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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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
- high blood pressure
- edema, or swelling
Women must seek immediate medical attention if they experience these symptoms or suspect they may have preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome.
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
- nausea or vomiting
If someone is concerned about abdominal pain during pregnancy, they can call or visit their doctor.
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