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Gas During Pregnancy: Nope, It’s Not Just You!

Gas During Pregnancy: Nope, It’s Not Just You!

Although pregnancy is often portrayed as a time of glowing skin, an adorable bump, and euphoria, if you’ve been pregnant for any length of time (and by that I mean even, like, a week) you know it’s not all fun and roses.

Pregnancy comes with a lot uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms-- like gas during pregnancy. This annoying, and somewhat embarrassing symptom, is one that is super common and affects most pregnant women.

But why all the sudden gas during pregnancy? Is it normal to be gassy during pregnancy? And most of all, what can you do to get some relief? Read on, mama! We’ve got you (and your excess gas) covered.

 

In this article:

 

What causes gas during pregnancy?

If you’re ever given a quiz on what causes any pregnancy symptom, you’d be right if you guessed the changing hormones 9 out of 10 times. And excess gas during pregnancy is no different. Gas during pregnancy is caused by an increase in the hormone progesterone. Your body starts making extra progesterone as soon as you conceive, which is why bloating and gas are often some of the first pregnancy symptoms that mamas experience.

What does progesterone do? Basically, it causes all of the smooth muscle tissue in your body to relax. This is important as it allows your uterus and baby space to grow. Progesterone also slows down the muscles in your intestinal track, meaning far slower digestion.

This slower digestion does allow your body more time to absorb nutrients for baby which is essential. However, slower digestion also leads to a build-up of gas in your digestive track resulting in bloating, flatulence, burping, gas pains, and even cramping.

What’s more, because your muscles are more relaxed from all this progesterone, it can make it harder to control your gas. This is why so many pregnant mamas find themselves farting and burping in unexpected and sometimes embarrassing situations. We just can’t help it!

 

When will I experience gas during pregnancy?

The short answer is that you will probably be aware of increased gas throughout your entire pregnancy. However, mamas seem to notice it first early in pregnancy and again later in pregnancy.

In early pregnancy, when progesterone is starting to ramp up in your body, you may become more acutely aware of the excess gas and uncomfortable bloating because it is new. However, this will (unfortunately) last until you deliver.

Then, many mamas find it gets a bit more exaggerated during their third trimester when baby and uterus are far bigger. When this happens, baby puts a lot of pressure on and smooshes your intestinal track and other digestive organs which causes added discomfort that can be hard to get relief from.

Lastly, if you are one of the roughly 25% of mamas that experience an iron deficiency during pregnancy and need to take iron supplements, these will add insult to injury. While it is essential to supplement and you will feel so much better, a yucky side effect of iron supplements is constipation and gas.

 

Is it normal to be gassy during pregnancy?

Yes! Gas during pregnancy is very normal. All pregnant women will experience an increase in progesterone, which means we will all have a digestive system working as much as 30% slower than average. And, yup, we will all have a lot of extra gas to show for it.

When is gas during pregnancy not normal or a cause for concern? If you are experiencing sharp pains with your pregnancy gas that last more than 30 minutes, or if you are constipated for more than a week it is worth calling your doctor. Extreme straining to use the bathroom is also worth a call to find out what over the counter remedies are safe for finding relief.

 

How to prevent gas during pregnancy?

Gas during pregnancy does somewhat come with the territory, however there are some strategies to finding relief and minimizing the gas a bit. While none of these will prevent gas during pregnancy entirely, they’ll make it a little more manageable and comfortable.

  • Drink lots of water: staying hydrated is important for many aspects of pregnancy. It will help keep you more regular and lead to less gas
  • Slow down your eating and chew well: this will make it easier for your body to digest food and you will swallow less air with your food which can lead to extra gas bubbles. Furthermore, you will be able to feel fullness more effectively and avoid overeating
  • Move your body and stretch: daily exercise or walking will help keep your digestive system moving and promote regularity. You can also try certain yoga poses that help you pass gas when you are feeling uncomfortable
  • Keep track of your food intake: you may find patterns in your diet that lead to more gas and discomfort during pregnancy even if you aren’t sensitive to those foods when you’re not pregnant
  • Wear loose clothing or pants with a wide waistband: this will keep you more comfortable if nothing else is working

 

We hope you can find relief from your gas during pregnancy, mama!

Now you know that those pesky hormones are largely to blame and that gas during pregnancy is super common. It is one of those symptoms you have to just ride out until your deliver, however the tips mentioned above may help a bit.

Most importantly, you want to aim to keep yourself as regular as possible to manage gas during pregnancy. Don’t be shy about bringing up your gas to your provider at your prenatal appointments. She may have some additional tips or be able to recommend over the counter stool softeners if you need more significant relief.

 

Mayo Clinic, Symptoms of Pregnancy: What Happens First, May 2019.

International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, Understanding Bloating and Distension, August 2018.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Problems of the Digestive System, January 2014.

National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Treating constipation during pregnancy, 2012.

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  • Alli Wittbold
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