I Feel Like A Hot Air Balloon!

August 4, 2009

You are in the very beginning stages of your pregnancy and your baby bump hasn't even begun to show, yet your tummy feels so full you can't fasten your pants. You drink a glass of water and end up belching so loud it would make a beer guzzler blush. The fact of the matter is that everyone, whether they are pregnant or not, has some gas-anywhere from one to three pints produced daily-and this gas is released about 14 times a day. However, during pregnancy you may experience even more gas than usual.

Progesterone, The Relaxation Hormone

What causes this eruption of gasses in your belly? During pregnancy, your body produces much higher levels of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone's function is to relax smooth muscle tissue throughout the body, and that includes the gastrointestinal tract. Since the relaxation slows the digestive processes, gas can result and manifest as bloating, burping, and flatulence. You may feel generally miserable, especially if you've eaten a rather large meal. As you progress in your pregnancy, your growing uterus will begin to crowd the abdominal cavity. This slows digestion even further and pushes on your stomach. You will feel even more bloated after eating and you may find you experience heartburn and constipation as well. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Why Do You Get Pregnancy Gas?

Gas is trapped in the digestive tract in two ways: when you swallow air and through bacteria in your large intestine when undigested food is broken down. Burping is how gas produced from swallowed air is released, and flatulence is the way gas in the intestine is relieved. When food is improperly digested in the stomach and small intestine, it is broken down in the colon. Since pregnancy slows digestion, allowing more time for the bacteria in the colon to do its work, the food sits longer in the gut. This means it is fermenting. The result of the fermentation is gas.

Some foods that bother one woman won't have any effect on another. For instance, a woman who is lactose intolerant does not have enough the of enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose (sugar in dairy products). As a result, eating too much dairy can cause bloating and gas. The most common culprits for gas creation are carbohydrates. Protein and fats do not usually create much gas, but fats do slow down digestion, which can in turn create bloating.

Find The Cause of Gas And Isolate It

The best way to deal with pregnancy gas and bloating is by cutting down on the foods that create the problems for you. If you keep a food diary, you will be able to tell which foods you are eating are affecting you adversely. By eliminating them and then adding them back into your diet slowly, you will be able to isolate the foods that cause your problems.

The sugar raffinose, which causes gas for many people, is found in beans, cabbage, and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus. Onions, pears, and artichokes are also common gas producers. If your gas discomfort ever feels more like abdominal pain or cramping, contact your health care provider.

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