Pregnancy is the start of an incredible journey, you're excited, anxious, overwhelmed, and exhausted; sometimes all at the same time. As incredibly fabulous and ecstatic motherhood is, there is certainly nothing glamorous when it comes to the blush-worthy pregnancy issues, such as ‘Gas’.
Flatulence (excessive gas) and/or belching (burping) are one of the most common complaints during pregnancy. This gets worse as your pregnancy progresses, and if ignored, can cause constipation and eventually hemorrhoids (piles).
At times, passing gas could be so painful that it could leave you wondering if you need to be rushed to the Emergency Room at that very moment. Studies say the average person passes gas 14 times a day and produces 1-4 pints of gas daily.
But it gets worse, in fact gas production doubles in pregnant women. It is normal to have air in the digestive tract which moves along with food and waste products. The question is, how do you decrease the amount you produce?
7 What Causes Gas
While, there are various reasons for gas formation, one of the main reasons moms-to-be complain of flatulence, belching and bloating, are due to the high levels of the hormone progesterone produced by the body during pregnancy.
Progesterone causes the muscles throughout your body to relax in preparation for the nine months ahead. Subsequently, this also loosens and relaxes the muscle tone of your gastro-intestinal tract causing your digestion to slow down.
This allows gas to build up easier leading to stomach cramps, belching, bloating and flatulence as early as the first trimester, before the baby bump begins to show. You may start feeling as though your pants are too tight to be buttoned up with an increase in gas or burping.
Does It Get Better?
Things slowly begin to worsen as the baby continues to grow within the womb. As your baby starts becoming bigger, it enlarges the uterus which further pushes your stomach up into the abdominal cavity making you feel more bloated after each of your meals.
6 How Excessive Gas Affects Baby and You
The enlarging uterus starts weighing more and more heavily on your rectum, which then wreaks havoc on your muscle control making it harder to control the release of gas.
All your good intentions to control your rectum by holding on to the urge to release, and by tightly squeezing your butt cheeks may not be able to contain the little puffs, even in public. As your pregnancy progresses, this windy problem continues too.
No pregnant woman would openly admit to facing this problem. So as long as it is spoken about, discussed openly in such articles or write-ups, pregnant women won’t realize it's quite normal.
Don't let your embarrassment prevent you from telling your obstetrician about your symptoms and problems.
Whatever You Tel Your Doctor is Privileged
It's very important for them to know everything that is or has been happening to you so that they can determine whether you have been experiencing typical symptoms of pregnancy or something that needs to be diagnosed as not a pregnancy-related problem.
The worst part is, you'll find it very embarrassing and humiliating with every awkward situation. The good news is that your baby won’t be harmed by all the gas in your system.
Besides that, learning what triggers the gas and how to prevent it with some simple lifestyle changes and natural remedies can help you ease your discomfort and better manage the windy problem during pregnancy.
3. What Triggers Gas?
Gas comes from air that you swallow or eat and gets caught in the digestive tract. Your chances of swallowing air increase by: smoking, chewing gum, drinking carbonated beverages, using a straw to drink and by eating or drinking too quickly.
Medical conditions like allergies or sinus infections and severe heartburn can make you swallow air more often increasing the amount of gas in your system.
But the natural occurrence of bacteria in the colon is the major source of intestinal gas. The rest of the gas is a normal by-product of digestion, when bacteria in your colon break down the undigested food. You feel bloated and most of the gas in the stomach is released by burping.
Intestinal gas can also cause grumbling, growling and a whole symphony of bizarre and embarrassing noises in your stomach.
But, when certain foods can’t be absorbed normally by the small intestine, then the bacteria in the large intestine picks up the slack and manufactures more gas and needs to be released from the other end.
5 What Foods Cause Gas?
You, like some people, may have the tendency to produce a lot of gas from certain (disagreeable) foods that may not bother others at all. There are no scientific and/or physiological explanations for some of the reactions. You just need to learn how to manage.
Dairy Products: One reason is lactose intolerance. You may not be making enough of the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose (the sugar in dairy products). Hence you bloat when you have too much milk, cheese or ice cream. If you eliminate dairy products from your daily intake, make sure you find alternate sources of calcium.
Sulfur-rich Foods: Another reason is, the more sulfur-rich foods you eat, the more sulfides and methanethiol (a harmless but pungent-smelling gas) will be produced by the bacteria in your colon, and the more your farts will stink. Foods like cauliflower, eggs and meat are really bad for expelling stinky farts.
Raffinose Foods: Found in beans, whole grains, and vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes and asparagus. Beans especially, contain sugars that are hard todigest. When these sugars enter your intestines, the bacteria in your colon go haywire; starts feasting on these sugars thereby producing loads of gas. Whole grains too add to this brigade of gas producing foods. These foods also contain fructose found in apples, honey, wheat, dried fruit, onions and leeks, and found in sodas, fruit drinks, and anything containing high-fructose corn syrup.
Is Nothing Sacred?
Starchy Foods: Wheat, corn, potatoes and fibre-rich foods like oat bran, peas. The starch found in rice and wheat bran is fine as you would more fibre in your diet.
Fatty foods: While fat doesn’t cause gas as such, it does tend to slow down your rate of digestion leading to producing more gas.
Fizzy Drinks: Carbonated drinks like soda, pops, seltzer, mineral or drinks sweetened with sorbitol can contribute to increased gas.
Candies and Bubble Gums: If you are used to chewing on bubble gum or sucking on candy, then beware as you may allow more air to be swallowed, which can lead to bloating and gas.
Lastly, do not smoke during pregnancy because as you smoke, you swallow air and saliva, which too leads to more gas.
Fruits, vegetables and grains are important for digestion. If you have gas, eat a little less of these to ease your symptoms. But do not try to eliminate such healthy foods from your diet.
4 How to Deal with Gas
Most pregnant women just have to belch and deal with intestinal gas every day. But if it causes real discomfort and some embarrassing moments, then you definitely need to make some serious changes in your lifestyle.
The American Pregnancy Association, the Mayo Clinic, the March of Dimes and many other experts have recommended these lifestyle changes to pregnant women, who are facing this issue:
- For immediate relief, drink a glass of lukewarm water
- Avoid or reduce carbohydrate drinks
- Avoid fatty fried foods
- Directly drink from a glass, do not use a straw
- Eat smaller meal portions throughout the day
The Cure Isn't Worse Than the Problem
- Physical activity, exercise like a brief stroll which helps stimulate digestion
- Try to avoid wearing tight clothing especially around your waist
- Limit or avoid artificial sweeteners
- Drink lots of fluids to avoid being constipated
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
It is very important to ensure that you and the baby growing inside you are getting the proper amount of nutrients, hence do not cut out on any food groups.
The best option is to steam your vegetables and pre-soak the beans before eating to help cut down on the formation of extra gas. Also avoid holding the gas in because it puts pressure on you and causes pain. So if you are having pregnancy gas, just let it out!
3 Prevent Excessive Gas
First thing you should do is cut off on refined sugars and fried foods. Carbonated beverages, sodas and sweetened fruit juices contain high-fructose corn syrup which increases bloating. Opt for some fresh fruits like bananas, guavas and apricots.Onions, beans, cabbage, artichokes, asparagus and broccoli are foods that trigger gas. So eat in moderation. Try to eat less fatty foods so-as-to avoid the feeling of bloating.
Next, eat foods rich in fibre. Soluble fibre slows digestion and insoluble fibre helps prevent constipation. Oat, wheat and rice bran, yams, carrots, apples, green leafy veggies, whole-grains and whole wheat toast are all a good source of fibre.
The recommended daily intake of dietary fibre is between 25-40 grams a day for adults, but as a pregnant woman you can just add fibre in moderation to your diet to maintain regular bowel movements, thereby decreasing gas pains and discomfort.
It's Better than the Alternative
Drink lots of fluids, drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated, encourages proper bowel movements and thus prevents bloating and constipation. Include fresh fruit juices in your diet but avoid citrus fruit juices.
Scale down the size of your meals. Instead of having three large meals, you should eat more frequently, but eat smaller portions. This allows your body to quickly break down the food making digestion much easier. It also helps reduce any bloated feelings throughout the day.
Sit down and eat slowly, don't lie down while you are having snacks or light meals. Also do not eat fast because when you eat fast, you end up swallowing air along with your food. This air develops gas bubbles thereby increasing the amount of gas you have. Sit down, relax and enjoy your meals.
The Habits You Make Today Can Be Good for You Tomorrow
Maintain a diary of your daily diet. If you keep a food diary, and jot down your daily food intake, you can easily figure out which foods you've been eating in excess--and regularly--that may be causing you stomach cramps, stomach growling, belching, or gas. You'll know what food to avoid.
Generally you'll experience the volume of gas within 6 hours of each meal. So if you have this gassy sensation, you may figure out that it's not the snack you just munched on that's causing your gas, but rather it is the meal you had a few hours ago.
2 Eat Well and Exercise
Basically you can judge for yourself soon as to which food/s is causing you discomfort as in bloating or flatulence.Avoid eating those frequently or in excess. Talk to your doctor and/or consult a nutritionist. Follow a proper pregnancy diet; don’t miss on your medicines. Also always eat fresh food, and not frozen or processed food.
Do some Exercise. Sometimes just staying put at home with hardly any movement increases the gas and there will not be enough room for the gas to move around causing you discomfort and bloating. A great way to deal with bloating is to walk daily for about 10 to 15 minutes after dinner in and around your house at least.
This will help you ease some of the excessive gas you are experiencing and your sluggish digestive tract. A short walk also decreases your stress which can actually be the cause of abdominal pain and gas. Certain yoga poses such as Pawanamuktasana or Wind Relieving Pose can also help reduce abdominal discomfort. But do it under supervision of a genuine experience yoga instructor.
Do You Really Want to Spend 9 Months Passing Gas?
Other Options Include:
- Position yourself appropriately: Put your feet up on a pillow giving a little elevation so that the baby puts less pressure on your abdomen. This would ease some gas.
- Wear loose clothing. Tight clothing can cause discomfort and also may aggravate gas pain and bloating as it makes it hard for food to digest easily. Always wear loose clothing, especially while eating and you may not feel uneasy.
- Take Warm Baths. Warm baths is great for getting rid of painful gas. It helps circulate blood properly throughout your body. You would feel fresh and light.
- Take Medication to Relieve Gas. There are some medications that help relieve gas. If you have to take them then you should be consulting your doctor first.
You should also avoid stressful situations.Take things easy and relax because tension can cause you to swallow too much air during the day and also during meals leading to intestinal gas. Too much of stress also causes indigestion which also increases the amount of gas. Therefore, do not let anything upset you, stay cool, positive and optimistic.
1 Natural Home Remedies for Pregnancy Gas
Since ages, people have been using natural home remedies to treat digestive ailments. There is no dearth of home remedies that thrive in Indian culture, Chinese and African. Some of them are very effective, like:
Fenugreek Seeds: A simple home remedy to reduce gas and bloating during pregnancy is to soak fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight.The next morning, discard the seeds and drink the water on an empty stomach to relieve stomach pain and gas. This also helps maintain the blood sugar levels.
Ginger: Ginger has been used medicinally for many years as it is a digestive stimulant. Chewing a raw piece of ginger after meals is the most effective. However, pregnant women should not have more than 1 gram per day.
Natural Is Better!
Chamomile: Chamomilehas been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years to calm anxiety and settle stomachs. Chamomile is best consumed as a tea when pregnant to help relieve digestive ailments like bloating and flatulence.
Peppermint: Peppermint is another effective herbal remedy which can be brewed in a cup of tea to feel fresh and relieve irritable bowel syndrome. And it is caffeine-free.
Red Rooibos tea: The red Rooibos tea is absolutely caffeine-free and low in tannins. You can enjoy the refreshing beverage all day long with no possible side effects. Drinking rooibos tea eases severe stomach cramps and pregnancy gas, as well as boosts the immune system of the human body.
Drink Tea, Reduce Gas
Warning: If at some point of time during your pregnancy, you experience severe intestinal discomfort with abdominal cramps, blood in stool or diarrhoea, constipation or increased bout of vomiting along with gas and bloating, then immediately call on your doctor for immediate treatment if needed.
Implementing few of these gas-busting strategies will definitely make you feel much better.
Just because you are pregnant does not mean you have to go through all these gassy mayhem for the whole long nine months of your pregnancy.
It is all simply about listening to your body and adjusting to it accordingly.It is just that you need to learn what to avoid, what to eat and how much to eat during pregnancy by trial and error.
I bet, by doing so, you’ll be well on your way to a gas-free pregnancy!