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.
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.
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 [to pass more easily],” 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.
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.”