Gas and Bloating During Your Pregnancy
Everybody Has Pregnancy Gas
Believe it or not, everyone has some gas and often they pass what they produce - up to 14 times a day! Having said that, gas production does increase during pregnancy and it can begin very early on. Your husband just might think you've been hanging out with the guys a little too much as you find yourself capable of high decibel burps and other noises. Long before your baby bump shows, you may feel the need to unbutton your pants just to relieve the bloating.
What Happened to Me? Progesterone Pregnancy
So, what wild beast has taken over your body? Progesterone. During pregnancy your body produces higher levels of the hormone progesterone which relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout the body - and that would include the gastrointestinal tract. Digestive processes are slowed down when this happens and that can lead to gas, bloating, burping and flatulence. Your gut feels awful, especially after a big meal. As your pregnancy progresses and your stomach is crunched by your growing uterus, digestion is slowed again and you feel even more bloated. Then along comes heartburn or constipation, even if you've never had them before. Are we having fun yet?
How You Get Pregnancy Gas - Self-Manufacturing Process
You get gas in one of two different ways: by swallowing air and when the bacteria in your colon break down undigested food. Stomach gas obtained from swallowing air usually comes out in a burp, but sometimes a small amount makes its way down to the colon and comes out as flatulence. The gas responsible for flatulence is produced when bacteria in the large intestine have to finish the job of breaking down food that wasn't properly or completely digested by the enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. It's certain carbohydrates that create the problem. Generally speaking, protein and fat don't produce much gas.
And, Now That You're Pregnant...
Pregnancy slows the digestive process down which means the bacteria in the colon has a lot more time to work on the food that's in the colon before it leaves the body. The longer the food sits in the colon, the more it ferments and the more gas you produce. Constipation can also lead to more gas and certainly more bloat.
Food Intolerances and "Gassy" Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy
Different foods affect different people differently. Take for instance those with lactose intolerance. If a person does not produce enough lactase - the enzyme that breaks down lactose - when they eat dairy products, they will likely bloat and become gassy. If you know the foods that cause the problems, then it is a good idea to cut back on eating those foods. Having said that, a balanced diet is hard to maintain if you remove all of the gas producing foods from your diet.
Cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus all contain the sugar raffinose, which often causes gas in many people. Sodas and fruit drinks (which should be avoided anyway) are also culprits. Certain starches, like pasta and potatoes can create gas as can fruit.
Remove the obvious and, if you get relief, begin to slowly add them back into your diet until you find the offending item.