Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — Written by Charlotte Lillis on September 24, 2018
"Many women experience gas during pregnancy. It usually goes away on its own, but home remedies can help ease discomfort and reduce the quantity of gas.
Raised levels of the hormone progesterone relax the intestines during pregnancy. This relaxation slows digestion, making constipation more likely and often leading to bloating, belching, and flatulence.
A woman may also experience more gas during the later stages of pregnancy, when the growing fetus places additional pressure on the abdominal cavity.
While it is impossible to prevent gas during pregnancy, several safe home remedies can reduce gas and relieve discomfort. Many of these prevent constipation, which significantly contributes to gas.
1. Drinking plenty of water
The United States National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, recommend that pregnant women drink around 10 cups, or 2.3 liters, of water a day.
Drinking water before or after a meal helps the stomach digest food. Any undigested food passes into the small intestines, where bacteria break it down, producing gas in the process. Staying hydrated can, therefore, help reduce the buildup of gas.
Hydration can also prevent constipation, another cause of gas. When a person is dehydrated, their stool becomes dry and hard. Drinking plenty of water keeps stool soft, helping it pass more easily through the colon.
Also, it is best to sip slowly, rather than gulp. People are more likely to swallow air when they gulp, which can contribute to gas.
2. Avoiding certain drinks
Some people experience gas when they drink beverages containing the following ingredients:
Carbon dioxideCarbon dioxide is a gas in a wide range of drinks, including:
The added sugars or artificial sweeteners in many carbonated drinks can also contribute to intestinal gas.
Fructose is a natural sugar that occurs in most fruits. Manufacturers often add fructose to a variety of desserts and drinks.
Some people are unable to digest fructose. In this case, the sugar can ferment in the large intestine, causing gas and bloating. The medical term for this digestive disorder is fructose malabsorption.
Sorbitol is a low-calorie sugar substitute. However, the body is unable to digest sorbitol. Some people experience abdominal pain, bloating, and gas as a result.
3. Keeping a food diary
During pregnancy, many women choose to eat a more healthful diet. Many healthful foods are rich in fiber, and adding them to the diet can increase the amount of gas in the short term.
Some high-fiber foods also contain complex carbohydrates called oligosaccharides. When bacteria in the gut break down oligosaccharides, they produce nitrogen gas. Some people are more sensitive to this effect than others.
Foods that contain oligosaccharides include:
4. Eating more fiber
Although high-fiber foods can increase gas in the short term, over time they help to reduce constipation, which is a major cause of intestinal gas.
Fiber achieves this by drawing in water and softening stool. This eases its passage through the intestines, speeding digestion and giving gas less time to build up.
If a person is switching to a high-fiber diet, the following strategies can help prevent temporary increases in gas: