Ahhh pregnancy. It is such a miracle of life, and yet symptoms like pregnancy bloating can make you feel anything less than glowing. But trust us, mama, you’re not alone. If this particular pregnancy symptom is getting you down, know that it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you — or your baby.
So why (why, why, WHY?!?!) is bloating during pregnancy even a thing when you have SO much else to deal with, and how can you help relieve the discomfort? We’ve got the answers…
In this article: 📝
- Is it normal to be really bloated in early pregnancy?
- What does early pregnancy bloating feel like?
- Why do I feel so bloated pregnant?
Is it normal to be really bloated in early pregnancy?
Unfortunately, first trimester bloating is a common early pregnancy symptom and can be one of the first symptoms to pop up after (or even before) that positive pregnancy test. So if your jeans are tight already, it’s probably bloating at this point – but you have our permission to call it a baby bump anyway!
But how long does bloating last in early pregnancy? Unlike some other common first trimester symptoms, bloating, gas, and constipation are usually in it for the long haul, and you may only completely lose these symptoms once your baby is born. Sigh.
In a study, three-quarters of pregnant women experienced some kind of bowel disorder (constipation, bloating, or gas), with 66% of respondents suffering from bloating specifically, so you are definitely not alone. Promise.
What does early pregnancy bloating feel like?
Although you won’t be looking like you’re smuggling a beach ball under your shirt just yet, bloating in early pregnancy might have you feeling like a balloon that’s been blown up too far. Your stomach might feel tight, tense, and harder than usual when pressed. Bloating is often accompanied by constipation and gas during pregnancy, so you may well be feeling a bit stopped up too.
Medically speaking, pregnancy bloating isn’t a big concern, but it sure can be uncomfortable and sometimes difficult to deal with mentally, too. You might only be a few weeks pregnant and definitely not ready to break out the maternity clothes yet. We hear you. Your body changes in many ways during pregnancy, and not always in the glowing skin and luscious hair kind of ways either.
Luckily, there are some tips and tricks you can try to help soothe the pain, so you might be feeling more like yourself again soon.
As ever, if you’re suffering from severe abdominal pain at any point in pregnancy, it’s worth a chat with your doctor.
Why do I feel so bloated pregnant?
So, what causes bloating in early pregnancy? Blame it on the hormones! Well, one in particular — our good friend, progesterone. Needed for a healthy pregnancy, levels of progesterone go through the roof early on in your pregnancy and can cause havoc with your gut.
Progesterone relaxes smooth muscles in your body, and this includes your stomach and intestines. This means the usual muscle contractions that move food through your gastrointestinal tract slow down to allow more time for nutrients from said food to be absorbed to nourish you and your baby. It’s hard to be mad at something so clever. But, this slowing down also allows more time for gas to build up… and voila, you’ve got gas, bloating, cramps, and constipation. The original quadruple threat.
Later on in your pregnancy, your growing uterus and the weight of the baby will add some extra pressure onto your rectum which can exacerbate constipation, so it’s good to get into some good gut habits early on. Here’s how…
How do I get rid of bloating during pregnancy?
Bloating while pregnant may be common, but it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Here are our top tips to help relieve your pregnancy bloating:
- Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water each day. Drink between meals (instead of with the meal), as this will aid digestion.
- Include plenty of fiber in your diet. About 25-30g is ideal. Fibre rich foods include fresh and dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains like oats. Snacks like popcorn and nuts are good too. If your diet isn’t usually ticking all the boxes on the fiber front, introduce more gradually, as a sudden influx of fiber might cause more digestive issues.
- Cut back on foods known to cause gas, like fatty foods, fried foods, legumes, and vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.
- Probiotics promote healthy gut bacteria, so eating products like natural yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and sourdough can help. You can also ask your doctor about a probiotic supplement.
- Warm drinks like chamomile or peppermint tea can have a soothing effect on your stomach.
- Eating smaller meals, more frequently, can help avoid a sudden bout of bloating and will maintain a healthy distribution of nutrients to you and your baby. You may want to aim for eating 6 small meals, or 3 moderate meals and two snacks per day, rather than 3 large meals, which can be overwhelming for your gut.
- Relaxing and taking your time eating can help reduce the amount of air ingested along with your food, which can build up and make you feel super gassy. Take your time and try to enjoy your meal.
- Gentle abdominal massage can help with first trimester bloating before your baby bump kicks in. Lying down, use gentle circular motions with your fingers to soothe away those cramps. A great time to lay back, relax, and mentally go through those baby name ideas!
- Moderate exercise helps keep your bowels moving at any time, and during pregnancy is no different. A gentle walk or swim can be enough to help things along in the bathroom.
- Sweeteners mannitol and sorbitol can cause stomach upsets when consumed in large quantities. Although they’re safe to consume during pregnancy in moderate amounts, check sweetened products and maybe avoid them for now if you’re really suffering.
So there you have it. Pregnancy and bloating may go hand in hand, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a great job. Pregnancy is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’ll all be so worth it.