Gas During Pregnancy

image001If you have been pregnant in the past, you already know that having gas is one of the inconvenient and unattractive things that can happen during pregnancy. Passing gas can embarrass you, but having gas bubbles can also give you pain and make you feel bloated.

Gas during pregnancy is most often caused by the elevated progesterone levels in the body and other things associated with the digestive system in pregnancy. Even though gas is a normal part of pregnancy, there are things you can do to help reduce your discomfort. Below are some helpful tips on reducing the amount of gas while you are pregnant.

Gas During Pregnancy – Why Do You Have It?

The bloating associated with gas is often referred to as indigestion. For the majority of people it is referred to as “passing gas.” You may have heard it also called “farting.” When doctors talk about gas they refer to it as “flatulence.” When you have a buildup of gas, it naturally needs a way out of the body and this is most often through the rectum or by burping from the mouth.

It is pretty normal to experience reoccurring bouts of gas when you are pregnant. This is pretty common amongst almost all pregnant women. On average, people pass gas around 18 times daily and this means people make about 4 pints of gas a day. When you are pregnant, you will notice increased gas due to the high levels of progesterone in the body. This hormone makes all your muscles relax more than normal.

When muscles relax due to progesterone, your intestinal muscles relax and digestion slows. It takes 30% more time for food to move through the intestinal tract when you are pregnant. Because of this, there is more time for gas to build up and you will feel more bloated. When your uterus increased the pressure on your abdomen later in pregnancy, gas tends to worsen.

Since progesterone relaxes the muscles, including the anal opening and the esophagus, you may be unable to hold it in while you are pregnant and this may lead to some embarrassing situations. For now, you can pat your growing belly and have a giggle about it.

Gas During Pregnancy – How Can You Relieve It?

Important Notes: Gas will not hurt you or your baby while you are pregnant and it is only a discomfort. Even though you may need to eliminate some foods from your diet to control gas, make sure you have an adequate source of the missing nutrients such as; iron, calcium, protein and vitamins.

Preventing gas build up during pregnancy isn’t possible, but you can do a few things to keep gas manageable. Just focus on trying to create less gas in the body. Here are some helpful tips:

1. Choose the Right Foods

Try not to eat gas causing foods. Remove foods like peas, whole grains and beans from your diet. Add them back in one at a time and see which food causes the most gas. You can also log the foods you eat in a journal to see which are causing you to be gassy. The table below is a more comprehensive list of foods that cause gas:

Potential Culprits for Gas During Pregnancy

Food Groups

Why Avoid Them

Whole grains, beans and some vegetables

These foods contain rafinose, a sugar that makes the body produce more gas.

Foods that may be causing your bloating include whole grains, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

Fruits and vegetables containing fructose

Fructose is a fruit sugar that can ferment into gas in the digestive system.

Avoid onions, leeks, apples, pears, wheat, scallions, dried fruits, artichokes and honey.

Soft drinks

Soft drinks and sodas contain fructose and high fructose corn syrup that can produce gas and bloating.

Avoid fruit flavored drinks and sodas that contain fructose or high fructose corn syrup.

Starches

Foods that are high in fiber and starch do not get digested until they hit the large intestine. This causes more gas production since it sits for a long time in the digestive tract.

Avoid foods like oat bran, corn, wheat, beans, peas and potatoes. Rice and wheat bran are okay to eat. Wheat bran can also aid digestion, constipation and prevent gas build up.

Dairy

The lactose in dairy can cause diarrhea, bloating and gas in people who are lactose intolerant.

If you have lactose intolerance, avoid dairy products but make sure you replace them with calcium fortified foods.

2. Eat Smaller and More Frequent Meals

The more you eat at one meal, the longer it will sit in your digestive tract and produce gas. Turn 3 meals a day into 6 small meals a day so your body can digest it more easily.

3. Eat Slowly

You may notice that you are the first one finished at the table. If so, try to eat slower so you take in less air when you eat. Taking in air makes gas bubbles in your stomach. Coupled with the gas produced in digesting food can really make you uncomfortable.

4. Increase Fiber

Fiber in the diet can help relieve the constipation in pregnancy and help aid digestion. This in turn will help keep gas production, gas pain and bloating to a minimum. Just try to keep a balance with fiber intake and add it in slowly to prevent it from adding to the gas issue.

5. Exercise

Gas is something that will never completely go away. Exercising after you eat can help to move food and gas through your system. Walk around the block, run the vacuum or do some pregnancy exercises. If you sit for long periods then the gas will not move and you may get cramping and excess bloating. Pregnancy yoga can also help with proper breathing and helps you relax. This will also help keep you from swallowing air when you are nervous.

6. Change Position

Sit with your feet propped up on a pillow. This will help keep the baby high and relieve abdominal pressure.

7. More Tips

Try the following tips from the American Pregnancy Association:

  • Try not to use straws. They cause you to take in air.
  • Cut down on high carbohydrate beverages.
  • Chew your food completely.
  • Increase your water intake
  • Try not to eat fried or fatty foods
  • Do not use artificial sweeteners
  • Wear loose clothing in the abdominal area

Watch a video to learn more: why do you experience gas during pregnancy and how to relieve this discomfort