Are you feeling quite bloated lately? Bloating is a pregnancy symptom that will affect 100 percent of mothers-to-be at some point in their 40-week journey. Bloating is caused by pregnancy gas – the excess gas that’s stuck in your intestines.
Bloating can make your tummy feel swollen, and it can make your belly look even further along than it actually is. When you’re bloated and pregnant, you are probably cranky and feeling quite uncomfortable. After all, no woman wants to feel like a hot air balloon. Bloating comes with lots of abdominal discomfort, and it also makes you feel gassy and just plain yucky.
Bloating in Early Pregnancy
It’s normal to feel bloated in early pregnancy. In fact, bloating is often considered one of the first signs of pregnancy. The heavy, bloated feeling that you experience in the first trimester is similar to how you bloat during PMS – only this bloating is 10 times worse.
Bloating in early pregnancy is often accompanied with headaches, irritability, and mild cramping. This is normal, though it’s an unpleasant sensation.
Although most women won’t be showing (or looking pregnant) until the second trimester, if you’re quite bloated, you can look a lot further along than you actually are. Bloating can cause you to develop a little “pooch” in your belly. For some pregnant women, bloating can force them to wear maternity clothes in the first trimester.
What Causes Bloating in Pregnancy?
Bloating and gas are caused by hormonal changes – the rise in the hormone progesterone, in particular. (Progesterone is vital to maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and your developing baby requires it to grow big and strong. But this hormone can wreck havoc on other parts of your body.)
In the first trimester, progesterone surges in order to keep the placenta working properly, and to keep the lining of your uterus healthy and thick, so that your baby can have a perfect place to grow. An unfortunate consequence of progesterone is that it causes your gastrointestinal tract and all the smooth tissue in your pregnant body to relax. So, your digestion slows down, which makes it easier for gas to get trapped in the GI tract.
And with gas comes bloating.
How to Beat Pregnancy Bloating
Bloating will only get worse as your pregnancy continues. You’re just going to have to deal with that “I ate way more than I needed to” throughout your pregnancy. As your uterus gets larger, it will start to press on your intestines and stomach, which will slow down digestion even further and increases gas and bloating in pregnancy.
Fortunately, there are a number of dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make to get relief from your bloating and gassiness.
Eat fiber-rich foods – Constipation plays a role to contributing to gas and bloating. So, you’ll want to avoid becoming constipated, and therefore preventing bloating, by eating fiber-rich foods into your diet. Consider snacking on healthy fiber-rich fruits like dried plums, blueberries, and strawberries. Be careful not to add too much fiber into your diet all at once, since your body needs to get used to the increased fiber.
Opt for small, frequent meals – When you’re pregnant, eating three larger meals can easily leave you feeling bloated and gassy. To give your digestive system a boost, don’t overload it by eating too much at once. Aim for eating smaller, frequent meals throughout the day. Six mini-meals will be more stomach-friendly.
Slow down when you eat – Don’t try to eat too fast, since this will make you swallow air, which only increases your gassiness and bloating. Help out your your digestive system and chew all of your food thoroughly.
Exercise -Get your bowels moving with exercise. Even a brisk 10 or 15 minute walk or jog can relieve your uncomfortable pregnancy bloating. Exercise makes it easier for gas to make its way through your digestive system, allowing you to feel less bloated more quickly.
Drink lots of water – Keeping hydrated during the day is beneficial for many reasons, but it will also decrease bloating and gas. Water helps flush out waste from your body, and it gets everything moving along. As a result, you’re less constipated and not feeling so bloated.
Don’t eat fattening or fried foods – This is just common sense, but eating fattening or fried foods when you’re pregnant will only make you more bloated. It’s harder for your already sluggish stomach to digest fried foods in pregnancy. Cut these out of your diet, and you’ll be feeling less bloated in no time.