Morning sickness, skin changes, swollen feet and fingers are just some of the complaints that pregnant women have. There are others who also experience belching, stomach pain, bloating or gas. That’s because pregnancy can slow digestion, causing gas buildup. It’s all natural, but gas problems can cause discomfort. Let us tell you how to get rid of gas during pregnancy.
Causes of gas during pregnancy
Gas problems, also known as gaseous distension, can cause discomfort for pregnant women, says Dr Pundalik Sonawane, obstetrician and gynaecologist, and professor and head of department, KJSomaiya Medical College Mumbai. Although these problems are common, it can help to know their causes.
1. Hormonal fluctuations
During pregnancy there are significant hormonal changes, the most important of which is progesterone. These hormones relax the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, slowing food absorption through the digestive tract, resulting in gas buildup.
2. Enlargement of the uterus
As the baby grows, the enlargement of the uterus puts pressure on the stomach and intestines. This can lead to slowed digestion and contribute to gas and bloating.
Hormonal changes and the pressure of the growing uterus can contribute to constipation, which can lead to bloating and gas, the expert tells Health Shots.
4. Dietary changes
Pregnancy often results in dietary changes, including increased consumption of fiber-rich foods, which can produce more gas. Also, some foods, such as beans, cabbage and carbonated drinks, are known to cause gas.
5. Swallowed air
Pregnant women may unintentionally swallow more air while eating or drinking, which can contribute to gas and bloating.
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6. Relaxation of the digestive muscles
Hormones that relax the uterine muscles can also relax the muscles in the digestive tract, possibly leading to more gas.
7. Prenatal vitamins
Iron supplements that are often prescribed during pregnancy can sometimes cause constipation and gas as one of the side effects.
Tips to get rid of gas during pregnancy
To reduce discomfort caused by gas during pregnancy, you can do the following:
1. Dietary changes
Eat smaller and more frequent meals to avoid overloading the digestive system. Avoid foods known to cause gas. Reduce the intake of fatty and fried foods, which can cause sluggish digestion. Don’t stop eating fiber-rich foods completely. Gradually increase fiber intake to help prevent constipation, but do so in moderation.
Pregnant or not, staying hydrated is always good. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help prevent constipation and aid digestion, suggests Dr. Sonawane.
3. Chew food thoroughly
Slow down while eating, chew your food thoroughly and enjoy the flavors to reduce the amount of air you swallow while eating.
4. Physical activity
Choose low-impact exercises as recommended by your doctor. Activities such as walking and prenatal yoga can help promote healthy digestion.
Probiotics are known to keep the intestines healthy. Regular intake of probiotics can promote healthy gut bacteria and aid in digestion, says the expert.
Do not lie down immediately after eating. Also try different postures, such as supporting your upper body with pillows while sleeping, to reduce pressure on your digestive organs.
7. Stress reduction
Stress affects your body in many ways, including your stomach. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or prenatal yoga to help manage stress, which can affect your digestion.
You can also ask your doctor if there are any medications or supplements that could contribute to gas or bloating. You should also consult your doctor before taking antacids or gas-blocking medications as some may not be suitable during pregnancy.