Gas During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention
Gas during pregnancy is a frequent occurrence, which also means that gas during pregnancy is a common concern. The typical person will pass gas approximately 18 times a day. The reason for this is that the average person produces up to 4 pints of gas daily.
For some, gas is the bloating feeling that is sometimes called indigestion. However, for most it is the passing of gas. Gas is frequently referred to as “farting,” but professionally it is known as flatulence. Gas looks to escape the body; sometimes this is through flatulence, whereas other times it may be through belching or burping.
What causes gas during pregnancy?
The buildup of gas happens whether you are pregnant or not. However, you may discover more challenges with gas once you discover you are pregnant. One of the key contributing factors to experiencing more gas during pregnancy is the increased levels of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that causes the muscles throughout your body to relax.
Subsequently, your intestinal muscles relax more, which causes your digestion to slow down. The transient time through the intestine can increase by 30%. This allows gas to build up easier and creates bloating, burping and of course flatulence. Gas during pregnancy can also increase later in pregnancy when the enlarging uterus places pressure on your abdominal cavity. This pressure can also slow digestion allowing gas to build up.
Unfortunately, the progesterone induced muscle relaxation makes it harder to control the release of gas. Don’t be surprised if you ended up passing gas in an awkward situation creating a little embarrassment. Just laugh it off and blame it on the baby.
How can you prevent gas during pregnancy
It is pretty much impossible to prevent gas during pregnancy. However, there are steps you can take to manage the gas you experience. Your primary objective is making it happen less often.
Certain foods can be triggers for experiencing gas during pregnancy. If it is really bothering you, you may want to start a diary tracking the food you eat daily. This can help you identify the foods that cause more gas for you.
Suspicious foods that frequently create gas include beans, peas and whole grains. Unfortunately, there are other healthy foods that can be the cause of your gas. These include broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. The best course of action is to track your diet and make any associations between increased gas and what you eat. Increased gas is triggered by different foods for different people.
The American Pregnancy Association provides the following recommendations for managing, reducing and hopefully preventing extra gas during pregnancy:
- Avoid or reduce carbohydrate drinks
- Avoid fatty fried foods
- Drink from a glass without using a straw
- Focus on smaller meals throughout the day
- Exercise, which will help stimulate digestion
- Avoid tight clothing around your waist
- Limit or avoid artificial sweeteners
- Drink plenty of water, which will help prevent constipation
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
Chewing your food thoroughly is one of the best ways to reduce gas. Most gas is caused by bacteria in the large intestine working to break down food that was not digested thoroughly by enzymes in the stomach. Gas is also related to constipation, so it should prove helpful to learn more about preventing constipation.
Gas during pregnancy and safety precautions
It is important you don’t eliminate everything from your diet that may increase your gas. It is more essential to make sure that you are getting the nutrients you and your baby need for healthy development.
There are no concerns for your baby when it comes to gas during pregnancy. You may not like burping or passing gas, but your baby doesn’t care one bit. As noted above, the most important thing is to eat the foods necessary for providing your baby with the nutrients he/she needs as they grow. Learn more about foods to avoid during pregnancy. Last Updated: 07/2014
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Netter’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, Second Ed. Smith, Roger, Ch. 24.
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy– Ed. Harms, Roger M.D., et al, Section III.