Gas and Bloating during Pregnancy

Women in their childbearing years hear and see a lot about pregnancy.  From creative posts from friends on social media announcing their pregnancy to beautiful full term pictures by pregnant friends letting it be known they are ready for the baby to come out.  As a doula and midwife assistant its my job to hear about the not so glamorous side of pregnancy, like gas, constipation, hemorrhoids  etc.  and I wish women would be more open about this side of pregnancy because it is natural and a big clue for how to prepare for pregnancy and care of your self before and after the baby.

Early in pregnancy, even before your uterus is big enough for you to show, pregnancy hormones are hard at work. An increase in the hormone progesterone slows down your colon movement which means digestion slows down which means more time for gas to be produced.  This is the main cause of early pregnancy gas and bloating.  But wait there’s more…

So aside from the progesterone, the placenta produces a chemical called Relaxin.  As the pregnancy progresses the pregnant body needs flexibility to make room for the growing baby, relaxin relaxes ligaments to allow the uterus and pelvis to expand.  The chemical also relaxes other parts of the body like your arteries (to lower blood pressure), joints, musculoskeletal system and… your colon.  Basically your gut is running in super slow motion when you are pregnant and sluggish intestines cause gas, bloating and constipation which can cause hemorrhoids.  Now that you know all this, here are 7 ways to avoid or alleviate gas during pregnancy ( you can start practicing these before you get pregnant):

  1. Drink lemon/lime water first thing every morning.  Drinking water with freshly squeezed lemon/lime makes your stomach and intestine more alkaline which alleviates gastrointestinal distress.
  2. Avoid carbonated drinks (Soda, pop, soda pop).  It. is. just. bad. Soda is full sugar and acidic chemicals that stress your organs.  (Put the soda down Big Fella).
  3. No MILK: Most adults are lactose intolerant, some can tolerate the symptoms but a pregnant body is less forgiving.   “Many women start drinking milk every day during pregnancy and think it’s good for them,” Sonja Kinney, MD, associate professor in the ob-gyn department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine, says. “But they can’t tolerate milk as an adult.”
    • You can replace cow milk with almond milk which is healing to the intestinal lining and great for indigestion.
  4. Avoid foods that normally cause gas such as
    • Beans, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, fried foodsonions, raw garlic  and fatty foods etc.
    • Add foods like almonds, papaya, carrots, ginger, aloe, okra, and other fresh fruits & vegetable.
  5. Exercise! Simply walking for 30 full minutes a day can stimulate your gastrointestinal tract.  But exercise alone without avoiding the culprit foods above may not work.
  6. Avoid wheat.  Especially if you already know you are sensitive to gluten.  Even when you are not pregnant a common symptom of gluten sensitivity is constipation.
  7. Drink plenty of water!  Your baby is growing in water and you are made of 70% water so if you think you’ve drank a lot of water, drink more!  You can add lemon/lime to the water to entertain your taste buds and also because I love beginning and ending with lemon/lime water. Full 🌑 circle!

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