We know, we know. Gas isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to chat about, but hey — we’re all friends here. And it’s true when we say you’re not alone. Gas during pregnancy is super common, but we’re guessing no one warned you about it before, so it’s probably come as a bit of an awkward surprise!
The average person passes gas (yes, we’re talking about farting) around 18 times a day, and it’s normal for this amount of flatulence to increase pretty much from day one of pregnancy. But why? Here’s the workings behind pregnancy gas, and exactly how you can justify any accidental toots to your partner/parents/co-workers/random strangers who walk by at just the wrong time.
Do you fart more when pregnant?
The answer for most people is, yes. As soon as you become pregnant, your levels of the hormone progesterone increase rapidly before plateauing at an all-time high by the end of the first trimester. Progesterone is super important, but it can also be blamed for a whole host of pregnancy symptoms, including gas.
Why is progesterone important? It supports your pregnancy from the get-go — from ensuring your uterine walls are thick and welcoming for the fertilized egg, to keeping your placenta healthy. It helps prepare your breasts for milk production, too.
So why does progesterone make us gassy when pregnant?
Another thing progesterone does is relax muscles throughout our body. While this relaxation allows your uterus to grow (and grow… and grow), it also relaxes the smooth muscles of your stomach and intestinal tract. That means the contractions that usually push the digested food along and out of your body slooooow. Right. Down. The time food takes in transit through a pregnant person’s body can increase by up to 30%, and this means a lot more time for gas to build up. Yikes.
There are also some other physical causes of gas during pregnancy. As your baby grows, they leave less and less room for all the other stuff usually taking up space in your abdominal cavity (like your intestines and stomach), meaning those organs get squished to the side. This additional pressure can increase gassiness. Additionally, as you progress into the latter stages of pregnancy, that heavy baby bump is pressing down on your rectum and pelvic floor muscles, making it harder to control the release of gas. Cue more accidental farts when you least expect it. Sigh.
So let’s answer some common questions. We’re here to help, mama.
Is it normal to be gassy during early pregnancy?
Yep, absolutely. It’s not widely talked about, but the increase in gas during early pregnancy is totally normal. As your pregnancy progresses, the gas might not necessarily go away, but you may be able to relieve, or control, it better (more on that later).
How early do you get gas in pregnancy?
Gas pains during early pregnancy can be one of the first tell-tale signs that you are making a baby. It can show up as early as four or five weeks gestation and, thanks to this bloated feeling, you might find your stomach expanding much earlier than you anticipated.
What does gas pain during pregnancy feel like?
Gas pain can range from mild to excruciating. If you’re having severe gas pain that doesn’t pass quickly, or it occurs frequently and doesn’t respond to some of the suggestions below, it might be worth calling your doctor. Gas pain shouldn’t cause a fever, vaginal discharge, or uterine cramps, so if you have any of those, that’s another good reason to call your doctor.
How can I relieve gas during pregnancy?
So now we know it’s normal and here to stay, how can we get on top of that gassy pregnancy and bloated feeling? Slight tweaks to your diet and daily routine can help, but as ever, if the pain is severe or lasts for more than a week or so, it’s best to seek advice from your doctor.
Here’s how to relieve gas during pregnancy:
Limit your intake of carbonated drinks and deep-fried foods that are usually triggers for excess gas. It’s unlikely these foods are offering a lot of nutritional benefits anyway. Sorry onion rings, see you in nine months.
Some foods that are otherwise really healthy options for a pregnancy diet can also increase gas build-up. These include green vegetables, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, whole grains, legumes, dairy, pork products, and potatoes. While elimination diets are not recommended during pregnancy, keeping a food diary to track your intake and gassy symptoms might help you pinpoint exactly what items to limit.
Eat slowly, and chew your food thoroughly, to help aid easy digestion and limit the work your intestines have to do.
Eating smaller meals more frequently can prevent your intestines from becoming overloaded.
Drink plenty of water to help keep things moving on through.
Introducing more fiber to your diet can help with constipation, which often goes hand in hand with pregnancy gas.
Exercise can help stimulate digestion and is a great stress reliever while pregnant (whenever you have the energy for it).
Avoid chewing gum, which can increase the volume of air you swallow. That air has to come out somewhere.
Peppermint or ginger teas can help soothe cramps and bloating and can help with pregnancy nausea, too.
Avoid clothes with tight waistbands, which can irritate your abdomen and increase the feeling of discomfort.
If you feel stressed, you’re more likely to swallow more air through rapid breathing or rushed mealtimes. Try to relax as much as you can. Meditation, taking a bath, or trying some prenatal yoga might help.
What can I take for gas during pregnancy?
If none of the home remedies above are ridding you of your pregnancy gas, it’s time to speak to your doctor about which medications are pregnancy-safe. Popular medications like Gas-X have the active ingredient simethicone, and pregnancy use is generally safe. Phew.
Hopefully you’re feeling less embarrassed, and more empowered, about the changes going on with your body. And if all else fails when you’re justifying the most recent butt-burp situation? Just blame it on the baby.