Are you pregnant and feeling gassy? Gas and bloating are very common during pregnancy. Keep reading for 10 safe, natural ways you can get relief.
Pregnancy causes a lot of changes throughout the body and not all of them are comfortable. No one really likes to talk about it, but one of the most common physical side effects of pregnancy is feeling especially bloated or gassy. It’s completely normal to find yourself burping more often, feeling flatulent or dealing with constipation while you’re pregnant. But why does pregnancy cause these changes and what can you do about it?
What Causes Gas and Bloating During Pregnancy?
While you’re pregnant, your body produces more of a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone causes the muscles in your body to relax, including the muscles of your digestive tract. As a result, your digestion slows down. Food spends up to 30 percent longer traveling through your digestive tract, meaning there’s more time for uncomfortable bloating and gas to build up inside you.
You’re also more likely to get constipated during pregnancy. There are several reasons for this. One reason is that your large intestine absorbs more water from your stool while you’re pregnant. The iron in your prenatal vitamins can also make your stool harder. Pressure from your growing uterus can also contribute to constipation. And while constipation is uncomfortable enough on its own, it also leads to—you guessed it—more gas buildup.
The foods you eat can contribute to bloating, too. Certain carbohydrates and vegetables can make you feel gassy. Beans, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage, dairy products and carbonated drinks are all common offenders.
Gas and bloating are an uncomfortable but common side effect of pregnancy. You may not be able to get rid of your digestive issues entirely, but you can minimize them with some good lifestyle choices. Keep these tips in mind next time you’re bloated, and you’ll be feeling better in no time.
Simple changes you can make to manage bloating and gas during your pregnancy:
1. Slow down.
Eat slowly. When you eat too fast, you’re more likely to swallow extra air, which can lead to burping or painful bloating. Take your time and make sure to chew your food thoroughly before you swallow.
2. Track your food intake.
Keeping a food journal will help you figure out which foods make you gassy and which are easier to digest. It’ll also help you ensure that both you and your baby are getting all the nutrients you need. One tip: To figure out what’s causing your gas, eliminate foods from your diet one at a time. You should always check with your doctor before you alter your diet.
3. Avoid carbonated drinks.
Carbonated drinks might be refreshing, but all those bubbles are bad news for your digestion. Take a break from the soda and the seltzer and treat yourself to something like infused water or herbal tea instead. Different teas such as fennel, chamomile or anise are good against bloating as they have a soothing effect.
4. Eat small, frequent meals.
Big meals can overload your digestive tract, causing bloating and discomfort. Keep things moving along smoothly by eating small, frequent meals throughout the day instead. You should also avoid taking heavy meals before going to bed.
5. Drink lots of water.
Water is very important for preventing constipation, so drink up. Try to drink at least 80 ounces, or 10 eight-ounce cups, of water every day. Don’t drink too much during meals (better would be to avoid drinking during meals completely), though—sip your water throughout the rest of the day instead.
6. Get some exercise every day.
Exercise helps to keep your digestion moving along quickly, so don’t skip your workout. Even a 30-minute walk can help you feel better. Exercise is generally considered safe during pregnancy, but if you don’t currently work out, ask your doctor before you start an exercise regimen.
7. Stay away from artificial sweeteners.
Your body can’t digest many artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol. This can lead to bloating and pain. Avoid anything flavored with artificial sweeteners while you’re pregnant, including diet soda and low-sugar candy.
8. Don’t chew gum.
Chewing gum can make you swallow air, and extra air is the last thing you want in your stomach right now. If you have a gum habit, cut back a little every day, or replace gum chewing with healthy snacking.
9. Eat enough fiber.
Fiber keeps your digestion moving along. Make sure to eat plenty of high-fiber foods every day like vegetables and whole grains. A fiber supplement will also do the job. However, as dietary fibers also promote bloathing, pay attention to which of them you eat. Vegetables should be cooked or steamed instead of consuming them raw. Leek and onions should be avoided, as they can increase bloating.
10. Take a stool softener.
If constipation is a problem for you, a stool softener can help you feel better. Be careful which one you take, though. Docusate is safe for pregnant women, but stimulant laxatives are not. Ask your doctor before you start taking a stool softener, just to be on the safe side.
In addition to these steps, warm baths, abdominal massages and stress reduction can help against bloating. For more information, ask your doctor or obgyn.