Gas and bloating are among some of the sensations you'll experience during your pregnancy, and if you're like most women, you'll want to find rapid relief.
If you're lucky enough to have close friends to swap stories with, by all means call on them for advice, but for some this might fall into the "too much information" category. This is where our experts come in to help you out.
What fills us up?
Dr. Marc Lewis, an OB/GYN with the Henry Ford Health System in Dearborn, Michigan, says there are many changes that take place during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, among them gas and bloating.
"The main reason for gas and bloating during pregnancy is due to decreased gastric emptying time," says Lewis. "By this I mean that due to the effects of estrogen on the gastrointestinal tract, the bowels slow their movement (peristalsis), thus increasing the time to digest food."
Lewis goes on to explain that the decrease in food digestion means food sits in your intestinal tract longer.
"There are normal bacteria that live in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract whose function is to digest food and break it down for absorption. This process produces 'gas' as the by product of digestion. The longer food sits in the GI tract, the more gas is produced, thus increased bloating," explains Lewis. "In addition, as pregnancy progresses, the stomach and intestines are displaced by the enlarging uterus, which can increase the feeling of fullness and bloating."
Most women have experienced gas and bloating at one point or another and, depending on who you talk to, you'll get a long list of advice on the best way of finding relief. Dr. Lewis suggests starting by increasing your fluid intake and staying away from gas-producing foods.
Some of these gas-producing foods include many vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peas and onions, among others. Carbonated drinks, as well as sugar substitutes, can also increase gas. We all know beans are gas-inducing, but foods like certain types of dairy and fruits, such as apricots and prunes, can also be the culprit.
Always be sure to check with your doctor before modifying your diet during pregnancy. Although some foods may make you a bit more gassy, they may not be worth the trade-off of essential vitamins and nutrients that you and your growing baby need.
Dr. Lewis also suggests exercising during your pregnancy to relieve the symptoms of gas and bloating. When you move on the outside it helps what's on the inside move properly as well, helping reduce the fullness you are feeling. Always consult your doctor before starting or changing an exercise routine. Relieving the symptoms may be as simple as getting out for a walk around the block.
If all else fails and you're finding even your pet leaves the room when you're around, consider using over-the-counter anti-gas medicines. Dr. Lewis suggests Gas-Z, Maalox, and Mylanta as good choices for pregnant women. And as always, be sure to talk to your doctor about symptoms you may be having and safe medications you can use.