Bloating is something many women experience, regardless of whether they’re pregnant. Unfortunately for pregnant women, the bloated feeling only seems to intensify and worsen as the months pass. The bloated feeling is sometimes accompanied by nausea. You may feel like you’ve eaten too much, or have excess gas.
During pregnancy your levels of progesterone increase. Progesterone is a hormone that relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal tract. This relaxation slows down your digestive processes, which can lead to bloating and other gas-related issues, creating miserable sensations in your gut, especially after a big meal. As your pregnancy continues, and your uterus grows, it begins to compete for space with your intestines and stomach, which also makes you feel bloated.
Because your digestive system is especially fragile early in pregnancy, you will often have the bloated feeling. Luckily there are some things you can do to help prevent bloating:
Eat foods high in fiber: Whole-wheat toast, carrots, apples, oatmeal, whole-grain bagels, and pears are all good sources of fiber and perfect for snacking. The fiber absorbs the water in your digestive system and helps move the food through your intestines. Other helpful foods are rice, leafy greens, and yams.
Exercise daily: Taking walks or doing simple exercises like pelvic rocks can help you release the gas that is building up inside of you. Walking stimulates your digestive system, especially after eating.
Drink more water: Believe it or not, water is actually good for you when you feel bloated; it helps flush out your system and prevents bloating and swelling.
Say NO to refined sugars: Many women develop a sweet tooth while pregnant, and for some reason refined sugars affect many pregnant women. Fresh fruits such as bananas, peaches, and apricots are better ways to satisfy a craving than drinking soda or eating candy.
Eat smaller portions: Eating smaller portions can be difficult when you’re pregnant, but it helps to reduce bloated feelings throughout the day. The goal is not to overload your digestive system, and you can do this by reducing portions while eating more times per day.
Eat more slowly: Mom always said, “Chew your food before swallowing!” Well, she was right, and it’s especially important when you’re pregnant. You want to eat more slowly to give each bite a chance to settle and make its way into the digestive tract. Again, you don’t want to overload your digestive system. Also, when you eat quickly you are more likely to swallow air.
Avoid gassy foods: Certain foods are known to trigger gas, and even though we crave these foods, it’s best to stay away from them as much as possible to avoid getting bloated. These foods include onions, beans, and cabbage. You may have your own foods that are infamous for giving you gas, and you should avoid those too.
Avoid stressful situations: Tension can cause us to swallow too much air. Try relaxing more, and avoid talking about subjects that upset you.
Avoid fried foods: Fried and fatty foods aren’t known to cause gas by themselves, but they are known to slow down your digestive process — which gives you gas. Further slowing your already-slowed digestive system can increase your bloating.