Causes of gas in pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, signs like missed periods, breast tenderness, fatigue, and nausea may not be surprising to you. However, during pregnancy gas can come as an unpleasant surprise. It's one of the unexpected signs of pregnancy. If you have excessive bloating in addition to morning sickness in early pregnancy, you’re not alone.
Gas is a common symptom in pregnancy, showing up around week 11 and lasting for the better part of the pregnancy. The good thing is that the condition is manageable and will be over sooner than you think.
Your body undergoes many changes throughout pregnancy, including physical and hormonal changes that lead to excess gas. You may also experience gas pain that ranges from slight discomfort to unbearable pain throughout the back, abdomen, and chest. Bloating and cramps in the stomach and intestines may also be present.
Early Pregnancy: In the first trimester, you will notice many drastic hormonal changes as progesterone and estrogen increase in your body. Their work is to thicken the uterus lining to make the environment comfortable for the growing baby. These are some changes caused by hormones:
- Progesterone helps the muscles to relax, including those that support the intestines. As this happens, the digestive system significantly slows down in its functions.
- High estrogen levels cause the body to retain gas and water in significantly higher amounts than usual. The result is that you may feel pain and discomfort in the abdomen.
Late pregnancy: The second and third trimesters are characterized by a shift in the uterus position to accommodate the growing baby. Symptoms such as fatigue and morning sickness reduce in their intensity.
As the uterus enlarges, it compresses the surrounding organs, leading to digestive issues. Constipation and excess gas become more pronounced, leading to uncomfortable gas and bloating.
How long does gas in pregnancy last?
A bloated stomach and constipation may persist into late pregnancy. It gets worse as the uterus expands and pushes back against the intestines. Take comfort your baby will soon arrive.
In such cases, ensure the juices you take don’t contain certain bloating-promoting sugars known as FODMAPs. Examples are grape, cranberry, orange, and pineapple juices. You also must monitor your sugar intake in juices and carbonated drinks to reduce the risk of increased gas.
Exercise can help with gas: physical activity and exercise should become a part of your daily routine. You may not make it to the gym, but you can take a daily walk for at least 30 minutes per session. Exercise will promote emotional and physical fitness while also speeding up digestion and reducing the risk of constipation and heartburn. However, consult with your healthcare provider before starting any fitness regime.
Test your diet: be observant about the foods that trigger gas and bloating, and try removing them from your diet one at a time. Do this until your gas symptoms improve, but ensure you always have a balanced meal. Common gas culprits include broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, fried foods, whole grains, dairy products, beans, and wheat.
Have a fiber-rich diet: interestingly, most of the foods that contribute to gas problems in the short term can help manage the situation. Fiber, for example, helps bring more water to the intestines hence softening the stool and allowing for its smooth passage.
Include 25 to 30 grams of fiber in your meals to help ease the gas. Some fruits like figs, prunes, bananas, and vegetables, and whole grains like flax meal and oats are excellent fiber sources to consider. If you don't have access to these fiber sources, you can opt for fiber supplements. Talk to your doctor about it first to be on the safe side.
Opt for smaller meals: the more food you eat in one sitting, the higher your chances of having gas trapped in the intestines. Instead of large meals per sitting, fuel yourself up on six small meals throughout the day. Add two or three moderate snacks to keep your baby nourished while preventing your digestive system from overloading.
Overall, try to relax and don’t eat as a way of dealing with stress. Stop and take a few deep breaths before you put anything in the mouth. It will help you to be more conscious about your eating habits in pregnancy.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American College of Gastroenterology: "Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence."
American Journal of Epidemiology: "Frequency of Eating During Pregnancy and Its Effects on Preterm Delivery."
American Pregnancy Association: "Pregnancy Gas: Causes and Prevention."
Better Health: "Pregnancy- signs and symptoms."
British Nutrition Foundation: "Common Concerns During Pregnancy."
Gastroenterology and Hepatology from Bed to Bench: "Bloating in irritable bowel syndrome."
HEALTH STATE: "HEARTBURN AND UPSET STOMACH DURING PREGNANCY."
Kids Health: "Constipation."
Lumen: "Changes to the Mother's Body During Pregnancy."
NHS: "Week-by-week guide to pregnancy."
Nutrients: "High-Fiber Diet during Pregnancy Characterized by More Fruit and Vegetable Consumption."
Obstetrics and Gynaecology: "Functional bowel disorders in pregnancy: effect on quality of life, evaluation and management."
The College of Family Physicians in Canada: "Treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy."
University of Rochester Medical Center: "Keep Cool: Hot-Weather Tips for Pregnant Women."
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