The beautiful experience of being pregnant is often tainted by some not-so-beautiful physiological tendencies going into overdrive, the most embarrassing being flatulence. Most pregnant women the world over report encountering unmanageable gas and bloating during their gestation period.
Causes of Gas During Pregnancy
There are a number of causes for the formation of gas during pregnancy.
- According to the American Pregnancy Association, one key contributing factor is the increased level of progesterone during pregnancy. The hormone causes the muscles throughout your body to relax. When your intestinal muscles relax, your digestion slows down, allowing more time for the gas to build up and rendering your muscles too loose to hold the gas in. This leads to increased bloating, burping, and flatulence.(1)
- The incessant hunger pangs and consequent snacking compounded by the almost sedentary lifestyle that you become resigned to during your child-carrying months all contribute towards the increased gas formation and a general feeling of heaviness.
- Gestational diabetes: On account of the elevated sugar levels, the pregnant woman feels bloated, particularly during the third trimester.
- As the pregnancy progresses and the uterus grows in size, it takes up more room in the abdominal cavity, putting additional pressure on the stomach and slowing down digestion even more. This results in the greater gas buildup and bloating.
- Some other risk factors include constipation and indigestion, along with some degree of heartburn.
Symptoms of Gas During Pregnancy
- Severe pain in the abdomen, which may stay localized in one area or travel all through your belly, back, and chest
- Belching, burping, and flatulence that are more frequent than usual
- Tightness in the abdomen
- A sudden inability to manage and control gas release or a lot of gas passing accidents
Preventing Gas During Pregnancy
Some preventive measures that come in handy to relieve your gaseous problems are as follows:
- Refrain from drinking too much water during meals. Drink a glass 10 minutes before and after the meal instead. Also, regularize your fluid intake over the course of the day.
- Don’t drink water directly from the bottle or with a straw. Always drink from a cup or a glass to minimize the air that enters your system along with the water.
- Make sure you have regular bowel movements to prevent constipation.
- Excess tension or stress can also be responsible for gas production. So, avoid stressful situations as much as possible.
- Keep a food journal to identify the foods you eat that are causing gas during your pregnancy.
- When you drink water or juice, drink in sips instead of gulping down the whole glass.
- Avoid carbonated beverages.
When to See a Doctor
Pregnancy-related gas and bloating may be uncomfortable experiences for the mother, but these symptoms usually don’t affect the baby growing in her womb.
However, consult a doctor if gas trouble escalates to:
- Stinging pain in the abdomen that stretches for more than 30 minutes
- Diarrhea that extends over 2 days
- Constipation that lasts beyond a week
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark or bloody stools
These symptoms can indicate a more serious underlying issue that needs an ob-gyn’s evaluation.
While gas can be embarrassing and highly uncomfortable, some simple and effective home remedies can help reduce gas during pregnancy.
Alternative Ways to Deal with Gas During Pregnancy
Here are some home remedies for gas during pregnancy.
1. Avoid Gas-Forming Foods
The food you eat has a direct impact on the amount of gas you experience, pregnant or not. During pregnancy, you need to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and avoid foods that can lead to gas buildup in the stomach and intestines.
Some common foods that cause gas and bloating include cabbage, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, pasta, bread, white rice, potatoes, oat bran, raspberries, and pears.(2)
One practical method is to maintain a food journal to keep track of what food you eat and the corresponding gas volume experienced with it. This will help you identify and eliminate the problematic foods from your diet.
If you are lactose intolerant or even slightly allergic to milk, needless to say, you must avoid dairy products and look into alternatives such as soy milk or rice milk.
Additionally, avoid greasy or fried fatty foods. They take a long time to break down and digest. Also, sodas and fruity, fizzy drinks are packed with empty calories and can cause gas.
2. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Water is your best bet when it comes to improving your digestive health and preventing the formation of gas. The digestive tract functions better when the body gets an adequate amount of fluid intake.
Proper hydration is also important for your baby’s health.
Drink about 8 to 10 glasses of plain or flavored water every day. Also, include juice in your diet that is low in certain types of hard-to-digest sugars called FODMAPs, which lead to increased gas formation. Cranberry, grape, pineapple, and orange juice are some of the best examples.
Avoid carbonated and fizzy beverages such as soda that work only to exacerbate your gas-prone condition, due to the carbon dioxide and artificial sweeteners present in them.
3. Up Your Fiber Intake
Foods that contain fiber may cause your body to produce more gas, but it also helps move the food more smoothly through the digestive tract and ensures regular and timely bowel movements. Thus, by preventing constipation, the problem of excessive gas is inherently kept in check as well.(5)(6)
Moreover, fibrous foods bring water into the intestines, softening the stools and allowing them to pass more easily.
- Including 25 to 30 grams of high-fiber foods into your daily diet can help ease gas. You can eat prunes, bananas, oats, and flaxseeds to boost your fiber intake.
- If you are not fond of high-fiber foods, ask your doctor about a fiber supplement and take it as directed.
4. Be Active
Pregnancy often entails an inactive and sedentary lifestyle with the objective of keeping you and your unborn child out of harm’s way. While safety and caution are paramount for an expecting mother, this does not necessarily mean that you need to lie in your bed and rest all day.
Regular exercise during pregnancy is beneficial for reducing the formation of excess gas.
The best thing to do after a meal is to engage in some light exercise such as washing the dishes or a short walk in the park. This is far more conducive to quick and efficient food digestion than sitting still in one place. This means your food will move through your intestinal tract more quickly and produce less gas along the way.(7)
However, one should not get carried away and break into strenuous exercise routines in a fit of passion. Mild and harmless exercises, such as a brisk walk in the park or some appropriate yoga asanas, are ideal for pregnant women to rid them of their pesky gas troubles.
This, compounded by the fact that exercise also prevents unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy, helps improve glucose metabolism and reduces insulin resistance, giving further credence to the efficacy of this lifestyle approach in ensuring the health of expecting mothers.
5. Perform Yoga and Meditation
Prenatal yoga is as much a gas buster as it is a stress buster. The “cow pose” is one of the ideal yoga asanas that help with the abdominal discomfort caused by pregnancy-related gas issues.
It helps open the chest and promote spinal flexibility and provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs. This, in turn, works to release the tightness in the abdomen, which is a huge solace during pregnancy.
Since pregnant women tend to stress over the smallest of things, given their vulnerable state and the responsibility of another life growing in their belly, much of their gassy problems are stress induced.
It is often noted that people in their anxious state tend to breathe incorrectly and swallow more air than usual, which in turn gets locked in their digestive tract and is released in the form of frequent belching and flatulence. Moreover, stress-related gas has also been associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you find yourself getting overly worked up about the usual concerns that characterize a mother-to-be, try stress management and relaxation therapies such as meditation and yoga.(8) Pregnancy is both a life-giving and a life-altering experience. Don’t stress it, just embrace it.
- Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Position your arms directly below your shoulders, keeping them straight.
- Inhale as you drop your belly and gaze at the upper portion of the wall in front of you, stretching your head, neck, and chest upward.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times, and then finish with the child’s pose to relax your body.
6. Drinking Probiotics can Help
Probiotic drinks are a great home remedy for gas during pregnancy. Being rich in probiotic microbes, they help promote digestion. The lesser time it takes for food to get processed and remain in the colon, the lesser the gas formation. The flavorsome taste of these drinks doesn’t hurt either.
A pilot study in 2012 published in Nutrition Journal found that the multispecies probiotic mixture seemed to be safe and possibly effective to relieve constipation during pregnancy. However, a large placebo-controlled randomized trial was required to confirm the data.(9)
7. Drink Fenugreek-Infused Water
Fenugreek contains a good amount of soluble fiber that absorbs water in the intestines and adds bulk to the stools. This helps ease constipation, which in turn prevents the formation of gas during pregnancy.(10)
- Put 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in 1 cup of water.
- Let it soak overnight.
- The next morning, strain out the infused water and drink it on an empty stomach.
8. Wear Loose Clothing
The clothes you wear during pregnancy can also play a key role in reducing gas.
For instance, clothing that is constricting around the waist or has a button closure just over your belly can further squeeze the abdomen, adding greater pressure on your already compressed digestive system. It also has a mitigating effect on the blood circulation in the body, further deteriorating your gas-afflicted condition.
So, if your pants or skirts are causing welts in your skin, your wardrobe needs an overhaul. Loose-fitting maternal wear, made of skin-friendly fabrics, will allow you to breathe without putting any extra strain on the abdomen and will allow the free movement of gases within the body as well.
9. Eat Smaller Meals
Another simple trick to avoid excess gas formation during pregnancy is to eat smaller meals. Instead of having three heavy meals, spread your meals out into five to seven small meals throughout the day.
This not only unburdens your overworked digestive system but also helps maintain a constant nutritional intake for the fetus to grow optimally.
The way you eat your meals also can affect how much gas is produced. Chew your food properly and avoid gulping down your food. Taking big bites of food and eating in a hurry can lead to faster gas formation in the stomach.
Also, avoid lying down and eating. Always eat your food in a seated position, and avoid lying down immediately after eating to avoid gas formation and constipation.
- Gas During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention. American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/gas-during-pregnancy/. Published May 19, 2016.
- Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes. Published July 1, 2016.
- Verghese TS, Futaba K. Constipation in pregnancy. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/tog.12179. Published March 31, 2015.
- Montgomery KS. Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond. The Journal of Perinatal Education. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595116/. Published 2002.
- Dahl WJ, Stewart ML. position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Plum X Matrix. https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(15)01386-6/fulltext. Published November 2015.
- Hsieh C. Treatment of Constipation in Older Adults. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1201/p2277.html#sec-7. Published December 1, 2005.
- Villoria A, Serra J, Azpiroz F, Malagelada JR. Physical activity and intestinal gas clearance in patients with bloating. The American journal of gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17029608. Published November 2006.
- Curtis K, Weinrib A, Katz J. Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/715942/. Published August 14, 2012.
- Milliano Ide, Tabbers MM, Post JAvan der, Benninga MA. Is a multispecies probiotic mixture effective in constipation during pregnancy? ‘A pilot study’. Nutrition Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3502183/. Published 2012.
- Srinivasan K. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): A Review of Health Beneficial Physiological Effects. Food Reviews International. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/87559120600586315?src=recsys&journalCode=lfri20. Published February 6, 2007.