Before you became pregnant, you may not have given a second thought to your typical drugstore remedies for common ailments: Tylenol for a headache, TUMS for heartburn, melatonin for sleep — and even Gas-X, which is appropriately named for gas pains.
But now that you’re expecting, everything has changed, and you’re hyperaware of what you can and cannot put into your body safely.
The good news: Some over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are generally acceptable during pregnancy. You’ve seen us tackle Tylenol, TUMS, and melatonin in pregnancy — now let’s take a deeper dive into those gas pains and getting relief with simethicone (the active ingredient in Gas-X).
Everyone gets gas now and then, usually because you’ve eaten something that disagrees with you (or a known gas-inducing culprit like beans). Gas is natural and usually no cause for concern — but it can be annoying.
In pregnancy, your annoyance meter may go up a notch, as gas and bloating can become even more frequent. A couple of factors contribute to this increase in hot air, including surging hormone levels and your unusual or new food cravings, which may be dictating a whole new digestive experience.
Progesterone, in particular, can cause bloating and gas, as it slows your digestive system by relaxing the related smooth muscles. The slower your food moves, the more air builds up.
Now that you know what causes the excess gas — and that it’s normal in pregnancy — you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. You’re also likely interested in getting some physical relief, especially if the gas is painful. So is Gas-X a safe option?
Not every product you see on the shelves of your local pharmacy or drugstore has been evaluated by a professional medical association. Fortunately, simethicone (Gas-X) — and specifically its use during pregnancy — has.
The American Gastroenterological Association released a statement in 2006 about pregnant people and the safety of certain drugs for gastrointestinal (GI) issues. It categorized simethicone as low risk, but with no human data. The final determination? It’s “probably compatible” with pregnancy.
That said, the Gas-X FAQ page includes an important reminder about its product (and really any OTC product you may want to take during pregnancy): Check with your OB-GYN first.
Interestingly, simethicone works by breaking up surface gas bubbles in the GI tract and isn’t absorbed by the body. (Essentially, it does its job, and then you poop it out.)
Using the letters A to D and X, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used to assign pregnancy categories to drugs according to how safe they were to take while pregnant. These categories are no longer in use officially, but people often still refer to them for guidance.
When the lettering system was still in use, simethicone was considered category C. Category C stated that effects in human pregnancy were unknown, although some fetal damage had been observed in animal studies.
The American Family Physician Journal also classified simethicone as “considered safe” during pregnancy in 2014 and assigned it pregnancy category C.
Although Gas-X is considered safe during pregnancy, you may decide against it on your own or after talking to your OB. If that’s the case, you may want to try some alternatives to avoid gas pain. These include:
- drinking more water — and then drinking even more than that
- avoiding certain foods known to cause gas, such as beans, apples, certain dried fruits (prunes, in particular), excessive dairy, and onions
- avoiding swallowing excess air while eating or drinking by not talking while eating and not using a straw to consume liquid
- getting enough fiber
- not chewing gum
If you’re already experiencing painful gas, ginger or peppermint tea might help soothe your digestive system. While other OTC options are considered pregnancy-safe, such as Maalox or Mylanta, it’s worth noting that they contain the same type of drug as Gas-X.
Finally, TUMS has anti-gas effects, but its manufacturer achieves them by adding simethicone, the same ingredient in Gas-X. So unless you’re also in need of an antacid, there’s no reason to take TUMS for gas.
Gas is typically harmless in pregnancy, but it’s natural to want relief. Talk with your OB-GYN before taking an OTC product like Gas-X, but rest assured that simethicone is considered low risk during pregnancy.
Certain lifestyle modifications can also help prevent or lessen gas. Still, keep in mind that while gas isn’t generally a concern during pregnancy, other causes of abdominal pain can be. Let your OB know if you’re in pain.