- 7 Safe Home Remedies for Gas During Pregnancy
- Why Does Pregnancy Make You Gassy?
- 7 Ways to Ease Your Gas
- When to Call Your Doctor
- Gas During Pregnancy
- Gas During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention
- Healthy Pregnant Women Fart: Doctors on Why Pregnancy Gas Is Good
- Natural Remedies for Gas While Pregnant
- How to Prevent Gas Formation During Pregnancy
- Why do I have so much more gas during pregnancy?
- What causes gas?
- Can I relieve gas by changing my diet?
- What else can I do to relieve gas and bloating during pregnancy?
- Can gas during pregnancy ever be a sign that something is wrong?
- Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy
- Make an Appointment
- What Are Some Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy?
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Hyperemesis Gravidarum
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- What Are Some Causes of Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy?
- How Can Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy Be Treated?
- When Should I see My Doctor for Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy?
- Related Links
- Help! I Have Horrible Gas
- Am I Pregnant? 15 Signs of Early Pregnancy
- Early Signs
- Heartburn and Indigestion During Pregnancy
- Ways to Relieve Your Pain
- Yes, Pregnancy Affects Your Digestion
7 Safe Home Remedies for Gas During Pregnancy
Got gas while pregnant? You’re not alone. Gas is a common (and potentially embarrassing) symptom of pregnancy. You’re likely paying special attention to what you eat and the medications you ingest right now, which often means that typical gas remedies should be shelved for the time being.
Fortunately, there are several home remedies that can help ease any gas troubles you’re having, and some are as easy as reaching for a tall glass of water.
Why Does Pregnancy Make You Gassy?
Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, and unfortunately gas is an uncomfortable result of some very normal body processes, says Sheryl Ross, M.D., an OB/GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
The hormone progesterone is one of the main causes of excess gas during pregnancy. As your body produces more progesterone to support your pregnancy, progesterone relaxes muscles in your body. This includes the muscles of your intestine. Slower moving intestine muscles mean that your digestion slows down. This allows gas to build up, which in turn leads to bloating, burping, and flatulence.
Bodily Changes During Pregnancy
Once you get further along in your pregnancy, the increased pressure from your growing uterus on your abdominal cavity can slow down digestion, leading to more gas. Some foods can also contribute to gas, and your prenatal vitamins (especially the iron component) can cause constipation, leading, you guessed it, to even more gas.
7 Ways to Ease Your Gas
This uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, gas is generally due to constipation, and it can get worse as your pregnancy progresses. Thankfully, there are various things you can do to combat the gas. The more consistent you are with these lifestyle changes, the better results you are likely to see.
1. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Water is your best bet. Aim for eight to 10 8-ounce glasses every day, but other fluids count too. If your gas is causing pain or extreme bloating, you may be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), in which case make sure any juice you drink is low in certain types of gas and bloating-promoting sugars called FODMAPs. Cranberry, grape, pineapple, and orange juice are all considered low-FODMAP juices.
2. Get Moving
Physical activity and exercise should be a part of your daily routine. If you can’t make it to a gym, add a daily walk to your routine. Aim to walk or exercise for at least 30 minutes. Not only can exercise help keep you physically and emotionally fit, it can also help prevent constipation and speed up digestion. Be sure to consult your obstetrician first before starting any exercise regimen during pregnancy.
How to Safely Exercise in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
3. Test Out Your Diet
Try removing potential food triggers from your diet one at a time, until your gas symptoms improve, recommends Brett Worly, M.D., an assistant professor in the OB/GYN department at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. That way, you’re only eliminating foods that are contributing to the problem. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, wheat, and potatoes are common gas culprits, says Worly.
Some women experience IBS during pregnancy, but talk to your doctor and dietitian before starting a low-FODMAP diet. This diet can be very restrictive and put you and your baby at risk for not getting adequate nutrition.
4. Fill Up on Fiber
Many foods that make gas worse in the short term can actually help control constipation. Why? “Fiber brings water into the intestines, softening the stool and allowing it ,” explains Ross.
Try fitting 25 to 30 grams of high-fiber foods into your diet to help ease gas concerns. Many fruits, such as prunes, figs, and bananas, and vegetables, as well as whole grains like oats and flax meal are all good fiber boosters to consider.
5. Ask About Fiber Supplements
If you’re not a fan of high-fiber foods, or you’re looking for a quick and easy alternative, ask your doctor about whether a fiber supplement, such as psyllium (Metamucil), methylcellulose (Citrucel), or polyethylene glycol 3350 (MiraLAX), might benefit you.
Buy Metamucil, Citrucel, or MiraLAX now.
6. …And Stool Softeners
Docusate (Colace), a gentle stool softener, moistens the stool, allowing easier and regular passage. Ross encourages women to take 50 to 100 mg of docusate two times a day throughout the duration of their pregnancy. Just avoid any stimulant laxatives, such as sennosides (Ex-Lax, Senokot), as these can cause complications during pregnancy.
7. When in Doubt, Just Breathe
Anxiety and stress can increase the amount of air you swallow, which may increase upper abdominal gas, bloating, and belching, says Michael R. Berman, M.D., medical director of labor and delivery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. Eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Pass off chores to someone else, or just accept that they aren’t going to get done. Find some quiet time during the day to take some deep breaths and relax, or look into a prenatal spa day. Do whatever you need to do to stay calm.
When to Call Your Doctor
Gas isn’t always a laughing matter. To ensure something more serious isn’t going on, seek immediate medical attention if you have severe pain without improvement for more than 30 minutes, or constipation for more than one week.
Otherwise, choose the remedies that work best for your lifestyle. Then stick with them because consistency is key.
“Pregnancy is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” says Ross. “So pace yourself and keep a healthy and positive attitude as it relates to your diet and exercise.”
Gas During Pregnancy
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.
More Helpful Articles:
- Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy
- Sharp Pain During Pregnancy
- Cesarean Birth After Care
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.
Discharge. It’s normal to see a thin, milky white discharge (called leukorrhea) early in your pregnancy. You can wear a panty liner if it makes you feel more comfortable, but don’t use a tampon because it can introduce germs into the vagina. If the discharge is foul-smelling, green, or yellow, or if there’s a lot of clear discharge, call your doctor.
Fatigue . Your body is working hard to support a growing fetus, which can wear you out more easily than usual. Take naps or rest when you need to throughout the day. Also make sure you’re getting enough iron (too little can lead to anemia, which can cause excess fatigue).
Food cravings and aversions. Although you may not want a bowl of mint chip ice cream topped with dill pickles, as the old stereotype goes, your tastes can change while you’re pregnant. More than 60% of pregnant women experience food cravings, and more than half have food aversions, according to research. Giving in to cravings from time to time is OK, provided you are generally eating healthy, low-calorie foods. The exception is pica — a craving for non-foods like clay, dirt, and laundry starch, which can be dangerous for you and your baby. If you experience this kind of craving, report it to your doctor right away.
Frequent urination . Your baby is still pretty small, but your uterus is growing and it’s putting pressure on your bladder. As a result, you may feel like you constantly have to go to the bathroom. Don’t stop drinking fluids — your body needs them — but do cut down on caffeine (which stimulates the bladder), especially before bedtime. When nature calls, answer it as soon as you can. Don’t hold it in.
Heartburn . During pregnancy, your body produces more of the progesterone hormone which relaxes smooth muscles — including the ring of muscle in your lower esophagus that normally keeps food and acids down in your stomach. This muscle relaxation can lead to acid reflux, otherwise known as heartburn. To avoid the burn, eat frequent, smaller meals throughout the day; don’t lie down right after eating; and avoid greasy, spicy, and acidic foods (like citrus fruits). You can also try raising your pillows when you sleep.
Healthy Pregnant Women Fart: Doctors on Why Pregnancy Gas Is Good
Scientists with unusual research priorities have demonstrated that couples who fart together tend to stay together. That’s good news. The better, stinkier news for expecting parents is that pregnancy is a real gas — and no, you can’t blame the baby kicking. Along with weird cravings, constipation, and roughly a suitcase a piece worth of prenatal vitamins, pregnant women get gas. Thanks to hormonal and physiological changes, women wind up farting for two.
“A number of factors contribute to flatulence during pregnancy,” Dr. Michael Cackovic, an obstetrician-gynecologist at The Ohio State University, explains. “Increased progesterone concentration plays a major role in decreasing the activity of colonic smooth muscle.”
The average person farts up to 20 times a day, passing anywhere from 500 to 1500 milliliters of gas, but for women this number inflates when they get pregnant because their bodies produce more progesterone. Progesterone causes intestine muscles to relax to make room for a growing baby. However, these relaxed muscles make it much easier for farts to slip out. As the fetus grows it puts extra pressure on the abdomen. This contributes to pregnant women not just farting more, but farting more often on accident in inopportune places like at work, with the in-laws, or during an exam from an obstetrician.
Relaxation also makes is harder to push waste through the GI tract, slowing digestion. Prenatal vitamins contribute to further constipation creating a perfect gas storm. Bloating, burping, and farting inevitably follow.
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“Pregnant women often complain of abdominal bloating and constipation likely caused by hormonal changes that affect small bowel and colonic motility,” Cackovic says. “Additionally, the pregnant uterus can cause a mechanical slowing of bowel transit and this certainly could worsen as pregnancy advances into the third trimester.”
Finally, pregnant women’s diets can further contribute to excessive farts, but it’s not necessarily strange cravings for pickles and ice cream that do it. Rather, healthy dietary changes brought on by having a baby, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, can increase gas — especially if women were eating carelessly prior to pregnancy.
Gas is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Farts just are. But, for pregnant women, build up can become harmful. If women are experiencing abdominal pain or constipation for over a week, they should contact their doctors. Still, excessive gas passing is nothing to worry about and poses no danger to a growing baby. That said, moms-to-be can reduce some of their discomfort by drinking plenty of water, getting enough exercise and sleep, and limiting dairy, pork, and processed foods, which can make flatulence worse.
As powerful and plentiful as pregnancy farts are, they’re ultimately a symptom that pregnancy is progressing in a healthy way. So they should be welcomed with plugged noses and open arms. Small adjustments might offer relief, but nothing helps more than having a supportive partner farting by their side, Cackovic adds.
“Reassurance over the temporary inconvenience and support are the keys to getting through this.”
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Last Updated on November 7, 2019
If you are pregnant, you must be excited and happy. You might be feeling on the top of the world, but at the same time, you might be worried about your baby too. Pregnancy can bring about a lot of changes in your body and these changes can make you uncomfortable at times. Sometimes, you may feel bloated and have gastric trouble, which can make you uncomfortable. But, do you know why you have gastric problems during pregnancy? If not, then read on. The primary reasons for gastric issues are listed below:
1. Hormonal Imbalance
Progesterone hormone is one of the main causes of gas and flatulence during pregnancy. In pregnancy, the hormone progesterone is released excessively, which can relax your muscles. When the muscles of your intestine relax too, your digestion process will slow down considerably. The consumed food remains in the digestive tract for a long period, which causes bloating and frequent flatulence in pregnant women.
2. Gestational Diabetes
During pregnancy, a woman’s blood sugar levels are usually high. High blood sugar during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, you may feel bloated. This problem generally appears in the second half of pregnancy.
3. Weight Gain
During pregnancy, you will want to eat something every few hours. As a result, you might snack on and eat frequently. If you don’t exercise and keep eating, you might put on weight. This might make you feel bloated.
4. Bodily Changes During Pregnancy
Bodily changes during pregnancy can also lead to gas. As you near the term, the pressure from growing uterus on the abdominal cavity can slow down the digestion process, which can lead to gas.
5. Consuming Gassy Foods
There are certain foods that are known to cause excess gas. If you consume fried foods, dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, or carbonated drinks during pregnancy, you might feel gassy and bloated.
Natural Remedies for Gas While Pregnant
An average person passes gas about 15-20 times every day. But during pregnancy, this number almost doubles which could cause some inconvenience and embarrassment. In order to tackle gastric problems during pregnancy, you can try some natural remedies. These remedies are effective and can be implemented with ease. Here are a few natural remedies to treat the gas problem.
1. Increase Your Water Intake
Keep yourself hydrated by drinking a lot of water at regular intervals during the day. In fact, begin your day by drinking a glass of water and keep a bottle of this naturally-rejuvenating fluid handy. Keep sipping water throughout the day. You can also drink pasteurised fruit juices as drinking juices help in removing toxins from the body and prevent bloating.
2. Eat Fibre-Rich Foods
Add carrots, apples, oatmeal, leafy vegetables, and pears to your diet as they help in absorbing water from the digestive system. Fibre moves the food through the intestines with ease. Eating fibre-rich foods will make your bowel movements regular and you won’t feel bloated. A word of caution – if your system is not used to eating high fibre foods much, add fibre-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet slowly.
3. Have Small Meals
Instead of having three heavy meals a day, you can split them up into six smaller meals over the day. Eat your meals at a leisurely pace. Do not gulp down the food – chew it properly before taking the next spoonful. Also, avoid fried and unhealthy food.
4. Try Fenugreek Seeds
Drinking water infused with fenugreek seeds is an age-old remedy for gas. It is a tried and tested solution to control gas during pregnancy. You can take a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds and soak it in a glass of water overnight. Filter the seeds from the water and drink the water to reduce flatulence.
5. How About Some Lemon Juice?
Squeeze a whole lemon into a bowl and add one cup of water and half a spoon of baking soda to it. Keep stirring until the baking soda dissolves completely. Drink this to get quick relief from gas and other gastric problems. Drinking lemon juice with warm water early in the morning can provide relief from stomach pain too.
6. Drink Herbal Teas
This is an extremely popular home remedy for tackling gastric problems during pregnancy. Peppermint leaf, blackberry, and red raspberry teas are known to aid the digestion process. Do not boil the herbal tea too much as this can destroy the healing properties it possesses. Peppermint leaf tea, in particular, provides relief from gas during pregnancy. Add honey to it and drink it twice a day. You can drink two to three cups of any 1 herbal tea during pregnancy daily. However, don’t drink too much as it can lead to other complications in pregnancy.
7. Try Coriander
Coriander is a natural remedy for gas and bloating. Coriander leaves also help with acidity and burning sensation in the stomach. To keep the problem of indigestion and gas at bay, add roasted coriander seeds to a glass of buttermilk and drink. You can also garnish your food with coriander to include it in your diet.
8. Drink Warm Water
Indigestion and other gastric problem can be effectively tackled by drinking warm water every day. Drinking a glass of warm water daily will keep your digestive system on track and ensure proper bowel movements. If you are having a meal at a restaurant or a party, make it a point to drink a glass of warm water (squeeze half a lemon if possible) after your meals.
9. Include Drumsticks in Your Diet
This fibrous vegetable is a necessary addition to your meal, especially if you are constipated or are passing hard stools. Since the bowel movements are irregular, there are chances of excess gas formation in your body. Drumsticks can increase roughage content in your food and improve your stomach health to a great extent.
10. Eat Healthy Foods
Pregnancy is the time when you should carefully monitor your diet and eat only healthy foods. Fresh foods are always considered best during this time as compared to processed foods or frozen foods. Organic foods that are free of pesticides should be preferred during pregnancy. These will reduce the chances of indigestion and flatulence in a completely natural way.
11. Practice Yoga and Exercise
Get moving as sitting around the entire day can result in the excess formation of gas. Light exercises, like a walk in the park, especially in the morning or after dinner, can prove to be ideal for pregnant women. Avoid any kind of strenuous exercises. Opt for yoga instead and seek professional help to perform yoga. Taking up light physical exercises can also help you get rid of gas and other gastric problems during pregnancy.
12. Dress Comfortably
Wearing tight clothes during pregnancy can put pressure on your abdomen, which can increase the buildup of gas, making you feel uncomfortable. So during pregnancy, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy, wear loose and comfortable clothes.
How to Prevent Gas Formation During Pregnancy
Here are some tips that can help you manage, reduce, and prevent the occurrence of gas problem during pregnancy.
1. Avoid Consuming Refined Sugars
If you can find a way to reduce the craving for sweetened food and drinks, you will do yourself a great favour. Fructose, which is usually found in artificially-flavoured fruit juices and beverages can cause bloating and gas. So avoid flavoured drinks and carbonated drinks. You should also avoid chewing gums and lozenges as they contain sorbitol which can make you feel bloated.
2. Limit the Consumption of Fried Foods
Avoid eating fried foods, like chips and fries; although they may not directly release gas, they might leave you feeling bloated as the digestion process is considerably slow during pregnancy. Also, foods like beans, onions, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can cause gastric problems, so limit their consumption in pregnancy.
3. Do Not Stress
Many women tend to have the problem of gas when they are stressed. When stressed or nervous, you might breathe quickly and gulp down too much air, which can lead to gas. Stress-related gas is also a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you have IBS during pregnancy, you might also experience some other symptoms of it like, bloating, constipation, or abdominal cramps. So, it is important that you learn to manage stress during pregnancy. You can try relaxation techniques, like meditation or yoga to feel calm or relaxed.
If you are worried that gastric problem can cause harm to your baby, then don’t, because your baby will be fine. The amniotic fluid will protect your baby from any harm that may come his way. Gas and bloating is a common problem during pregnancy but it won’t affect the health of your baby. Moreover, to keep this problem at bay, avoid eating fried and sugary foods and stay hydrated. However, if you are already facing this problem, then try the remedies mentioned above, you will feel a lot better. Have a relaxed and happy pregnancy. In case, there is spotting or abdominal cramping after passing gas or stomach pain, speak to your doctor immediately.
Also Read: Gas and Bloating During Pregnancy
Why do I have so much more gas during pregnancy?
The main reason your body makes more gas during pregnancy is because you have much more progesterone, a hormone that relaxes muscles throughout your body, including your digestive tract. These relaxed muscles slow down digestion, which can lead to gas, bloating, burping, and flatulence, and generally create uncomfortable sensations in your gut, especially after a big meal.
People normally pass gas a dozen or so times a day. But when you’re pregnant, you may belch or pass gas much more often, or have to unbutton your pants to relieve bloating, even weeks before you begin to show. Later in pregnancy, your growing uterus crowds your abdominal cavity, further slowing digestion, and pushes on your stomach, making you feel even more bloated after eating.
This is why you may also have heartburn or constipation during pregnancy, even if you’ve never been bothered by these conditions before.
What causes gas?
Gas gets caught in the digestive tract in two ways: when you swallow air and when bacteria in your large intestine (colon) break down undigested food. Most stomach gas results from swallowing air and is typically released by burping, though a small amount continues down to the large intestine and is released when you fart. Most of the gas that causes flatulence is produced when bacteria in the large intestine break down food that was incompletely digested by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine.
Certain carbohydrates are the main culprits of flatulence. Protein and fats produce little gas directly, although fats can contribute to a sense of bloating and gassiness because they slow down digestion.
Some people get a lot of gas from foods that don’t bother others at all. For example, people with lactose intolerance get bloated and gassy after having dairy products like milk or ice cream. That’s because they don’t make enough lactase – the enzyme that breaks down the sugar (lactose) in dairy products. The balance of bacteria in the colon, which varies from person to person, may also affect how much gas you make.
Can I relieve gas by changing my diet?
Yes. Cutting back on the foods that are most likely to cause gas is usually the most effective way to reduce it. But eliminating everything that might cause gas would make it hard to eat a balanced diet.
Start by cutting out foods most likely to cause gas and bloating. If that gives you relief, begin adding those foods back into your diet one by one to try to pinpoint what’s causing the problem. Keeping a food diary can help you figure out if certain foods seem to cause more gas than others.
Some common causes of gas include:
- Beans, whole grains, and certain vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus. These all contain the sugar raffinose, which makes a lot of people gassy.
- Fructose. This form of sugar occurs naturally in certain foods, specifically leeks, onions, artichokes, dried fruit, canned tomatoes, ketchup, pears, apples, honey, wheat, and fruit juice. High fructose corn syrup is a form of fructose that’s frequently added to processed foods and many sodas and fruit drinks. (Carbonation can also contribute to bloating.)
- Certain starches such as wheat, corn, and potatoes (but not rice).
- Some fiber-rich foods such as oat bran, beans, peas, and many kinds of fruit. These foods are normally broken down in the large intestine, leading to gas. Wheat bran, however, basically passes through your digestive system without getting broken down, so it’s a good choice if you’re constipated and want to add more fiber without risking more flatulence.
- Dairy products. People who are lactose intolerant get gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain from eating dairy products. If you’re only mildly lactose intolerant, you might not have noticed any symptoms – until you boosted your consumption of dairy products during pregnancy. If you suspect dairy products are the problem, try lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soy milk. (If you aren’t drinking any kind of milk, you’ll probably need to take a calcium supplement. Also, ask your provider if you’re getting enough vitamin D from your prenatal vitamin.)
- High-fat and fried foods
What else can I do to relieve gas and bloating during pregnancy?
In addition to adjusting your diet, try a few of these other suggestions:
- Don’t eat big meals. Instead, eat several small meals throughout the day.
- Take your time and chew thoroughly. Don’t talk while you’re eating.
- Limit how much you drink during meals. Drink regularly throughout the day instead.
- Drink from a cup or glass – not from a bottle or through a straw – and don’t gulp.
- Don’t drink carbonated beverages.
- Don’t drink anything sweetened with the artificial sweetener sorbitol.
- Don’t chew gum or suck on hard candies.
- Sit up while you’re eating or drinking, even if you’re just having a small snack.
- Get moving. Even a brisk walk can help a sluggish digestive tract.
- Prevent or treat constipation because it can add to flatulence and a feeling of abdominal bloating.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking not only contributes to many serious health problems, it also boosts stomach acidity. (Try to quit before getting pregnant. If you’re having trouble, ask your provider to refer you to a program that can help.)
- Try prenatal yoga to learn relaxation and good breathing techniques. Some people tend to swallow more air when they’re excited or anxious.
If these tips don’t help, ask your healthcare provider whether you can take an over-the-counter gas remedy that contains simethicone. (Don’t take activated charcoal tablets without first checking with your healthcare provider because they may not be safe during pregnancy.)
Can gas during pregnancy ever be a sign that something is wrong?
Yes. Call your provider if your intestinal discomfort ever feels more like abdominal pain or cramping, or if you also have blood in your stool, severe diarrhea, constipation, or nausea and vomiting.
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Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy
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Gastrointestinal (GI) issues are some of the most common complaints during pregnancy. Some women may experience GI issues that develop after becoming pregnant. Gastrointestinal problems affect the gastrointestinal tract, primarily the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum, but can also affect other organs of digestion, including the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Some women may have chronic GI disorders prior to pregnancy that can worsen and require special consideration during pregnancy.
Some of the most common gastrointestinal issues women experience during pregnancy are nausea and vomiting, hyperemesis gravidarum, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gallstones, diarrhea, and constipation. Some women may have been diagnosed prior to pregnancy with GI disorders such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. It is also possible to have had these underlying conditions but they had been undiagnosed until pregnancy made them more apparent.
What Are Some Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy?
Because there is a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, the symptoms vary. Some of the most common gastrointestinal problems and their symptoms include the following.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea occurs in 91 percent of pregnant women in the first trimester, usually in the first 6 to 8 weeks, and can often be accompanied by vomiting. In mild cases, it is referred to as morning sickness. However, it can become severe and require treatment to manage.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is characterized by uncontrollable and severe nausea and vomiting that leads to fluid and electrolyte imbalance. Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum can include:
- Uncontrollable vomiting
- Severe and persistent nausea
- Weight loss
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Food aversions
- Decrease in urination
- Extreme fatigue
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs early in the first trimester of pregnancy, typically around weeks 4 to 10. Symptoms usually resolve by weeks 18 to 20. However, if your symptoms are severe, call your doctor. Many of the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum can adversely affect your pregnancy and health, and may require treatment.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is common in pregnancy, typically during the first or second trimester. It affects the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, and causes heartburn or acid indigestion. Symptoms can include:
- Burning in the chest or throat
- Chest pain
- Regurgitation of food or acid
- Bitter or acidic taste in the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry cough
- Hoarseness or sore throat
- Sensation of a lump in your throat
While GERD is not often a severe disorder and can be managed through lifestyle modification, if you experience it during your first pregnancy, it often recurs in later pregnancies.
Pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of gallstone formation. The risk for developing gallstones is highest in the second or third trimester and during the postpartum period. Gallstones occur when substances in bile, which is released into the intestines to aid in digestion, becomes too concentrated and forms a hard stone. Gallstones themselves may cause no signs or symptoms. However, if they become lodged in a bile duct or cause a blockage, they can cause noticeable symptoms, which include:
- Sudden and intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
- Sudden and intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, below your breastbone
- Back pain between your shoulder blades
- Pain in your right shoulder
- Persistent pain in any of the above areas that lasts for 30 minutes or longer
- Nausea or vomiting
- Other digestive problems, including bloating, indigestion, heartburn, and gas
Gallstones can cause serious complications. Call you doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain so intense that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
- Jaundice, or the yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes
- High fever with chills
Diarrhea is a common condition during pregnancy that causes loose or watery stools. It is most commonly caused by viruses or bacteria, but can also be caused by certain medications. Symptoms associated with diarrhea can include:
- Abdominal cramps or pain
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
While diarrhea is common and generally not serious, you should call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms along with diarrhea:
- Blood or mucus in your stool
- Weight loss
This could be a sign of a more serious condition. If you experience diarrhea, make sure you are staying hydrated. Diarrhea can cause dehydration, which can lead to other health complications.
Constipation is having infrequent bowel movement, difficulty having bowel movements, or having hard to pass bowel movements. It is generally described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. As your baby grows, pressure from the enlarging uterus on the rectum and lower part of the intestine may cause constipation. It may be worsened by high levels of progesterone, which can slow the muscle contractions in the intestine. Some of the symptoms of constipation include:
- Having lumpy, small or hard stools
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Feeling as if a blockage is preventing bowel movements
- Feeling as if you can’t completely empty the bowel
- Bloating in the stomach, or stomach pain
While constipation is common and generally not serious, you should call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Blood in your stool
- Weight loss
- Severe pain with bowel movements
- Constipation that lasts more than 2 weeks
Constipation can also cause hemorrhoids — which are swollen veins in or around the anus. Straining to have a bowel movement or passing hard stool can cause these veins to swell. However, pregnancy alone can cause hemorrhoids to develop, as a growing baby can put pressure on the lower rectum. Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- Bleeding during bowel movements, with bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet
- Itching or irritation at the opening of the rectum
- Pain or discomfort
- Swelling around the anus
- A lump near the anus, which may be sensitive or painful
Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
There are several different types of colitis, a condition that causes an inflammation of the bowel. Different types include:
- Infectious colitis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Ischemic colitis
- Radiation colitis
The symptoms can vary depending on the type. However, some common symptoms of colitis include:
- Diarrhea, with or without blood in the stool
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal cramps
- Urgent and frequent need to empty the bowels
IBS affects the large intestine and causes the colon muscle to contract more often than normal. Symptoms of IBS can include:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Excess gas
- Change in bowel habits such as harder, looser, or more urgent stools than normal
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea
These conditions are often diagnosed prior to becoming pregnant and may worsen during pregnancy. They can cause difficulty in becoming pregnant or cause complications during pregnancy. Speak with your doctor if you have these conditions and are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. They can help you take measures and considerations to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
What Are Some Causes of Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy?
While many gastrointestinal issues are very common, you may not have experienced any before becoming pregnant. Because they vary, the causes can vary as well. Some common causes or risk factors of gastrointestinal conditions during pregnancy can include:
- Changes in hormones
- GI motility disorders
- Certain medications
- Poor diet
- Thyroid disorders
- Physical internal changes as the uterus grows
- Lack of exercise or activity
- History of overusing laxatives
- Taking antacid medicines containing calcium or aluminum
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Food intolerance or allergy
How Can Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy Be Treated?
Gastrointestinal issues are common during pregnancy and, for the most part, do not cause a serious health risk. However, if you experience any symptoms, you should inform your doctor. He or she will be able to help you manage your symptoms, monitor you for worsening symptoms and determine if additional treatment is required. Different gastrointestinal issues respond to different treatments, so your doctor will be able to suggest the best option for you.
Making changes at home can also help you manage your symptoms. Some of these changes include:
Eat a healthy diet: Changing what, how often, and how much you eat can help manage or relieve your GI symptoms. Depending on your issue, you may need to increase the amount of fiber in your diet, avoid sugary, processed foods, or limit the amount of caffeine and dairy in your intake. Ask to speak with a registered dietitian to determine an individualized healthy eating plan that would most benefit you.
Drink lots of fluids: Increase the amount of fluids you take in, including water, fruit juice and clear soups. Getting lots of fluids can help your digestion and keep your GI tract moving regularly. Certain GI issues can also cause you to become dehydrated, so taking in fluids is very important to avoid any additional health issues cause by dehydration.
Exercise: Regular exercise boosts blood circulation and brings more oxygen to organs, including the bowels, to help them move efficiently and smoothly. Aim for at least two and a half hours a week of moderate exercise, or 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Speak with your doctor to find the best workouts that would be safe and appropriate for you.
Medication: If your GI symptoms are severe, persistent, or unmanageable with lifestyle modification, your doctor may prescribe medication, which may include antacids, digestive enzymes, antidiarrheals, GI stimulants, and antiemetics, among others. Your doctor will prescribe you the safest medication at the most appropriate dosage.
When Should I see My Doctor for Gastrointestinal Issues During Pregnancy?
Even if you experience only mild symptoms of gastrointestinal issues, it is important to inform your doctor. He or she can recommend the best methods to manage those symptoms and can then monitor you throughout your pregnancy for worsening symptoms.
If your symptoms are severe, become severe, and are persistent or prolonged, call your doctor right away. You should call your doctor and seek immediate medical care if you experience:
- Vomiting blood
- Bloody or black stools
- Dramatic weight loss
- Severe discomfort that interferes with daily activities
- Episodes of choking
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing
- Extreme fatigue
- Learn more about Multidisciplinary Obstetric Medicine Service (MOMS) at Lifespan
- Explore the Noreen Stonor Drexel Birthing Center at Newport Hospital
- Learn about Women’s Primary Care at Lifespan
- Find about the Newport Women’s Health Center
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Services at Lifespan
Help! I Have Horrible Gas
I’m passing gas all the time. It’s so embarrassing! What’s going on?
Thought that gas passing was a guy’s sport? Welcome to the team. During pregnancy, women join the often-rank ranks of frat boys (and OPEC) as top gas producers. Not that it’ll make you feel any better (or less embarrassed), but when your expectant body inadvertently toots its own horn, it’s for some very valid physiological reasons. For one, during pregnancy, large amounts of the hormones relaxin and progesterone loosen up the muscles in your body — including those in your gastrointestinal tract. This causes food to move more slowly through your system. Good for baby (since it allows more nutrients to be absorbed), bad for you and anyone within sniffing distance (since it causes all kinds of indigestion, including gas). For another: Your expanding uterus weighs more and more heavily on your rectum, which can wreak havoc on muscle control. Which means that all your good intentions, self-control, and butt-squeezing may not be able to contain the wind, even in public. What’s more, as pregnancy progresses, the forecast is for continued windy conditions.
The good news? Your baby can’t be harmed by all that gas, and in fact, is probably even enjoying that symphony of gastric rumblings (as orchestrated by your lunch). The bad news (which is no news to you)? Being a human whoopee cushion is uncomfortable and often humiliating. So what can you do about gas during pregnancy?
- Stay regular. Since constipation is a common cause of gas, try to head it off at the pass. Eat plenty of fiber (whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, dried fruit — you know the healthy drill), avoid dietary cloggers (like white rice, bread, and sugar), exercise regularly, and get your fill of fluids (water helps keep things moving). And when you gotta go, go.
- Phase in fiber. Have you been adding fiber to your pregnancy diet just a tad too exuberantly? If your system wasn’t used to all that bunny food, gas may be its way of letting you know — loud and clear. Try cutting back a bit on high-fiber foods and then adding them back into your diet gradually so your tummy has a chance to adjust.
- Eat less, more often. The more food you pump in, the more gas you’ll be pumping out. Instead of overloading your digestive system with three large meals a day, nibble instead on six mini-meals or three moderate ones plus two or three snacks. Not only will pacing your food intake keep your gassiness (and other gastric symptoms, like indigestion) in check, it’ll also keep your blood-sugar level steady (which means, among many other things, more energy and fewer headaches).
- Don’t gulp. If you typically scarf down your lunch in five minutes flat, you’re probably swallowing a lot of air with your sandwich. All that air will end up settling into your system in the form of gas bubbles that will seek release by heading south. So tell yourself what you’ll one day tell your tot: “Eat slowly! Chew your food! No gulping!”
- Take a chill pill with meals. When you’re stressed out, you tend to swallow air — and that can be a recipe for gastric disaster. So make a habit of starting each meal or snack with a chill pill. Take a few deep breaths (in through your nose and out through your mouth) to calm yourself. Repeat, as needed, while you eat and while you’re digesting. Better still, do it throughout your day, every day.
- Skip the hill of beans (and other gas producers). Beans are good for your heart — and for your blood pressure. That said, they’ve definitely earned their reputation as gas producers. Try not to overload on them, or on other members of the gas club, including cabbage, onions, sugary foods, fried foods, and rich, buttery sauces.
- Gain right. Keep your pregnancy weight gain gradual and moderate to minimize the amount of pressure on your digestive tract.
Here’s to passing on the gas!
Am I Pregnant? 15 Signs of Early Pregnancy
If your gut feeling says you might have a bun in the oven it can be agonizing to wait to find out for sure. Though ultrasounds and pregnancy tests are the only foolproof method of being certain, most urine tests won’t give accurate results until at least a day after your first missed period; an ultrasound can take even longer, as the fetus is invisible until 5-6 weeks after gestation. Thankfully, there are several signs of pregnancy that often show up long before a urine test or ultrasound is possible. Though every pregnancy is unique and every woman will experience theirs differently, the presence of these 15 symptoms, especially in conjunction with one another, might be a good indication that you’re a mommy-to-be.
Tender or swollen breasts
It takes a lot of time for your breasts to gear-up and transform into milk-machines, so it’s no surprise they start as soon as possible! For that reason, tender or swollen breasts is quite often one of the very first noticeable signs of pregnancy. In fact, many women report breast pain as soon as one to two weeks after conception. Also frequently described as a feeling of “heaviness” or “fullness,” this symptom is also often accompanied by a tingling sensation.
When the embryo first nestles into the uterus lining it disrupts blood vessels and sometimes causes bleeding. Known as “implantation bleeding,” this bleeding is often mistaken for the start of a period, but is usually spottier and rosier in color than menstrual blood. Because it can occur as soon as ten to fourteen days after fertilization, it can serve as an early indication of pregnancy.
Feeling queasy? All of those new hormones surging through your system during the earliest stages of pregnancy can handicap the stomach’s ability to pass food, which can lead to a belly ache. These waves of nausea, famously referred to as “morning sickness,” occurs during pregnancy and can happen at any time during the day. Although most women won’t experience morning sickness until later stages, for many it occurs as soon as two weeks after conception.
During pregnancy, slower digestion means that food lingers in the digestive system longer than normal. So all those tacos you ate on Tuesday have extra time in the body to breakdown slowly and release gas into your system–leading to a gassy build-up that many pregnant women experience quite early in their pregnancies.
Higher levels of progesterone don’t just slow the digestion process and cause bloating, they also cause various muscles–such as those in the digestive track–to relax. These relaxed muscles are in no hurry to pass matter through the intestines or to rid your body of waste; this leads to constipation. For that reason, difficulty with the infamous “number two” can also be one of the first noticeable signs of pregnancy.
Is the set of stairs at work knocking the wind out of you in a way they haven’t before? Are you dozing off during the movie or fantasizing about nap time? Feelings of fatigue and exhaustion are another indication you may be expecting.
Especially in the earliest stages of pregnancy, the body’s progesterone levels skyrocket, causing feelings of extreme tiredness. This in combination with lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and increased production of blood will leave a new mommy-to-be exhausted even by simple, daily tasks.
A baby needs a lot of room to grow, so when pregnancy occurs the body starts to expand the uterus to accommodate the fetus. This stretches the muscles and ligaments that support it, causing abdominal cramps which can feel very similar to period cramps. So if you’re cramping up but you see no signs of Aunt Flo’s visit, it could be an indication of pregnancy.
Heightened Sense of Smell
Sometimes your nose knows when you’re pregnant before you do. As with most other pregnancy symptoms, you can blame heightened hormone levels for this symptom. In this case, rising levels of estrogen may cause a newly pregnant woman to perceive odors differently, or even have a strong aversion to scents that formerly left them unfazed. Some of the classic examples include the smell of cigarettes, specific perfumes or lotions, and foods. For example, maybe the smell of the bakery down the road used to wake you up with a watering mouth, but now it just turns your stomach.
Did you used to love roast beef but now the sight of it makes you sick? Newly pregnant women frequently develop food aversions, sometime to dishes they formerly loved. Coffee and fried foods are cited as two of the most common, but any food can be the subject of an aversion.
If you’re getting frequent, sudden urges to devour an entire flank steak or gobble down a tray of brownies, you could be experiencing the hungry, insatiable monster known as pregnancy cravings. As soon as 2-3 weeks after the first missed period, a newly pregnant woman may confront overwhelming desires consume foods they never previously enjoyed, or simply a drive to overeat.
It’s no piece of cake gearing up to sustain and develop a tiny, growing human, so it’s no surprise that pregnancy can drive the body to have frequent headaches. Caused by increased blood circulation and (of course) rising hormone levels, frequent headaches, especially in combination with fatigue or other listed symptoms, can be a sign that your body has taken on the headache-of-a-task of creating life.
Frequently referred to as acid indigestion or acid reflux, the heartburn associated with pregnancy can leave your chest feeling ablaze. This is because the same hormones that expand the uterus also relax the valve between the esophagus and stomach, causing the heated pain known as heartburn. Because about half of all expectant women will experience heartburn, often for the duration of the pregnancy, it is not only one of the earliest signs of pregnancy but also one of the most common.
Are you feeling like a moody monster? A sudden onset of heightened feelings (both negative and positive) is another symptom newly pregnant women frequently experience. Often mistaken for the mood swings of PMS, rapid changes in mood or dramatic feelings may have a woman in the early stages feeling depressed and anxious.
Faintness or Dizziness
In the first trimester, a pregnant woman’s body is rushing to prepare to care for two humans, not just one. These rapid changes requires more blood in your body, and a better system of distributing it–something your body doesn’t have yet in those early stages. This along with lower blood pressure may leave you feeling light-headed or dizzy.
Just “Feeling” Pregnant
If you’re feeling you might be pregnant and you came here searching for answers, your gut feeling might be right. Clearly, this isn’t always the case, and there’s no certain way to suddenly know for sure, but many women do experience an intuitive feeling and say they simply “knew” right after conception. Though perhaps not a reliable manner of telling, there’s something to be said for a mother’s instinct.
In the end, pregnancy is an intimate and vastly different experience for every woman, so the exact signs are going to vary. However, if you’re feeling any of these symptoms or simply feeling “off” and not quite yourself, it’s possible you really may be.
Heartburn and Indigestion During Pregnancy
Once the nausea of early pregnancy wanes, many women look forward to enjoying their meals again. However, around the middle of pregnancy, heartburn and indigestion may spoil the party. These discomforts can happen at any time, but are more common in the second and third trimesters. Fortunately, they’re rarely serious and are easily treatable.
What are heartburn and indigestion?
Heartburn — which actually has nothing to do with your heart — is marked by a burning sensation after meals in your throat or in your chest behind the breastbone. It’s caused by stomach acid coming in contact with the esophagus (the pipe your food travels down). A valve at the bottom of that pipe seals off the top of the stomach when you’re not eating, but when valve is overly relaxed, partially digested food and stomach acid sometimes make their way back up into the esophagus, irritating its sensitive lining.
The chief symptom of heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest. You may also experience a sour taste in your mouth or the unpleasant feeling that vomit is rising in your throat.
Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a general term for digestion-related pain or discomfort in the abdomen. Symptoms of indigestion include heartburn, excess gas, bloating, burping, and feeling too full after a normal meal.
Both heartburn and indigestion are common conditions during pregnancy and rarely require medical attention.
What causes heartburn and indigestion during pregnancy?
When you’re expecting, the hormones coursing through your body make the muscles of the digestive system relax, which slows down digestion. The valve in your esophagus may open or leak, allowing acid from the stomach to flow upward. In addition, as your uterus grows, it pushes against the stomach, increasing pressure on the valve.
The slowdown in digestion can also cause more gas, which is the culprit in flatulence and bloating. Your stomach has less room due to your expanding uterus, and so feels fuller than normal.
How can I prevent heartburn?
Avoid eating or drinking things that encourage the valve in the esophagus to relax further. These include greasy or fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated drinks, tomato products, citrus juice, peppermint and spearmint, alcohol, onion, garlic, and spicy foods.
Here are some other tips:
- Sit up straight while eating.
- Remain upright for several hours after eating.
- Take a leisurely stroll after dinner to get digestion going.
- Keep your weight gain within reasonable limits.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Incorporate healthy sources of fiber in your diet to help the digestive system do its job.
- Reduce your stress level by taking time out for something you enjoy, such as a warm bath, a good book, or a chat with a friend.
- Eat frequent, light meals. The fuller your stomach is, the more pressure on the valve in your esophagus. For the same reason, avoid filling up on liquids while eating — consume your fluids between meals.
- Commit to not smoking or drinking alcohol. Smoking can increase the acidity in your stomach and is linked to premature birth, and drinking during pregnancy — especially binge or heavy drinking — can cause permanent brain damage to the fetus. If necessary, seek help from friends, support groups, or professionals.
- Raise the head of your bed by placing wooden wedges under the legs.
- Talk with your doctor about which antacids are safe during pregnancy, such as calcium carbonate (Tums).
If you are on medications, be sure to check whether heartburn is one of the possible side effects. Your doctor may want to adjust your treatment or dosage.
How can I prevent indigestion?
One of the best ways to minimize indigestion is to reduce the amount of gas in your body. Gas enters your system when you swallow air or forms inside your body when bacteria work on undigested food in your intestine. Although there is no way to eliminate gas altogether, here are some helpful tips to keep it in check:
- Avoid foods that cause you gas. These may include beans, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and carbonated drinks. Don’t rule out whole classes of healthy foods, however, as beans and cruciferous vegetables are very nutritious. Instead, keep track of your body’s reactions to different foods — meals that give your friend indigestion may sit just fine with you — and avoid foods that cause you problems.
- Stay away from high-fat, fried foods. These take longer to digest and thus contribute to bloating.
- Graze throughout the day rather than filling up at mealtime.
- Chew your food thoroughly (try counting how many times you actually chew each bite) and don’t rush through meals. The same goes for beverages. Take your time drinking and avoid gulping, which can introduce more air into your system. Never drink through a straw.
- Drink most of your fluids between meals, rather than when you eat.
- Practice good posture at the dinner table.
- Stay away from gum and hard candy, particularly those that are artificially sweetened. (These can cause significant gas in some people.)
- Get plenty of exercise, best done before a meal or at least one hour afterwards.
- Take steps to prevent or treat constipation. Drink lots of water, take daily walks, and try wheat bran for fiber, which will help speed up your digestive system. This source shouldn’t result in more gas, as many other fiber-rich foods do.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
- Practice relaxation and deep breathing. If you’re having trouble doing so, consider taking a class on prenatal yoga or meditation.
When should I see a doctor?
If these prevention techniques don’t work and you want to try an antacid or an anti-gas medication, speak with your doctor or midwife. Your health care provider can prescribe the medication that is best for you or help you make a safe choice of over-the-counter remedies.
What if my symptoms are really those of a heart attack?
Call 911 if you suspect that a sensation similar to heartburn could be a heart attack instead. Because both conditions can cause burning chest pain, pay careful attention to your symptoms. Signs that discomfort may indicate a heart attack, rather than just heartburn, include:
- A squeezing or crushing feeling in the chest
- Pressure in the chest
- Hot flushing or cold sweat
- Unusual fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- A feeling of malaise and indigestion, particularly among women
- Pain that spreads into your shoulder, arm or jaw
Fortunately, however, heart attacks among pregnant women are still very rare, although the rate has gone up slightly in recent years. In addition, pregnancy itself can increase a womans risk of heart attack 3- to 4- fold, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Because many symptoms of a heart attack are similar to those of common pregnancy discomforts, discuss heart attack awareness with your health care provider if you have any risk factors for heart problems. These include persistent high blood pressure, diabetes, eclampsia or preeclampsia, and getting pregnant later in life.
Armed with this toolbox of preventive tips, you should be able to indulge your food cravings without worrying about heartburn.
March of Dimes. Heartburn and Indigestion. http://www.marchofdimes.com
Mayo Clinic. Nonulcer stomach pain. http://www.mayoclinic.com
Mayo Clinic. Heartburn/GERD. http://www.mayoclinic.com/
Mayo Clinic. Early pregnancy: Morning sickness, fatigue and other common symptoms.
Pregnancy associated with increased risk of heart attack, Science Daily, July 8, 2008.
National Heartburn Alliance. Sufferers Point to Stress as an Aggravator of Heartburn. http://www.heartburnalliance.org/section3/1001.jsp
March of Dimes. Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy. August 2010. http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/681_1170.asp
American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy and Heartburn. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/heartburn.html
Mayo Clinic. Heart Attack. March 2005. http://www.mayoclinic.com/
Mayo Clinic. Intestinal Gas: The Inside Story. http://www.mayoclinic.com
It’s early on in your pregnancy, but already your pants are tight and your belly feels big – no, it’s not your imagination! Bloating is a common symptom of pregnancy, usually showing up in the first trimester, around week 10 or 11. Like so many other bodily changes during pregnancy, hormones are to blame – namely, progesterone.
Progesterone is the hormone that is responsible for maintaining a healthy pregnancy (“pro-gestation”). When progesterone levels rise, it can also cause things like bloating and gas, because it relaxes smooth muscle (like the uterus). The intestines are also smooth muscle, and an increase in progesterone slows down digestion, which contributes to the bloating. Higher progesterone levels are also the culprit behind the lovely gas so many women experience during pregnancy – the relaxed smooth muscle means that when the expanding uterus presses against the rectum, more flatulence occurs.
While there’s no way to completely avoid bloating during pregnancy, there are ways to lessen discomfort.
What You Can Do About Bloating During Pregnancy
Drink more water. Hydration is important during pregnancy, but especially to help reduce bloating. Getting enough fluids can reduce the risk of constipation, which can cause bloat.
Think small. Meals, that is. Try eating smaller meals more often, instead of 3 bigger ones. Eating larger meals means your body has to work that much harder (and longer) to break that food down, and with the added progesterone, can result in added gas and bloating. Smaller meals place less demand on your relaxed intestines and will help to cut down on gas. As an added bonus, it will keep your blood sugar steady, preventing crashes in energy, and will curb hunger, as well.
Slow and steady. When you eat quickly, you take in more air, which contributes to bloating. Same thing with eating meals while anxious or preoccupied (ie, while you’re working, in a meeting, etc). Slow down, practice being mindful at each meal, and focus on your food, enjoying your meal, rather than scarfing it down quickly to get something else done.
Choose foods/drinks wisely. If, like many, you can’t live without your daily Diet Coke, you might want to reconsider. The carbonation in soda only adds to feeling bloated, and if you’re drinking a lot of caffeine and not enough water, dehydration can leave you feeling tired and puffy. Eating greasy or fatty foods, combined with slower digestion, is also a recipe for sluggishness and bloating.
Did you experience bloating during pregnancy? How did you combat it?
Ways to Relieve Your Pain
During pregnancy your body is going through many changes. These changes are triggered by hormones that prepare your body for pregnancy. These hormones can also cause many physical discomforts. Luckily, there are easy ways to relieve your pains.
Backache is one of the most common problems women face during pregnancy. The extra weight you are carrying causes a strain on your lower back muscles causing them to become stiff and sore. If you have a backache that refuses to go away or continues to get worse, call you doctor to be sure that this pain is not caused by another health concern.
Some ways to lessen and relieve back pain:
- When picking up objects below waist level, use your legs instead of your back by bending your knees and keeping your back straight. Avoid heavy strain on your back by letting someone else pick up heavy objects. Also, keep objects within your reach so you don’t have to strain yourself to grab them.
- Wear low heeled shoes. High heeled shoes tilt your body and put more strain on your back.
- Stay off your feet! If you have to sit for a long time, sit in a comfortable chair with good support on your back or put a pillow behind the small of your back. If you have to stand for long periods of time rest one foot on a stool while you lean your weight on the other to relieve pressure on your back.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs to support your back. Also, sleeping on a firm mattress will give your back more support than sleeping on a soft mattress. To firm up a soft mattress just have someone put a piece of plywood between the box spring and the mattress.
- Exercise to keep your back muscles stretched. Strengthen your back muscles by doing exercises and using good posture.
- Use an abdominal support garment to help take the weight of your belly off your back. Some maternity bottoms have built-in, thick elastics that ride below your belly to do the same thing.
- Use a heating pad, warm water bottle, or cold compress on your back to ease pain.
As you body prepares itself for breastfeeding your breasts become larger and heavier. They most likely feel full and tender.
To help relieve breast discomforts:
- Wear a bra that fits well and has good support. A maternity bra, a bra built with extra wide shoulder straps, more coverage in the cups, and an extra row of hooks, is a good choice.
- Wear a supportive sleep bra to give you support while you sleep.
Constipation and Gas
During pregnancy you may get “backed-up” from hormonal changes or from vitamin supplements. This can cause painful bloating and gas which may be exaggerated late in the pregnancy when the weight of your uterus begins to push on your rectum.
To reduce bloating and gas:
- Drink plenty of fluids to help flush out your digestive tract.
- Eat high fiber foods, including vegetables, whole grain bread and bran cereal.
- Exercise to help your digestive system stay on track.
Frequent urination during pregnancy is caused by many influences. Your body is working hard to remove waste from your body. As your uterus grows it begins to press against your bladder and cause you to feel like you have to use the bathroom even if your bladder is almost empty. This may lessen in mid-pregnancy, as the uterus no longer rests on the bladder, but may begin again late in the pregnancy when the uterus drops into the pelvis. You may leak urine when you sneeze or cough due to pressure on your bladder. If this happens you can protect yourself by wearing panty shields or sanitary napkins.
To relieve frequent urination:
- Eliminate colas, coffee, and tea from your diet. Caffeine makes you urinate more. Don’t reduce the amount of fluids you drink, as this will rob you and your baby of vital fluids.
Headaches during pregnancy can be caused by hormonal changes, stress, increased hunger, fatigue, or even caffeine withdrawal. It is best to speak with your doctor before taking any drugs to relieve the pain.
Here are some drug-free tips to reduce headache pain:
- Rest in a dark quiet room.
- Place a cold face cloth on your forehead.
- Gently massage your temples, or have someone gently massage them for you.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar constant.
Heartburn and Indigestion
Heartburn, a feeling of burning in the throat and chest, and indigestion, a bloated and gassy feeling that happens when a stomach is slow to digest, may happen during pregnancy. There are many drug-free ways to help relieve symptoms and prevent heartburn and indigestion. Before taking antacids you should speak with your doctor.
To reduce your heartburn:
- Eat smaller meals, more frequently, rather than three large meals a day.
- Relax and eat slowly, chewing your food thoroughly.
- Stay away from foods that bother your stomach, including fried, greasy, and fatty foods. If heartburn is a problem, avoid fizzy drinks, citrus fruit, and fruit drinks.
- Don’t lie down after eating and eat a few hours before bedtime. If heartburn is still a problem at night, try propping your head up against a pillow or elevate your head using a couple of books under the legs of your bed by your head.
Hemorrhoids are painful, itchy varicose veins in the rectum. These can be caused by extra blood in your pelvic area and the pressure of your growing uterus on veins in the lower body. They may appear when you are constipated because straining bowel movements trap more blood in your veins. They may disappear only to return again during labor due to the strain of delivery.
Try these tips to help prevent hemorrhoids:
- Ward off constipation by drinking plenty of fluids and eating plenty of fiber.
- Keep your weight gain under control. Extra weight makes hemorrhoids more painful.
- Don’t sit for long periods of time. Sitting puts pressure on the veins in your pelvic area.
To reduce the painful swelling of hemorrhoids:
- Soak them in water.
- Apply ice packs.
- Apply witch hazel pads.
Your growing belly may make it hard for you to find a comfortable position while sleeping. Also, the impact emotionally and physically of having a new baby may make it hard for you to fall asleep.
To help you relax and get a good night’s sleep:
- Relax your mind and body in a warm bath or shower before bed.
- Learn relaxation exercises and breathing techniques.
- Limit your daytime sleeping.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow under your abdomen and another between your legs.
Leg cramps, especially at night, are a common discomfort during pregnancy, although the cause of them is uncertain.
To reduce cramping:
- Stretch your legs before going to bed.
- Avoid pointing your toes when stretching or exercising.
Lower Abdominal Pain
As your uterus grows, the ligaments that support it are pulled and stretched. This can cause dull or sharp pains on either side of your belly. These pains are most common between weeks 18 and 24. If these pains worsen or don’t go away, call your health care provider.
To prevent or relieve pains:
- Avoid moving quickly, especially at the waist.
- Bend toward the pain to help relieve it.
- Rest or change your position.
In the beginning of your pregnancy, you may feel queasy by the smell of certain foods and have trouble keeping food down. This feeling, known as “morning sickness,” can happen at any time during the day or night and may lessen by the middle of your pregnancy. This nausea and vomiting does not harm you or your baby if mild, but if it gets severe, you can’t keep any foods or fluids down, and you begin to lose weight, you should see your health care provider.
To help relieve nausea and vomiting:
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep from dehydrating. Sweet, bubbly drinks may help you feel better.
- Eat more often to keep your stomach full.
- If you are nauseated when you wake up, keep crackers next to your bed to nibble on before getting up. Get out of bed slowly, sit and rest before standing up.
- Eat foods that are low-fat and easy to digest.
- Getting fresh air may help. Try taking a short walk outside or sleeping with a window open.
Shortness of Breath
The increase of progesterone early in pregnancy may leave you short of breath. Later in the pregnancy, your uterus grows larger and may press against your diaphragm, making it difficult to breath. You may feel short of breath but you are still getting adequate oxygen.
To help you breathe easier:
- Give your heart and lungs a break by moving slowly and taking it easy.
- Give your lungs more room to expand by sitting or standing up straight.
Due to the increase in water in your body you may experience some swelling, known as edema, in your hands, feet, face, and other body parts especially later in the pregnancy and during the summer. If you notice a sudden swelling of any body part you should contact your health care provider.
To relieve swelling:
- Sit with your feet up often.
- Sleep with your legs propped up on a pillow.
Varicose veins, blue bulges on your legs or in the lower body during pregnancy are caused by the weight and pressure of your growing uterus. There are no ways to prevent this, but you can reduce the swelling, soreness, and itching.
Following are suggestions to help reduce your risk of developing varicose veins:
- When sitting or standing for a long period of time, be sure to move around and change your position once in awhile.
- Sit with your legs straight not crossed.
- Relieve pressure by putting your feet up on something such a chair, desk, or stool.
- Wear support hose. Avoid wearing stockings that are tight around your legs.
Yes, Pregnancy Affects Your Digestion
As of the 2014 census, the population of the United States was 318.9 million people. 50.4% of those people are female—that’s 160.7 million women. We learned that per 1,000 women aged 15-44 there were 62.9 births. Ergo, there were approximately 10,108,030 pregnant women in America during the year 2014. That’s over ten million women who are experiencing intense constipation, indigestion, nausea, and heartburn within a single year. While pregnancy isn’t exactly an illness, it causes the exact same symptoms as conditions like Crohn’s Disease and Acid Reflux. This week, we will focus on digestion and pregnancy. Why does the gut go berserk during pregnancy, and what can you do to calm it down?
Why do I feel this way?
In a word, progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone secreted in the ovaries and released during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. One of its jobs is to relax your muscles. This includes the smoothing down of muscles in your digestive tract, which then results in slow digestion will causes both digestive issues and the sluggish absorption of nutrients.
Common digestive issues in pregnancy and what to do
Nausea and vomiting
Between fifty and ninety percent of women will experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting are classic culprits of the first trimester. The causes range from a heightened sensitivity to smell and increase in hormones to a more sensitive gut. Here’s what you can do according to the
American Pregnancy Association:
- Eat several small meals throughout the day
- Eat bland foods like crackers and plain potatoes
- Taking Vitamin B6 is proven to help with morning sickness
- Eat or smell ginger and/or lemons
Gas, bloating, and constipation
In the beginning of pregnancy, progesterone will relax the muscles and slow digestion. Later in pregnancy, the enlarged uterus crowds the intestines, which further decreases the speed of digestion. This will make you feel bloated, gassy, and constipated. The best ways to deal with gas, bloat, and constipation during pregnancy are:
- Adjusting your diet
- Eating small meals throughout the day rather than eating three large meals
- Avoid carbonated drinks, gum, and hard candies
- Sit with good posture while you’re eating and try not to talk too much
- Get a little exercise!
The cause and effects of heartburn are extremely similar to those of gas and bloating in pregnancy. Your body is slowing down because there is so much new going on. Again, the relaxing of muscles in your digestive tract slows digestion and causes gas, which is the cause of heart burn. Here are some tips on how to prevent heartburn during pregnancy:
- Eat small, frequent meals
- Reduce stress by talking with a friend
- Wear loose-fitting clothing
- Again, adjust your diet so you are conscious of gas-inducing foods and habits
Congratulations! You’re pregnant! (Or, someone you’re close to is!) Pregnancy is definitely one of the more positive digestive issues, and we are happy to work with you and your obstetrician to answer your questions and find healthful, effective methods to alleviate your discomfort.