During pregnancy, painful gas can result from the pressure of the expanding uterus upon your stomach and from the slowing of your digestive system. However, you should be able to lessen its occurrence with preventative measures such as small meals, an upright posture and drinking plenty of water.
As your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby, your stomach is squeezed for space, Dr. Miriam Stoppard explains in her book “Conception, Pregnancy and Birth.” At the same time, your digestion slows as a result of the relaxing effect of pregnancy hormones, sometimes leading to constipation. These factors can give rise to painful gas.
You're less likely to experience gas if you avoid crowding your stomach, so eat little and often. Dr. Philippa Kaye in her book “Pregnancy Week by Week” recommends five to six small meals a day. To help your digestion, include plenty of fiber in your diet in the form of wholegrain bread, cereals containing wheatgerm and fruit. Avoid fatty or spicy foods which may sit on the stomach. Dr. Kaye also recommends keeping up your fluids by drinking approximately two quarts of water a day – this will help prevent dry stools which are hard to pass.
Dr. Stoppard suggests sitting with an upright, elongated back. This will extend your chest cavity and make your stomach feel less crowded. Avoid slouching or slumping forward over your bump, as this might well trigger an attack of gas. Sit on a straight-backed chair that will give support rather than a sofa that will swallow you up. If you suffer from gas at night, eat nothing for an hour or so before bedtime, and then prop yourself up with pillows.
Aids to Digestion
The more smoothly your digestion works, the less likely you are to experience gas. Dr Stoppard comments that sitting very upright or even standing when eating can be helpful because gravity draws the food through your digestive system. A short gentle walk half an hour after eating, or during an attack of gas, might also help. Ginger tea also seems to have a stomach-settling effect on some pregnant women, although the University of Maryland Medical Center points out that the evidence of its benefits is inconclusive.
- Conception, Pregnancy and Birth; Dr. Miriam Stoppard
- Your Pregnancy Week by Week; Dr. Philippa Kaye
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginger