Gas during pregnancy is a very common occurrence — but not one that many women even think about when they first learn that they are expecting a baby! This article will help you learn more about why this happens and what to do about it, as well as when you should talk to your doctor.
What Causes Gas During Pregnancy?
Unfortunately, some of the changes that take place in your body while you are pregnant make it more likely that you will have problems with gas! One of the most common reasons is that moms-to-be have a lot more progesterone circulating in their bloodstream. One side effect of progesterone is that it relaxes muscles all over the body, including the muscles which control peristalsis, or the movement of food through the digestive tract. In other words, progesterone slows peristalsis and causes you to take longer to digest food. This slower movement can easily lead to constipation — which in turn leads to gas.
Another reason for this problem? As the baby gets bigger, the uterus will too. It can start putting pressure on the intestines and colon. The bad news is that this problem will get worse as the pregnancy advances. This pressure can make it hard to have a bowel movement. In turn, this back-up can also cause gas.
What are Some At-Home Remedies?
This problem is no fun. However, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to treat it safely and naturally right at home. The best treatments include:
- Good hydration. Most doctors recommend that women who are pregnant should try for 8-10 8-ounce glasses of water or other healthy fluids every day. Why does this help? If you are dehydrated, your body will reabsorb more fluids from your intestines. This can result in stool that is hard and difficult or painful to pass — as well as a lot of gas. You should also avoid fizzy drinks or carbonated beverages as these can increase gas and bloating.
- A sensible diet. Nutrition is always an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Treating gas is no exception! Getting fiber in your diet from sources like fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, is an excellent way to bulk up stools and make them easier to pass. However, be careful. Some otherwise healthy foods like beans or broccoli can cause a LOT of gas in some people. Find out what foods make you gassy and avoid them.
- Taking time. It’s not just what you eat and drink that matters — but how fast. Take it slow. Chew your food well before swallowing and don’t gulp drinks. Using a straw and sipping on liquids throughout the day can help decrease the chances you will get gassy.
- Use stool softeners. Sometimes using over-the-counter stool softeners like psyllium fiber, cascara, or senna can help to relieve gas caused by constipation. However, it is always good to talk to your doctor ahead of time to find out which one would be right for you — and safe for the baby. Generally, doctors will not recommend stimulant laxatives, which act on the intestines to help increase peristalsis and make is easier to have a bowel movement.
- Just breathe! Stress can make digestive problems like gas a lot worse. So whether it’s taking a walk, doing deep breathing exercises, or getting into your favorite yoga pose, keeping the stress at bay will keep the gas at bay as well.
What Should You Call the Doctor For?
While gas and bloating is usually something you can take care of at home, there are times when you should definitely call your doctor just to be on the safe side. Symptoms to report include:
- Abdominal pain that is severe and does not go away after 30 minutes.
- Gas pain and bloating that is not responding to the home treatments listed above.
- No bowel movements for a week.
- Other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or fever.
While gas during pregnancy is no fun, it usually is not serious. The good news is that with many of these home remedies, you can get it more or less under control.