What causes gas pain during pregnancy?

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By
Jamie Eske  

Reviewed
by Valinda Riggins Nwadike
Causes | Relieving gas pain | Abdominal pain in pregnancy | Outlook


Women
often have excess gas during pregnancy in addition to morning sickness and
fatigue. Gas can cause uncomfortable bloating, cramps, and abdominal pain.
This
article discusses the causes of gas in the different phases of pregnancy. We
also cover treatments and home remedies for gas, and how to tell when abdominal
pain is a cause for concern.
Causes
A
person’s body goes through many changes throughout pregnancy. These include
physical and hormonal changes that can cause excess gas.
Gas
pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain throughout the abdomen,
back, and chest. A person may also notice bloating and stomach or intestinal
cramps.
Early pregnancy
During
the first trimester of pregnancy, the body undergoes drastic hormonal changes.
The
hormones progesterone and estrogen increase significantly to thicken the
uterine lining to prepare for the growing fetus. They work as follows:

  • Progesterone
    relaxes the muscles in the body, including those of the intestines. As the
    intestines relax, the digestive system slows down significantly.
  • Raised
    levels of estrogen can cause the body to preserve water and gas. This can cause
    discomfort and pain in the abdomen.
Late pregnancy
During
the second and third trimesters, symptoms such as morning sickness and fatigue
fade, and the uterus shifts its position to accommodate the growing fetus.
As
the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the surrounding organs, causing
digestive issues, such as constipation and excess gas. This can cause
uncomfortable bloating and gas.
How to relieve gas pain in pregnancy
Although
the changes brought on by pregnancy can cause uncomfortable symptoms, these
changes are necessary for the growing fetus.
Lifestyle
changes can help reduce excess gas and lessen some of the more uncomfortable
symptoms that accompany excess gas.
Certain
dietary habits can make gas worse during pregnancy.
In
the later stages of their pregnancies, women may want to consider eating
several small meals throughout the day. Drinking water can also help improve
digestion and prevent muscle cramps.
Certain
foods are known to cause excess gas. These can include, including:

  • fried
    foods
  • beans
  • coniferous
    vegetables
  • dairy
    products, such as like milk and yogurt
  • whole
    grains
  • fructose
    and sorbitol, (an artificial sweetener)
  • carbonated
    drinks, such as like soda or sparkling water
Women
may relieve their gas pain and bloating by avoiding these foods and drinks.
Everyone responds to foods differently, so keeping a food journal is a good way
of figuring out exactly which foods cause digestive issues.
What else could cause abdominal pain in
pregnancy
Excess
gas can cause a sharp, stabbing pain in the abdomen, back, and chest. However,
abdominal pain is a common symptom of other medical conditions.
Being
aware of other conditions that might cause these symptoms can help a person
decide whether or not they need to see their doctor for abdominal pain.
Other
conditions that can cause abdominal pain during pregnancy include:
Constipation
Constipation
refers to infrequent bowel movements and unusually hard or lumpyened feces.
Constipation
is very common symptom during pregnancy. One study reports that 13 percent of
its 1,698 participants experienced had functional constipation during
pregnancy.
Constipation
can cause bloating and abdominal pain. Increasing daily fiber intake and
drinking plenty of water can reduce constipation throughout pregnancy.
A
person should reserve laxatives as a last resort and always consult a
healthcare provider before consuming any over-the-counter or prescription
medication while pregnant.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common medical condition that causes abdominal
cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation.
Women
who already have IBS may notice their symptoms worsening during their
pregnancy. Hormonal changes and stress can greatly impact IBS symptoms.
Women
who have IBS should can speak to their healthcare provider to discuss ways they
can manage their symptoms and possible changes to their medications while they
are pregnant.
Braxton-Hicks contractions
Also
known as “practice” or “false” contractions, Braxton-Hicks
contractions usually occur during the third trimester.
Unlike
labor contractions that gradually last longer and become more painful, Braxton
Hicks contractions are irregular and typically last up to 2 minutes.
Round
ligament pain
A
network of thick ligaments provides support for the uterus. As the uterus
expands, it stretches these ligaments, especially the round ligament. This
stretching can lead to a sharp pain in the lower abdomen or groin.
HELLP syndrome
HELLP
is an acronym that describes the main symptoms of the condition, namely,
hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count.
HELLP
is a potentially life-threatening condition that doctors closely relate to
another serious condition they call preeclampsia.
According
to the Preeclampsia Foundation, 5–8 percent of women develop preeclampsiathis
condition during pregnancy. Approximately 15 percent of people who have
preeclampsia develop HELLP syndrome.
Symptoms
of HELLP include:

  • pain
    in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • high
    blood pressure
  • bleeding
  • edema,
    or swelling
Women
must seek immediate medical attention if they experience these symptoms or
suspect they may have preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome.
Outlook
While
excess gas can cause uncomfortable symptoms, it is rarely a cause for concern.
Changes in dietary and eating habits can reduce excess gas.
Excess
gas can cause abdominal pain that is a common symptom of other medical
conditions.
Women
should consider speaking with a healthcare provider if they experience any of
the following symptoms:

  • pain
    or burning sensation while urinating
  • vaginal
    bleeding or spotting
  • unusual
    vaginal discharge
  • fever
  • nausea
    or vomiting
If
someone is concerned about abdominal pain during pregnancy, they can call or
visit their doctor.

SOURCE: MEDICAL NEWS TODAY
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.