If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably suffered from your share of pregnancy-related discomforts. But gas pains are almost in a class by themselves in terms of making you uncomfortable and unhappy. What do gas pains mean, and how can you alleviate them?
First, it’s important to know that you will probably feel a variety of different cramps while you are pregnant, which may or may not be gas pains. Second, you will have more gas in general while you are pregnant. This is because your body has produced high levels of progesterone, which can slow down your digestive process and produce more gas and bloating. As your uterus grows and gradually begins to crowd out your stomach, you may experience more gas as your digestion is further slowed.
However, although they may be uncomfortable, gas pains are only a cause for concern if you are feeling lower abdominal pains that become severe. If the pains begin coming and going on a regular basis, you may be experiencing contractions. Additionally, if the pains you feel are accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, or blood in your stool, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Beyond that, gas pains are largely a nuisance that you can alleviate somewhat through diet and exercise. You can start by eliminating the most common culprits: beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. Some people, even those who are not lactose intolerant, become more gassy with too much dairy in their diets. Some fiber-rich wheats and grains can cause gassiness, but since you need to have healthy fiber in your diet, you should experiment with a variety of different grains to see what makes you the most comfortable. You should also eliminate fried foods, sodas, and fruit drinks, all of which do little for your body nutritionally. And of course drink plenty of water, which can help aid digestion and minimize constipation.
Next, it might help to change the way that you eat. Try to eat several small meals throughout the day and don’t eat too much at one sitting. Eat slowly, taking the time to chew and swallow your food without gulping and swallowing too much air. Don’t drink from a straw or a can if you can help it. Also, make sure you eat sitting up, as opposed to lying down on a couch or in bed.
Third, you should try to maintain a consistent exercise routine, with your doctor’s approval. When your body is moving, your digestive system gets going too. Also, try to keep your weight gain gradual and under control to minimize the amount of pressure that your growing girth puts on your digestive system.
You should avoid taking over-the-counter gas remedies unless your doctor tells you that they are OK to take while you are pregnant. Most likely, if she gives you the green light for any medication, it will be simethicone (Gas-X, Mylicon, etc.). This is the same medication that is sometimes given to infants when they have symptoms of painful tummy gas; it works by breaking up gas bubbles.
Taken together, all of these steps should alleviate the worst gas pains, but they won’t eliminate gas entirely. For that, you’ll just have to grin and bear it to make it through these nine months. Better yet, find some other pregnant moms with whom you can commiserate. Within just a few months, you won’t be talking about gas pains any more; you’ll be talking about your beautiful new babies.