Why do I have so much more gas during pregnancy?
The main reason your body makes more gas during pregnancy is because you have much more progesterone, a hormone that relaxes muscles throughout your body, including your digestive tract. These relaxed muscles slow down digestion, which can lead to gas, bloating, burping, and flatulence, and generally create uncomfortable sensations in your gut, especially after a big meal.
People normally pass gas a dozen or so times a day. But when you’re pregnant, you may belch or pass gas much more often, or have to unbutton your pants to relieve bloating, even weeks before you begin to show. Later in pregnancy, your growing uterus crowds your abdominal cavity, further slowing digestion, and pushes on your stomach, making you feel even more bloated after eating.
This is why you may also have heartburn or constipation during pregnancy, even if you’ve never been bothered by these conditions before.
What causes gas?
Gas gets caught in the digestive tract in two ways: when you swallow air and when bacteria in your large intestine (colon) break down undigested food. Most stomach gas results from swallowing air and is typically released by burping, though a small amount continues down to the large intestine and is released when you fart. Most of the gas that causes flatulence is produced when bacteria in the large intestine break down food that was incompletely digested by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine.
Certain carbohydrates are the main culprits of flatulence. Protein and fats produce little gas directly, although fats can contribute to a sense of bloating and gassiness because they slow down digestion.
Some people get a lot of gas from foods that don’t bother others at all. For example, people with lactose intolerance get bloated and gassy after having dairy products like milk or ice cream. That’s because they don’t make enough lactase – the enzyme that breaks down the sugar (lactose) in dairy products. The balance of bacteria in the colon, which varies from person to person, may also affect how much gas you make.
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