Gas During Pregnancy: Causes and Tips for Relief
As if pregnancy wasn’t challenging enough, there’s the elephant in the room that we should address: gas.
Bloating, burping, abdominal pain, and flatulence are a part of virtually every pregnant person’s journey to delivery.
Pregnancy gas can make you incredibly uncomfortable, is inconvenient, and can be embarrassing. If you’re looking for a solution, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll explain what’s causing the extra gas and give you 10 tips for getting relief.
What Causes Pregnancy Gas?
You can blame pregnancy gas and bloat on your hormones.
As with most of the changes you experience during pregnancy, your hormones play a major role, but other culprits can also cause these specific pregnancy symptoms.
Specifically, the hormone progesterone begins to increase in early pregnancy.
The increase in this hormone during the first trimester helps relax your tendons, ligaments, and muscles — you’ll need them to be relaxed when you deliver your baby.
Unfortunately, this means all the muscles in your body are relaxing, including the ones in your intestines.
When these muscles relax, they aren’t able to push waste through as quickly, leaving your digestive tract and intestinal muscles sluggish.
The relaxation of these muscles allows for gas buildup and, in many cases, constipation.
Constipation is another symptom that is incredibly common for pregnant people to experience. Often, gas and constipation go hand in hand.
You likely started taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you found out you were pregnant (and possibly even beforehand if you were trying to get pregnant).
Prenatal vitamins help ensure you get all the vital nutrients your growing baby needs, and they also help support your health and wellness throughout your pregnancy.
Most prenatal vitamins contain iron, which is vital for the growth and development of the placenta and your baby.
Unfortunately, iron is known for producing constipation, which can lead to gas.
Pressure on Your Pelvis
As you get further along in your pregnancy, the weight of your uterus and growing baby can exert pressure on parts of your digestive tract, causing it to slow digestion even more.
The result? Constipation, heartburn, cramping, and of course, gas.
10 Tips To Relieve Pregnancy Gas
No matter the cause, you need a solution to help you tolerate your tummy until you give birth.
Here, we give you 10 proven methods to get relief from pregnancy gas fast.
1. Increase Your Water Intake
You probably already feel like you are in the bathroom every five minutes, but drinking plenty of water while you are pregnant isn’t just good for your growing baby, it’s essential to keep your digestive tract moving.
Aim for eight to 10 glasses of water daily. You're on the right track if you frequent the restroom and your urine is clear to pale yellow.
Avoid carbonated beverages, which can cause even more gas and belching and make you more uncomfortable.
2. Skip Artificial Sweeteners
Weight gain is essential for most healthy pregnancies. You can expect to gain between 25 and 30 pounds while pregnant.
Although it can be tempting to cut calories, don’t substitute with foods and drinks that contain artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners are known to produce gas.
Additionally, research shows they may be toxic to some healthy gut bacteria, which could cause you to experience even more gastrointestinal discomfort.
3. Exercise Regularly
If your gassy situation has you intimidated to go to the gym, get outside for a walk. In studies, regular exercise improved colon transit time in women.
Colon transit time is the time it takes for your stool to pass through your large intestine.
Regular exercise is essential to a healthy pregnancy and can help alleviate the discomfort you feel from gas by speeding up a sluggish digestive system.
If your doctor has placed you on limited activity or bed rest, skip this solution and try another.
4. Use a Food Diary
Your gas could be related to a particular food or drink you are consuming.
Keeping a log of the foods you eat and when you experience gas and bloating can help determine if your favorite pregnancy snack makes your stomach rumble.
If you notice you become gassier when you consume complex carbohydrates and some vegetables (like brussels sprouts or broccoli), it’s likely due to the oligosaccharides.
When these carbohydrates are broken down in the small intestine, they naturally produce gas.
If you notice more tummy upset when eating dairy products, try Greek yogurt, which can be more tolerable during pregnancy.
Not everyone will experience gas related to particular foods. Some pregnant people may find they are gassy no matter what they eat.
5. Increase Your Fiber
Increasing fiber seems a little counterproductive since it can naturally make you gassy. However, fiber is essential to your digestive system and helps improve its function.
If you are experiencing gas because of slow digestion and constipation, increasing your fiber could be the perfect solution to get your digestive system back on track.
Try adding more whole grains for a fiber boost.
If you want to consider taking an over-the-counter fiber supplement, talk to your doctor first to see if it's a safe option for your pregnancy and which supplement they recommend.
Other over-the-counter options include simethicone (for gas) and antacids (for heartburn). Always consult your healthcare provider when making these calls.
6. Consider a Stool Softener
Stool softeners are mild and help send fluid to the intestine to soften the stool and help it pass more easily. Your doctor may have suggested a stool softener as part of your post-natal care routine.
Stool softeners can help relieve constipation without cramping and bloating. Avoid laxatives, as they can be unsafe to take while pregnant.
7. Try Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga helps you stretch and stay limber during pregnancy, but some of the poses are also known for helping alleviate gas pain!
While you probably don’t want to test the gas-relieving ability of these poses in your next prenatal yoga class, you can certainly try them at home to get relief.
- Child’s pose. Start on all fours with your legs slightly apart. Move your hands forward and your body back as far as possible, while resting your head on your mat.
- Yogi squat. With your legs shoulder-width apart, gradually lower yourself into a squat, keeping your hands together in prayer and your elbows pressing against your inner knees.
- Knee to chest pose. While lying on your back, bend your legs at the knees and bring them into your chest. If you are further in your pregnancy, bring your knees closer to your armpits.
8. Eat Smaller Meals
Eating three meals a day may be your norm, but it can also wreak havoc on your digestive system.
Large meals take longer to digest and spend more time in your digestive tract leading to excess gas and bloating.
Instead, try breaking each meal into two for a total of six small meals per day.
Smaller meals spaced an hour or two apart can allow your digestive tract to play “catch up” and digest your food more quickly than larger meals.
9. Choose Comfortable Clothing
Maternity fashion has come a long way, but nothing beats feeling comfortable, especially when you are feeling gassy.
Make sure your maternity clothes offer support for your belly while still allowing you to feel comfortable and non-restricted.
10. Accept It
Gas is a part of life even when you aren’t pregnant, with the average non-pregnant person passing gas at least 18 times daily.
Pregnant people pass more gas, but this is a part of everyone’s life.
Pregnancy can feel overwhelming, and learning to relax and allow your body to change can be challenging.
Your body is doing amazing work while you are pregnant, and gas is an inconvenient but necessary part of the process.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
Even though gas is common, it could indicate a more significant problem when accompanied by other symptoms. Call your OB-GYN (obstetrician) immediately if you have gas along with:
- Severe stomach cramping that lasts for longer than thirty minutes
- Constipation that lasts more than one week
- Blood in your stool
- Nausea, vomiting, or fever
- Diarrhea that lasts longer than 48 hours
Your doctor can determine the proper course of action and whether or not you need an evaluation.
Healthy Pregnancies Are Gassy Pregnancies
Parts of having a healthy pregnancy aren’t very glamorous, and gas is one of those parts.
Try one of the above solutions if you find yourself incredibly uncomfortable due to constipation and gas.
If you still aren’t getting relief, talk to your doctor about other options you might have.
For more information on pregnancy and to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about pregnancy, check out our blog.
Staying healthy during your pregnancy may not always feel comfortable, but trusting the process can help give you stamina until your baby arrives.