Pregnancy is associated with a wide array of symptoms that all women go through. However, intensity of these symptoms varies from woman to woman. Besides morning sickness, breast tenderness or frequent urination, women also experience gas and bloating. For most women, gas during pregnancy can be quite frustrating and uncomfortable. In this article, we’re going to explain the causes and provide some tips for instant relief. Keep reading to find out more.
Causes of Gas During Pregnancy
First, it is important to mention that every person passes gas. In fact, average person passes gas about 18 times a day, which accounts for 4 pints of gas on daily basis! This buildup of gas in your body occurs whether you are pregnant or not. However, pregnant women usually find it difficult to manage the gas which affects their social life.
One of the main gas during pregnancy causes are increased levels of progesterone, hormone which makes muscles in your body relax. In turn, your intestinal muscles relax more thus making your digestion slow down. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the transient time through the intestine can increase by 30% which allows your gas to build up easier, create bloating and flatulence.
Another cause of increased gases happens later in the pregnancy when enlarged uterus forms a pressure on the abdominal cavity. This pressure slows down digestion thus allowing gas to build up.
Muscle relaxation that occurs with high levels of progesterone makes it difficult for women to control and manage the gas release. For example, women may pass the gas in a crowded room without even being able to control, stop it, or leave the room before it happens.
Diet and Gas During Pregnancy
Foods you eat have a direct effect on the amount of gas you experience, regardless of being pregnant or not. Some foods are known for causing gas. For example:
- Dairy products
- Whole grains
- Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower
- Carbonated beverages
- Apples, pears, peaches, prunes
- Hard candies
- Chewing gums
- Processed foods.
Does this mean you should avoid all these items? If you do that, you won’t have a balanced diet which is essential for the optimal health of you and your baby. Remember, your baby needs a variety of minerals and nutrients to develop properly.
Ideally, if you have already identified the primary culprit that causes gas in your case, you should start by limiting the consumption of that fruit, vegetable etc. For example, if you eat that particular food every day, you should cut down to three times per week etc.
However, what happens when you don’t know what foods cause gases in your case? Experts recommend keeping a food diary. You should keep a log of everything you eat and drink every day and by the amount of gases you can identify what foods usually correlate with gas you pass. This way, you will know your triggers and what foods to limit.
Besides limited intake of foods that trigger gases, you should avoid consumption of high-fat and fried foods. These foods are unhealthy and don’t bring any benefits for you and your baby.
Can I Prevent Gas During Pregnancy?
Generally, it’s impossible to prevent gas and stop it from passing. Luckily, there are many things you can do to manage the gas you already experience and make it less frustrating and awkward. When it comes to gas during pregnancy, your primary aim is to make it occur less often.
American Pregnancy Association revealed a list of recommendations for managing and reducing gas during pregnancy:
- Avoid or limit intake of carbonated drinks
- Keep food diary
- Avoid unhealthy, processed and refined foods
- Don’t use straws when you drink juices, water etc.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day. Plus, drinking plenty of water prevents constipation as well.
- Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. In fact, chewing your food thoroughly is one of the best ways of reducing gas. It’s because most gas is caused by air bacteria in the large intestine which work to break down food that wasn’t digested thoroughly by enzymes in your stomach.
Tips To Relief Gas During Pregnancy
Besides keeping food diary, limiting intake of triggers and avoiding unhealthy foods altogether, there are many other things you can do to reduce gas during pregnancy. Below are a few examples:
- Instead of 2 – 3 big meals opt for 5 or 6 smaller ones
- Wear comfortable and loose clothes. Avoid wearing clothes that are tight around your waist and stomach.
- Exercise – Physical activity is important for healthy pregnancy. Consult your healthcare provider or sign up for one of those fitness classes for pregnant women in your gym. Exercise improves your digestion. Even a short walk can make a positive impact.
- Quit smoking – This bad habit can slow down baby’s development and it can also boost stomach acidity.
- Practice yoga or meditate for relaxation. Also, yoga and meditate teach you to pay more attention to the breaths you take. Both practices also prepare you to handle stress more effectively. In some situations, people start hyperventilating and swallow more air.
- Elevate your legs – When you find yourself burdened with the uncomfortable amount of gas, sit and elevate your legs. This way, you will take the pressure of your baby off of the abdomen and allow your body to digest food more freely.
- Eat fiber-rich food – Fiber brings water to your intestines thus softening your stool and allowing it to pass easily.
- If you don’t eat enough fiber – Rich foods, you can ask your doctor to recommend some fiber supplements that could benefit you. Also, you can ask your healthcare provider to recommend stool softeners as well. Naturally, when it comes to supplements, medications etc. you should never purchase a product without consulting your doctor first.
Flatulence or passing gas is normal and people usually do it 18 times a day. During pregnancy, passing gas becomes something that women usually can’t control easily due to high levels of progesterone. Although stopping gas from passing isn’t possible, there are many things you can do to reduce it and make it more manageable. Start by keeping food diary and limiting intake of triggers. Also, various tips from this article can help you manage gas and feel comfortable