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Gas During Pregnancy: Medic for Relief

The beautiful experience of being pregnant is often tainted by some not-so-beautiful physiological tendencies going into overdrive, the most embarrassing being flatulence. Most pregnant women the world over report encountering unmanageable gas and bloating during their gestation period.

Causes of Gas During Pregnancy

There are a number of causes for the formation of gas during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Gas During Pregnancy

Backenting Gas During Pregnancy

Some preventive measures that come in handy to relieve your gaseous problems are as follows:

When to See a Doctor

Pregnancy-related gas and bloating may be uncomfortable experiences for the mother, but these symptoms usually don’t affect the baby growing in her womb.

However, consult a doctor if gas trouble escalates to:

These symptoms can indicate a more serious underlying issue that needs an ob-gyn’s evaluation.

While gas can be embarrassing and highly uncomfortable, some simple and effective home remedies can help reduce gas during pregnancy.

Alternative Ways to Deal with Gas During Pregnancy

Here are some home remedies for gas during pregnancy.

1. Avoid Gas-Forming Foods

The food you eat has a direct impact on the amount of gas you experience, pregnant or not. During pregnancy, you need to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and avoid foods that can lead to gas buildup in the stomach and intestines.

Some common foods that cause gas and bloating include cabbage, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, pasta, bread, white rice, potatoes, oat bran, raspberries, and pears.

One practical method is to maintain a food journal to keep track of what food you eat and the corresponding gas volume experienced with it. This will help you identify and eliminate the problematic foods from your diet.

If you are lactose intolerant or even slightly allergic to milk, needless to say, you must avoid dairy products and look into alternatives such as soy milk or rice milk.

Additionally, avoid greasy or fried fatty foods. They take a long time to break down and digest. Also, sodas and fruity, fizzy drinks are packed with empty calories and can cause gas.

2. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Water is your best bet when it comes to improving your digestive health and preventing the formation of gas. The digestive tract functions better when the body gets an adequate amount of fluid intake.

It also prevents constipation. By keeping your stools soft, water helps facilitate their smoother movement through the colon and eventually out of the system.

Proper hydration is also important for your baby’s health.

Drink about 8 to 10 glasses of plain or flavored water every day. Also, include juice in your diet that is low in certain types of hard-to-digest sugars called FODMAPs, which lead to increased gas formation. Cranberry, grape, pineapple, and orange juice are some of the best examples.

Avoid carbonated and fizzy beverages such as soda that work only to exacerbate your gas-prone condition, due to the carbon dioxide and artificial sweeteners present in them.

3. Up Your Fiber Intake

Foods that contain fiber may cause your body to produce more gas, but it also helps move the food more smoothly through the digestive tract and ensures regular and timely bowel movements. Thus, by preventing constipation, the problem of excessive gas is inherently kept in check as well.

Moreover, fibrous foods bring water into the intestines, softening the stools and allowing them to pass more easily.

Note: Drink plenty of water with fiber for optimum result. High fiber with low water intake may aggravate constipation.

4. Be Active

Pregnancy often entails an inactive and sedentary lifestyle with the objective of keeping you and your unborn child out of harm’s way. While safety and caution are paramount for an expecting mother, this does not necessarily mean that you need to lie in your bed and rest all day.

Regular exercise during pregnancy is beneficial for reducing the formation of excess gas.

The best thing to do after a meal is to engage in some light exercise such as washing the dishes or a short walk in the park. This is far more conducive to quick and efficient food digestion than sitting still in one place. This means your food will move through your intestinal tract more quickly and produce less gas along the way.

However, one should not get carried away and break into strenuous exercise routines in a fit of passion. Mild and harmless exercises, such as a brisk walk in the park or some appropriate yoga asanas, are ideal for pregnant women to rid them of their pesky gas troubles.

This, compounded by the fact that exercise also prevents unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy, helps improve glucose metabolism and reduces insulin resistance, giving further credence to the efficacy of this lifestyle approach in ensuring the health of expecting mothers.

Note: Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise to avoid any complications. Stick to mild exercises only during pregnancy.

5. Perform Yoga and Meditation

Prenatal yoga is as much a gas buster as it is a stress buster. The “cow pose” is one of the ideal yoga asanas that help with the abdominal discomfort caused by pregnancy-related gas issues.

It helps open the chest and promote spinal flexibility and provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs. This, in turn, works to release the tightness in the abdomen, which is a huge solace during pregnancy.

Caution: Check with your doctor before starting prenatal yoga or attempting any new pose, to be sure if the exercise is appropriate for your condition.

Since pregnant women tend to stress over the smallest of things, given their vulnerable state and the responsibility of another life growing in their belly, much of their gassy problems are stress induced.

It is often noted that people in their anxious state tend to breathe incorrectly and swallow more air than usual, which in turn gets locked in their digestive tract and is released in the form of frequent belching and flatulence. Moreover, stress-related gas has also been associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

If you find yourself getting overly worked up about the usual concerns that characterize a mother-to-be, try stress management and relaxation therapies such as meditation and yoga. Pregnancy is both a life-giving and a life-altering experience. Don’t stress it, just embrace it.

  1. Get on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Position your arms directly below your shoulders, keeping them straight.
  3. Inhale as you drop your belly and gaze at the upper portion of the wall in front of you, stretching your head, neck, and chest upward.
  4. Repeat 5 to 10 times, and then finish with the child’s pose to relax your body.
Note: This pose is often paired with the cat pose, but it is advisable to only stick with the cow pose and give the cat pose a miss during the prenatal months. Some other useful yoga poses for easing painful bloating and gas are the extended side angle pose, triangle pose, sitting side stretch, wind relieving pose, and child’s pose.

6. Drinking Probiotics can Help

Probiotic drinks are a great home remedy for gas during pregnancy. Being rich in probiotic microbes, they help promote digestion. The lesser time it takes for food to get processed and remain in the colon, the lesser the gas formation. The flavorsome taste of these drinks doesn’t hurt either.

A pilot study in 2012 published in Nutrition Journal found that the multispecies probiotic mixture seemed to be safe and possibly effective to relieve constipation during pregnancy. However, a large placebo-controlled randomized trial was required to confirm the data.

7. Drink Fenugreek-Infused Water

Fenugreek contains a good amount of soluble fiber that absorbs water in the intestines and adds bulk to the stools. This helps ease constipation, which in turn prevents the formation of gas during pregnancy.

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in 1 cup of water.
  2. Let it soak overnight.
  3. The next morning, strain out the infused water and drink it on an empty stomach.
Note: Fenugreek should be consumed only in small quantities by pregnant women, preferably use it as part of cooking a meal.

8. Wear Loose Clothing

The clothes you wear during pregnancy can also play a key role in reducing gas.

For instance, clothing that is constricting around the waist or has a button closure just over your belly can further squeeze the abdomen, adding greater pressure on your already compressed digestive system. It also has a mitigating effect on the blood circulation in the body, further deteriorating your gas-afflicted condition.

So, if your pants or skirts are causing welts in your skin, your wardrobe needs an overhaul. Loose-fitting maternal wear, made of skin-friendly fabrics, will allow you to breathe without putting any extra strain on the abdomen and will allow the free movement of gases within the body as well.

9. Eat Smaller Meals

Another simple trick to avoid excess gas formation during pregnancy is to eat smaller meals. Instead of having three heavy meals, spread your meals out into five to seven small meals throughout the day.

This not only unburdens your overworked digestive system but also helps maintain a constant nutritional intake for the fetus to grow optimally.

The way you eat your meals also can affect how much gas is produced. Chew your food properly and avoid gulping down your food. Taking big bites of food and eating in a hurry can lead to faster gas formation in the stomach.

Also, avoid lying down and eating. Always eat your food in a seated position, and avoid lying down immediately after eating to avoid gas formation and constipation.

Resources:

  1. Gas During Pregnancy: Causes and Backention. American Pregnancy Association. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/gas-during-pregnancy/. Published May 19, 2016.
  2. Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract/symptoms-causes. Published July 1, 2016.
  3. Verghese TS, Futaba K. Constipation in pregnancy. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/tog.12179. Published March 31, 2015.
  4. Montgomery KS. Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond. The Journal of Perinatal Education. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595116/. Published 2002.
  5. Dahl WJ, Stewart ML. position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Plum X Matrix. https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(15)01386-6/fulltext. Published November 2015.
  6. Hsieh C. Treatment of Constipation in Older Adults. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1201/p2277.html#sec-7. Published December 1, 2005.
  7. Villoria A, Serra J, Azpiroz F, Malagelada JR. Physical activity and intestinal gas clearance in patients with bloating. The American journal of gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17029608. Published November 2006.
  8. Curtis K, Weinrib A, Katz J. Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/715942/. Published August 14, 2012.
  9. Milliano Ide, Tabbers MM, Post JAvan der, Benninga MA. Is a multispecies probiotic mixture effective in constipation during pregnancy? ‘A pilot study’. Nutrition Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3502183/. Published 2012.
  10. Srinivasan K. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum): A Review of Health Beneficial Physiological Effects. Food Reviews International. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/87559120600586315?src=recsys&journalCode=lfri20. Published February 6, 2007.
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