppermint tea
Peppermint tea is one of the best-known home remedies for relieving bloating and gas. The good news is that studies have shown peppermint tea doesn’t harm the mother or baby.
Drinking very large amounts is not recommended, however, as it might promote menstruation.
Stress and tension can contribute to pregnancy gas by causing your muscles to become tight and tense, which slows everything down even more.
If you have a tendency to be anxious or tense, try some relaxation techniques or take up yoga, which has the added benefit of teaching you breathing techniques for labor.
#13: Avoid constipation
If you’re suffering from pregnancy constipation, as well as everything else, see a naturopath for some quality prebiotics and probiotics. They will make sure your gut is as healthy as possible, to avoid gas and bloating.
A healthy gut flora will also help prevent constipation, which you don’t want in addition to bloating and gas during pregnancy.
To help prevent constipation, increase your fiber intake, by eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and drinking plenty of water. You can take fiber supplements during pregnancy if you need extra help but speak to your healthcare provider first.
If you have anemia during pregnancy, you might have to take iron supplements. These are notorious for causing constipation and you should be careful which form of iron you use.
Liquid forms or practitioner-only brands from naturopaths are often better tolerated.
If you have a problem with constipation Constipation During Pregnancy – 11 Tips For Relief might be helpful.
Foods to avoid if you have pregnancy gas and bloating
Some foods in our diet are known to cause gas. See if you can find out which of them could be causing you to produce extra gas bubbles, so you can start the process of elimination. You might like to keep a food diary in order to spot the culprit(s).
You should try to avoid fructose, a sugar that is found in some of these foods:
- Beans and other legumes
- Brussels sprouts
- Milk or cheese
Fatty foods, which also includes fried foods, can slow down digestion, so try to avoid them as much as you can.
Lactose intolerance can cause abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and gas in pregnant women who consume dairy products.
Completely avoiding dairy products, however, can lead to other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Your ob-gyn doctor can refer you to a dietician, so you can maintain a healthy diet during your pregnancy.
Does gas affect baby during pregnancy?
Pregnant women usually worry about their babies more than they worry about themselves. They usually become caring mothers the moment they find out they’re pregnant.
Although gas pain and bloating can be very uncomfortable and even cause you pain during pregnancy, at least they won’t harm your baby at all.
When to see the doctor
Call your doctor if you’re not sure whether gas is actually responsible for your pain and discomfort. Other health conditions that could be confused for gas include: