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Causes of bloating in pregnancy

In early pregnancy, before the uterus is big enough to crowd the intestines, the increased levels of progesterone cause the smooth muscle tissue in the body which includes the gastrointestinal tract to relax which slows down digestion. This provides more time for intestinal gas to be produced which can lead to feeling of bloating which can result in excess wind.

As the uterus is growing, intestines are shifted and are crowded in the abdomen which slows the metabolism even more.  In later pregnancy the uterus puts pressure on the stomach and digestive system which increases the feeling of bloating. 

The relaxing effect that progesterone has on the muscles can leave you less able to control the passing of gas.

Coping with bloating

  • Eat healthily and drink plenty of water to avoid constipation, which can aggravate bloating during pregnancy.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals, six small meals instead of three large ones which will put less pressure on your digestive system than a large meal which may make you uncomfortable. 
  • Slow down when eating as eating quickly can make you swallow air with food which may form gas pockets in your stomach. Also, chewing thoroughly is better for the digestion. 
  • Watch out for food and avoid the kinds that tend to cause gas, such as fried or fatty foods, onions, cauliflower and cabbage – you will find what suits you best and what causes discomfort – follow your instincts and experience with this.
  • Watch out for drinks and avoid the kinds that tend to cause gas. If milk is one of the culprits, then it may be better to drink it icy cold. Also carbonated drinks should be limited. 
  • Take on regular physical activity, because it can stimulate digestion and help keep bowel movements regular.

If you are complaining that gas feels more like abdominal pain, or you are having severe diarrhoea or notice blood in your stools, then you should consult your ob-gyn right away.

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