Pregnancy can be a beautiful thing. But it can also be uncomfortable. If you’re walking around feeling like a hot air balloon, you’re not alone. Bloating is probably one of your least favorite pregnancy symptoms, and it usually shows up around week 11. The bad news? It typically lasts until delivery day. Thankfully, relief is out there. But before we get to that, you should understand what’s causing all that extra gas and bloating.
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What Causes Bloating During Pregnancy?
Your pregnancy test came back positive last week, but you already feel like a puffed up marshmallow. What gives?
Progesterone, one of the most important pregnancy hormones, is to blame for all your excess gas and that terrible bloated feeling. Why? It causes your body’s smooth muscle tissue to relax – including the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract. Digestion slows down, too, so your food has enough time to enter your bloodstream and make its way to your baby. But there’s a downside to slower digestion: it causes bloating.
On top of all this, your uterus is constantly expanding to make room for your rapidly-growing baby, which puts even more pressure on your rectum.
The bad news is that the “I’m-so-full-I-could-pop” feeling you have won’t be going away anytime soon. It will probably get worse as your uterus continues to grow and puts more pressure on your intestines and stomach. Your baby will be oblivious to your discomfort though, so there’s no need to worry about all that extra gas hurting your little one.
6 Ways to Beat the Pregnancy Bloat
Bloating and gas may be unavoidable, but you don’t have to suffer through it. There are plenty of things you can do to beat the bloat and start feeling like your old self again.
1. Up Your Fiber Intake
Fill up on fiber to cut back on the bloating and gas by improving digestion. Remember, digestion slows down naturally when you’re pregnant, which means food spends more time in your stomach and intestines. Eventually, that food may ferment and cause more gas. Fiber can help move things along, alleviating gas and bloating.
While fiber can be very helpful, it may also make your bloating worse. Adding too much fiber to your diet too quickly can have the exact opposite effect, so go easy. Add high-fiber foods gradually if you’re not used to eating them.
2. Stay Hydrated
The simple act of drinking more water can help alleviate a lot of uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. Bloating is no different.
Water will help keep things moving in your gastrointestinal tract, so you can avoid constipation and the inevitable bloat that goes along with it.
3. Eat Smaller Meals
Your doctor probably told you to swap your three square meals for six, and there are plenty of great reasons to heed this advice. Smaller meals are easier for your body to digest. Overloading your digestive system will only lead to more gas and bloating.
Plus, eating six small meals will help keep your body – and your baby – well nourished.
4. Take it Easy
If you have a habit of scarfing down your meal, try slowing it down and taking it easy when you eat. People who eat fast (say an entire meal in 5 minutes or less) usually swallow a whole lot of air at the same time. All of that extra air turns into gas, which leads to even more bloating.
Even if you have a packed schedule, make an effort to slow things down and eat at a more leisurely pace. You’ll give your body and your digestive system the break it needs.
5. Dress for the Part
Let’s face it – some gas and bloating comes with the pregnancy territory. Dressing for the part will at least make it a little less uncomfortable.
Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothing. Avoid wearing any clothing that’s tight near your stomach or waist.
6. Lose the Excess Air
Some of your daily habits may be causing you to take in more air, which can make your bloating even worse.
- Try not to suck on hard candies or chew gum.
- Sit up properly when you’re eating and drinking, even if you’re only having a small snack.
- Avoid drinking carbonated beverages or sweetened drinks, which can cause more gas.
- Don’t talk while you’re eating.
Also, try taking a walk after eating. Even a short walk around the block can get your sluggish digestive tract moving.
Bloating is a part of being pregnant. Progesterone is the culprit, but you don’t have to suffer until D-day. Make sure that you stay hydrated, add fiber into your diet slowly, and eat smaller meals at a more leisurely pace. While you’re at it, swap out those maternity jeans for a comfortable pair of sweats or yoga pants, and try to change your habits to avoid taking in excess air.