Gas And Bloating In Pregnancy
"If my car ran on natural gas, I wouldn't have to buy any for a long, long, time." So says the woman who is dealing with one of the more common pregnancy symptoms-gas and bloating. She doesn't even have to drink water in order to burp, and although the baby bump is a long way off, she has to keep the top button undone on her pants and skirts. Even though everyone, pregnant or not, has some gas, it seems that when a woman becomes pregnant, production builds up.
The Progesterone Phenomenon
What causes this phenomenon? Progesterone. During pregnancy, the increased levels of progesterone cause a number of interesting changes in the body. The increase is also responsible for pregnancy fatigue. Among other things, progesterone induces relaxation in smooth muscles, including the gastrointestinal tract. When the muscles are relaxed, the digestive process slows down, leading to gas, bloating, belching, flatulence, and a general feeling of misery in the gut-especially, if you've eaten too much. Things exacerbate later in pregnancy when the growing baby causes the uterus to push the stomach into your throat and digestion slows to a crawl. Heartburn and constipation accompany this move.
How Gas Is Produced
Most often gas is caught in the digestive tract from swallowing air. This gas is typically released through burping. Some air can make its way to the intestines where it is released as flatulence. The other cause of gas occurs when bacteria in the large intestine breaks down undigested food that was not completely broken down in the stomach and small intestine. The primary food that causes gas is carbohydrates. Since pregnancy slows digestion, the intestine has a lot more time to store the food and allow the bacteria to work on it. More time equals more fermentation equals more gas.
The Carbohydrate Connection
The best way to deal with an abundance of gas is to make some changes to your diet. Since we know that carbohydrates are the main ingredient in gas production, being aware of which ones create the most gas is a good place to start. Crucifers, such as broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and beans are all high on the list. Sodas and sweet drinks can be very problematic as well, since sugar ferments quickly. Starches reduce to sugars in the gut, so pasta, potatoes, and bread can be challenging. Certain fruits, onions, and dairy have the potential to cause gas as well.
Some Things You Can Do
You can get relief without cutting all of your favorite foods from your diet. Rather than eating large meals, eat several smaller ones throughout the day. Take your Mother's advice, chew your food thoroughly, sit up when you eat and do not talk with your mouth full. Keep your fluid consumption minimal during your meal and drink from a glass rather than a bottle or through a straw. Avoid carbonated drinks. This time in your life is the best time to wear loose, non-restrictive clothing. You do not need any undue pressure on your abdomen. If you are constipated, take care of it because it only adds to the discomfort and swelling.
Of course, there are the ever-present reminders to get enough exercise and, if you smoke, quit. Smoking, besides being deadly to both you and your baby, increases stomach acidity.