Does that deceive me or have I been bloated since I was pregnant?Everyone, whether pregnant or not, sometimes has flatulence. You may be surprised, but each person needs to breathe in his flatulence about fifteen times a day and up to 40 times a day is considered normal (CKS 2007a). During pregnancy, these values may increase. Do not be surprised if you have to knock open like a world champion in beer drinking or if you have to open your trouser button because of the strong belly swelling, even though you do not even have a baby tummy.
The cause is the high dose of the hormone progesterone your body produces at the beginning of pregnancy (CKS 2006). This hormone relaxes the soft muscle tissue in your body, including your gastrointestinal tract, and slows down the digestive process. This can cause more flatulence and regurgitation, as well as unpleasant feelings of fullness, especially after a rich meal.
In the later months of pregnancy, your growing uterus compresses your stomach cavity, causing a further slowing of digestion and pressing on your stomach. This ensures an even greater feeling of fullness and a bloated stomach after eating. You may also suffer from heartburn or constipation (CKS 2006, CKS 2008), even if you have never had any problems with it.
Where does bloating come from?There are two ways in which the gases are produced in the digestive tract. They arise once when you swallow air. In addition, winds are a normal waste product when food in the gut is dissected by the bacteria. Mostly, gases in the stomach are produced by swallowed air, and the body gets rid of them by belching. Smaller amounts of air reach the colon and are released at the other end.
However, most of the bloating is caused by the fact that food in the stomach and small intestine has not been completely digested by enzymes and therefore has to be broken down into its constituents in the large intestine by the bacteria there. The main reason for this are certain carbohydrates. Protein and fat do not produce much flatulence. However, some fats can contribute to the feeling of fullness, as they delay the time it takes for the stomach to empty.
Will I get rid of the bloating if I feed myself differently?The best way to reduce these problems during pregnancy is to restrict the foods that cause flatulence in the first place. But if you give up everything that causes winds in the gut, it becomes difficult to ensure a balanced diet.You might start by eliminating the best-known culprits from your shopping list. If that relieves you, you could gradually eat these foods again and try to figure out which things are going to be the biggest problem for you personally. A food diary can help figure out links between individual foods and flatulence.
The foods most likely to cause problems are:
- Brussels sprouts
In other people, starchy foods like noodles and potatoes trigger flatulence. Incidentally, this does not apply to rice. High-fiber foods such as oatmeal, beans and many fruits can also cause intestinal gas, as they are normally processed in the colon. One exception is the wheat bran that passes through the digestive system without being broken down into its components. (That's why wheat bran is ideal if you have constipation, need more fiber, and also suffer from flatulence.)
And finally, you should avoid foods that are very fatty or deep-fried. They do not cause flatulence, but they can increase the feeling of fullness, because they slow down the digestive process.
What else can I do about flatulence?The following suggestions against general digestive discomfort can help you reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms:
- Do not eat large meals but instead distribute several small meals throughout the day (CKS 2006; CKS 2007a & c),
- Do not swallow your food (and air). Take time to chew carefully. This helps the body to digest faster (CKS 2007a & c).
- Eat less frequently foods that you know will make your digestive problems worse (CKS 2007a). Common causes include certain vegetables such as beans and broccoli (see above). But you should not completely abstain from doing so as part of a healthy diet.
- Sit or stand upright when eating or drinking, even if it's just a snack. Your stomach should not be squeezed when it needs to digest (CKS 2007c).
- Avoid products containing sorbitol found in certain types of chewing gum and diet foods. This sweetener affects digestion, causing belching, bloating and diarrhea (CKS 2007a, Jain et al 1985).
- High-fructose fructose may also cause flatulence, so it is better not to take more than 60g per day.
- Stay on the move - even a walk helps a sluggish digestive system on the jumps (CKS 2007a, CKS 2008).
- Stop smoking (ideally before pregnancy!) And do not chew chewing gum. Both produce more saliva, which means you have to swallow more frequently (CKS 2007a).
- Avoid carbonated, coffee and / or beer drinks (CKS 2007a).
- Wear wide, comfortable clothing and avoid any constricting clothing around your hips and stomach (CKS 2007c).
- Yoga can help you relax and breathe better. (Some people swallow more air when they are agitated or anxious and then hyperventilate easily.)
Can painful flatulence also be a warning sign?Talk to your doctor or midwife if your symptoms are more like severe abdominal pain or cramps, especially if it's concentrated on one side only. You should also seek medical advice if you have severe diarrhea or constipation, or if your nausea and vomiting increase significantly.
Do not forget to download our free app for interesting daily information about your pregnancy. ""My Baby Today"" gives you all the expert-tested answers you need - always at hand!
CKS. 2008. Clinical topic: Dyspepsia - pregnancy-associated. NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries. www. cks. nhs. uk [as of July 2011]
CKS. 2011. Clinical topic: Constipation. NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries. www. cks. library. nhs. uk [as of July 2011]
Jain NK, Rosenberg DB, Ulahannan MJ, et al. 1985. Sorbitol intolerance in adults. At J Gastroenterol 80 (9): 678-81
NHS. 2011. Flatulence. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. www. nhs. uk [as of July 2011]
NHS. 2010a. Indigestion. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. www. nhs. uk [as of July 2011]
NHS. 2010b. Lactose intolerance. NHS Choices, Health A-Z. www. nhs. uk [as of July 2011]
NICE. 2008. Antenatal care: Routine care for the healthy pregnant woman. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. www. rcog. org. uk [pdf file, July 2011]
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