How to Ease Uncomfortable Pregnancy Gas
If your burps and farts could rival that of a frat boy these days, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing one of the most annoying side effects of growing a tiny human: pregnancy gas. (And the worst part is, you don’t even get to use beer-guzzling as an excuse!) While pregnancy gas pain and increased frequency (like, all day, every day) are totally normal symptoms of pregnancy, that doesn’t make them pleasant to experience. While you shouldn’t be surprised if they bubble up (pardon the pun) from time to time, rest assured that there are some easy things you can do to get some pregnancy gas relief.
The answer is a resounding yes! Gas and pregnancy often go hand in hand. In fact, it’s often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. “Increased gas and other stomach symptoms can appear as early as one to two weeks after your missed period,” says Karen Voegtle, MD, an ob-gyn at BJC Medical Group Women’s Health Care in St. Louis, Missouri. So if you’re wondering if gas is a sign of pregnancy, it very well can be!
It would be nice if gas and bloating were symptoms you could leave behind as the weeks pass, but sadly that’s not the case. “Pregnant women frequently complain of bloating and gas in pregnancy,” says Danny Benjamin, MD, an ob-gyn at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. In fact, it can last all nine months and even into the postpartum period.
There are a number of different causes of pregnancy gas, which is partly why it’s an issue that can plague you the entire time. The biggest contributor is all those hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, specifically the higher dose of progesterone. “Progesterone is a smooth muscle relaxant, which slows the movement of bowel contents before being expelled during a bowel movement,” says Benjamin. “This results in constipation and ‘gas pockets,’ which can be quite uncomfortable.” Other causes of pregnancy gas include:
• Prenatal vitamins. If you weren’t taking prenatal vitamins before you got pregnant, you may notice that they cause even more pregnancy gas than you’re already dealing with. That’s due to the sudden onslaught of nutrients hitting your system, which can slow down your digestive tract, leading to constipation and gas.
• Iron supplements. Most women get the iron they need from their prenatal vitamins. But if your early pregnancy bloodwork comes back showing you have low levels of iron, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement. This is often met with a groan, and for good reason—iron supplements can lead to constipation, which in turn can contribute to pregnancy gas pain. Drinking lots of water can help, as can taking a doctor-approved stool softener for constipation.
• Bedrest. Have you been put on bedrest? If so, expect a slight uptick in the amount of pregnancy gas you’re experiencing. That’s because bedrest slows the metabolism, which causes intestinal contents to pass through more slowly, says Benjamin.
• Eating certain foods. Some foods tend to contribute to gassiness, like fried foods, broccoli, cabbage and beans, so try to stay away from those common culprits.
• Pressure on the colon as baby grows larger. An inevitable cause of pregnancy gas—especially in the third trimester—is the pressure that baby places on your internal organs as they grow.
So what can you do to ease gas pain in pregnancy? Luckily, there are ways to relieve some of the pressure. Read on for doctors’ top tips:
- Eat small, regular meals and stay away from foods that tend to give you gas. If you’re really suffering, keep a food journal; you might find other foods that are particularly troublesome.
- Eat and drink slowly to keep you from swallowing excess air (you’ll later use this technique when feeding baby!).
- Wear loose clothing to keep you comfy while you’re battling the bloat.
- Try certain yoga poses to help settle things down and get your intestinal tract moving.
- Consume plenty of liquids and high-fiber foods to help ward off constipation.
OTC Gas Medications to Try
If it seems like you’ve tried all the tips above—increasing your fluid intake, avoiding gas-inducing foods and adding high-fiber foods—it may be time to try an over-the-counter medication for pregnancy gas relief. But is Gas-X safe during pregnancy? And what about all those other gas-relief options? Benjamin assures that simethicone, the active ingredient in Gas-X and other gas relievers—is generally safe to take during pregnancy (and even when breastfeeding) to relieve gas pain in pregnancy. In fact, simethicone is the same active ingredient in many infant gas relief medications, like Mylicon.
Despite being uncomfortable for you, the upside is that all that pregnancy gas pain won’t affect baby. But if you’re also experiencing severe nausea, excessive vomiting or bloody stools, it’s a good idea to get checked out by your regular doctor or head to the ER if you’re not able to get in pronto, as these could be signs of a more serious issue, like gallstones. And if you think your abdominal pains could actually be contractions, call your ob-gyn right away. Even if you’re wrong, it’s best to be on the safe side. Trust us—you’re definitely not the first mom-to-be to mistake gas for labor contractions!
Updated February 2020
Karen Voegtle, MD, is an ob-gyn at BJC Medical Group Women’s Health Care in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her medical degree from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
Danny Benjamin, MD, FACOG, is an ob-gyn at Metro Obstetrics & Gynecology and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. He earned his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1979.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.