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Pregnancy Bloating

Pregnancy Bloating

Are you feeling prematurely puffy? Are your jeans fitting snugly long before you expected to break out the maternity pants? Have you become unusually gassy—like, frat boy levels of flatulence?

 

No, it’s not just your imagination. And it’s not just you, either. Pregnancy bloat, even in early pregnancy, is extremely common. It’s also uncomfortable and—when accompanied by its best buddy, gas—often embarrassing.

 

But don’t worry! Kicking bloating and gas to the curb entirely may be Mission Impossible, but we’ve got all the information you need to make these unpleasant symptoms more manageable.

 

For now, unbutton those too-snug pants, kick back, and relax as we dive into some helpful info.

 

In this article:

 

What Causes Pregnancy Bloating?

If you’re looking for a scapegoat for your pregnancy bloat, the culprit is the pregnancy hormone progesterone. Progesterone is vital for a healthy pregnancy, but it can also be a pain (literally).

 

That’s because progesterone relaxes the smooth muscle tissue in your body, including the gastrointestinal tract. This slows down digestion, allowing more nutrients to reach your baby. Awesome! But slower digestion also causes cramps, bloating, gas, and discomfort. Much less awesome, right?

 

Making matters worse, your uterus joins the party later in your pregnancy. As your uterus expands, it crowds the abdominal cavity, slowing digestion even more. It also puts pressure on your rectum, resulting in some serious flatulence. Who knew pregnancy could be so beautiful?

 

And if you’re expecting twins, note that double the fun means double the gas and bloating! Your body will be producing more progesterone, and your uterus will be expanding more too.

 

How To Prevent Gas In Pregnancy

As an expectant mother, you thought you’d be glowing—but it seems like you’re mostly just gassy. The extra burping and flatulence that accompany pregnancy certainly aren’t glamorous, and they can even be downright embarrassing.

 

First, try to remind yourself that gassiness is a natural part of pregnancy. And your body is growing a whole human! Can you really blame it for tooting its own horn?

 

Jokes aside, there are a few simple steps you can take to get your gassiness under control:

  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid bottles and straws, taking small sips from a glass or cup. Aim for eight to ten 8-ounce glasses daily. Drink more throughout the day and less during meals. This keeps things moving through your digestive system.
  • Track your diet. If gas is really driving you crazy, get a journal and write down the foods you eat each day. Tracking your diet can help you determine which foods cause the most flatulence. Common culprits include peas, beans, onions, rich sauces, and a variety of green vegetables. (Of course, foods like beans and green veggies are your friends, so don’t eliminate them entirely!)
  • Avoid the following: Carbonated drinks, fatty fried foods, artificial sweeteners and refined sugars, tight clothing, and chewing gum or hard candies. If you must indulge—don’t worry, we get it—try to enjoy these foods in moderation.
  • Get moving. Exercise helps stimulate digestion. True, exercise may be the last thing you want to do right now, but it’s great for you and your growing baby. Even a brisk walk around the block helps! If you’re having a hard time getting motivated, try finding a fitness buddy or making a fun, upbeat exercise playlist.

Despite your best efforts, windy conditions will always be on the forecast during pregnancy. Still, following these tips can reduce your gassiness to manageable levels. And if it’s still an issue for you, talk with your doctor to see if you can safely take an over-the-counter gas remedy.

 pregnant woman drinking water

 

How To Relieve Bloating During Pregnancy

Of course, gas isn’t the only inconvenience you want to address. Bloating is sometimes painful, leaving you with a constant ate-too-much feeling. Plus, you probably feel like your baby belly is big enough as it is. Luckily, many of the strategies that relieve gas also take care of its pesky pal, bloating.

 

A few other helpful tips include:

  • Instead of eating large meals, eat several smaller meals throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to sit up when you’re eating, even if it’s just a little snack.
  • Add high-fiber foods to your diet, like bananas, prunes, figs, and whole grains like flax meal and oats. This helps reduce constipation, which often contributes to bloating. Proceed with caution, though. A sudden jump in your fiber intake can also lead to gas, so introduce it gradually if your diet isn’t already fiber-filled.
  • Take bitters in small amounts too, such as lemon juice in hot water, ginger, and bitter salad leaves like rocket and radicchio. This can stimulate digestion, especially if you consume them about half an hour before your usual meals.
  • Slow down. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly. Be mindful at your meals, rather than multitasking or eating while distracted. Scarfing your lunch in three minutes flat can result in gas bubbles and bloating. Plus, you deserve to enjoy calm, relaxing meals. Kick your feet up and savor it!
  • Try to relax. Yes, that’s much easier said than done during pregnancy. But some people swallow more air when they’re anxious or excited, which plays a role in that “hot air balloon” feeling. Work on taking deep, calming breaths, and consider meditating or taking up prenatal yoga.

Bloating isn’t fun, but take comfort in knowing that there’s plenty you can do to curb it (beyond just unbuttoning your pants). It’s also helpful to know that your baby is blissfully unaware of the bloating, gas, cramping, and resulting discomfort.

 

When Do You Stop Feeling Bloated During Pregnancy?

Bloating usually begins around Week 10 or 11 of your pregnancy—and sometimes even earlier. It ranks up there with nausea as one of the most common symptoms shared by pregnant women around the globe.

 

So, when does it end? Go ahead and take one of those deep, calming breaths, because you probably aren’t going to like this answer: Bloating lasts for pretty much your entire pregnancy. As the uterus expands, in fact, that bloated feeling often gets worse.

 

But this too, shall pass. And when it’s over, you’ll have a precious baby in your arms as a reward for handling it like the boss you are.

 

When To Call Your Doctor

Gas and bloating are typical of any healthy pregnancy. But if they’re especially severe or accompanied by other symptoms, you should give your doctor a call. These other symptoms include:

  • Severe nausea and vomiting
  • Severe constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Excessive abdominal pain and cramping, especially increasing pain/cramping
  • Contractions prior to 36 weeks of pregnancy
  • Blood in the stool

You can also call your doctor if you’re finding the bloating and gas unbearably uncomfortable. Ask if there are any prescription or over the counter medications you can take to relieve your symptoms. Feel free to ask for dietary suggestions too.

 

If you’re at all worried, never hesitate to call your doctor. You aren’t being a nuisance, and your baby feels what you feel. So, if what you’re feeling is stress or anxiety, it’s important to put your mind at ease.

 

With that in mind, don’t feel too embarrassed or self-conscious about your bloated belly or your frat boy flatulence. Every mom in the world can relate, and you’re doing the super important, super challenging work of growing a tiny human. Nobody is judging you for a fart or two! Enjoy your pregnancy as much as you can, and remember that there’s a beautiful baby waiting for you at the end of it.

 

Office On Women's Health, Body changes and discomforts, January 2019.

Merriam-Webster, Bloat, 2019.

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

National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Management Strategies for Abdominal Bloating and Distension, September 2014.

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

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  • Ashley Cullins
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