Gas pains are a common side effect that you can expect when you’re expecting. You have a lot less room in your abdomen than you did before. The hormone fluctuations you’re going through don’t help either. Progesterone is one of the main culprits of gas buildup in pregnancies because it relaxes the digestive tract muscles and slows down the digestive process.
Diet and lifestyle also play a part in excess gas buildup during pregnancy. You can make lifestyle changes to help alleviate painful gas while you're pregnant. If that doesn’t work, you should discuss other solutions with your doctor.
What is pregnancy gas pain?
Everyone produces gas in their body as they digest food. We also take in air as we swallow and eat. It makes sense then that this air and gas will need to find a way out of our bodies. During pregnancy, gas may not travel through our gastrointestinal tract how it is supposed to.
Gas can become trapped in your intestines, which causes pain. A pregnant woman has much less room in her abdomen as the baby grows. Naturally, the baby squeezes the intestines, making it easier for the mother to experience pain from gas. Some of the main symptoms are:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Passing gas
- An increase in your belly size
Progesterone is a hormone that is produced by females during ovulation and pregnancy. This hormone has a relaxing effect on the muscles in the body.
Progesterone also relaxes the muscles in your digestive system, causing it to slow down. When this system slows, it becomes more difficult for gas (and everything else) to move through to the colon and out the anus. It builds up and begins to hurt.
Who can get gas pain while pregnant?
Since everyone creates gas as a digestive byproduct, and hormone changes in your body create more gas, anyone who is pregnant can experience pregnancy gas pain.
Diagnosis for pregnancy gas pain
Diagnosing gas buildup when you’re pregnant can be challenging for doctors. They may have to avoid specific tests to prevent any risk to your baby.
Your doctor might ask you about your medical history and if there have been any complications during your pregnancy. They will ask you questions to determine if you’re constipated. They may also order an upper endoscopy to view your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.
Treatment for pregnancy gas pain
You may benefit from home remedies or over-the-counter gas relief treatments while pregnant.
Your doctor may prescribe simethicone to help break up the gas bubbles. Simethicone is used in most of the anti-gas remedies found in stores. While it isn’t harmful to your baby, talk to your doctor before taking it to ensure you won’t have any complications.
Diet is an integral part of keeping gas production down in your body. If you haven’t been eating enough fiber, you should begin. However, don’t immediately start with a fiber-rich diet because you could create more gas. Ease yourself into it.
Drink lots of water to help your bowels move. You should also try to eat smaller portions more often. Exercise is a tried and true method of getting rid of gas, so if you’re able to exercise, you should.
Avoid carbonated beverages and foods that naturally create gas (like broccoli). Drinking from a straw, chewing gum, and sucking on candies make you swallow air, so you should try to avoid those activities, as well. Dairy products can make your body produce more gas, so try using a lactose-free substitute instead.
Gas pain complications
Gas can be painful, especially if you’re carrying a baby. However, in most circumstances, it is not a condition that can cause any harm to you or your baby. Although a bit uncomfortable, with the right treatment, you can get through pregnancy gas pains.
If you’re experiencing pain in your abdomen while you're pregnant, it might be gas. However, other conditions can cause pain in the stomach, especially when you’re pregnant. If you experience any pain that lasts longer than 30 minutes or is recurring, call your doctor immediately. You could be in labor or have another condition that requires immediate attention.
Pregnancy and Parenting Resources
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American Pregnancy Association: "Pregnancy Gas."
Annals of Gastroenterology: "Gastrointestinal diseases during pregnancy: what does the gastroenterologist need to know?"
Drugs.com: "How Should I Approach Medication Use in Pregnancy?"
MayoClinic: "Gas and gas pains."
Orvosi Hetilap: "Safety of gastrointestinal endoscopy during pregnancy."
U.S. Pharmacist: "OTC Medications for GI Disorders in Pregnancy."