Bloating and gas during pregnancy

Gas and bloating in pregnancy are extremely common, thanks to increased levels of progesterone in your body. Here are some ways to get relief.

A pregnant woman sitting on the edge of a bed with her hands on her stomach
Photo credit: iStock / Wavebreakmedia

What causes gas – and is gas a sign of pregnancy?

Chances are, you may have noticed some bloating in early pregnancy. You can thank gas for that, which enters your digestive tract when you swallow air or makes its presence known when bacteria in your large intestine breaks down undigested carbohydrates. (This is why some foods and drinks can make you gassier than others.)

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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Certain carbs are the main culprits of gas. Protein and fats produce little gas directly, although fats can contribute to a sense of bloating because they slow down digestion.

Bloating and gas can both be early signs of pregnancy. If you're not usually gassy and suddenly you're tooting constantly, pay attention (or at least take a pregnancy test). And be prepared: The gas may persist through your entire pregnancy.

Why do I have so much pregnancy bloating and gas?

Gas during pregnancy is very common. When you're pregnant, your body churns out progesterone, a hormone that relaxes all your muscles, including the ones in your digestive tract. These relaxed muscles slow down digestion, which can lead to more-than-usual gas, bloating, burping, and flatulence, especially after you've had a big meal.

People normally pass gas by burping or farting a dozen or so times a day. But when you're pregnant, you may find yourself doing that much more often. You may also end up having to unbutton your pants throughout the day to relieve bloating, even weeks before your pregnancy begins to show.

Beyond that first-trimester bloating, your expanding uterus begins to crowd your abdominal cavity, which can also slow digestion and put pressure on your stomach, making you feel even more bloated after eating. This is why you may also experience heartburn or constipation during pregnancy, even if you've never been bothered by these conditions before.


Foods to avoid to help relieve pregnancy bloating and gas

Some pregnancy bloating and gas may be inevitable, but cutting back on the foods that are more likely to cause gas can be an effective way to reduce some of it. That said, you can't eliminate everything that might cause gas (like every single carb in the world, for example), or else you wouldn't have a balanced pregnancy diet.

Start by cutting out some foods that are most likely to cause gas and bloating. If you notice some relief, begin adding those foods back into your diet one-by-one, so you can try to pinpoint what's causing the problem. Keeping a food diary can help you figure out if certain foods seem to make you gassier than others.

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Some common causes of gas include:

  • Beans, whole grains, and certain vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus. These all contain the sugar raffinose, which makes a lot of people gassy.
  • Fructose. This sugar occurs naturally in certain foods, including leeks, onions, artichokes, dried fruit, ketchup, pears, apples, honey, wheat, and fruit juice. High fructose corn syrup is a fructose that's frequently added to processed foods and many sodas and fruit drinks. (Carbonation also contributes to bloating.)
  • Certain starches like wheat and corn, but not rice. This is because many of us lack the enzyme needed to digest these complex carbohydrates. As a result, when they reach the colon, bacteria that lives there feasts on them, leading to gas production.
  • Some fiber-rich foods such as oat bran, beans, peas, and many fruits. These foods are normally broken down in the large intestine, leading to gas. Wheat bran, however, basically passes through your digestive system without getting broken down, so it's a good choice if you're constipated and want to add fiber without risking more flatulence.
  • Dairy products. People who are lactose intolerant get gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain from eating dairy products. If you're only mildly lactose intolerant, you might not have noticed any symptoms – until you boosted your consumption of dairy products during pregnancy. If you suspect dairy products are the problem, try lactose-free milk or calcium-fortified soy milk. (If you aren't drinking any kind of milk, you'll probably need to take a calcium supplement. Also, ask your provider if you're getting enough vitamin D from your prenatal vitamin.)
  • High-fat and fried foods. This type of fare takes longer to digest, which means they're more likely to hang out in your colon and produce gas.

Other ways to relieve gas during pregnancy

In addition to adjusting your diet, here are more ways to relieve gas during pregnancy:

  • Don't eat big meals. Instead, eat several small meals throughout the day.
  • Take your time and chew thoroughly. Don't talk while you're eating.
  • Limit how much you drink during meals. Drink regularly throughout the day instead.
  • Drink from a cup or a glass – not from a bottle or through a straw – and don't gulp.
  • Don't drink carbonated beverages.
  • Don't drink anything sweetened with the artificial sweetener sorbitol.
  • Don't chew gum or suck on hard candies.
  • Sit up while you're eating or drinking, even if you're just having a small snack.
  • Get moving. Even a brisk walk can help a sluggish digestive tract.
  • Prevent or treat constipation – it can add to flatulence and a feeling of bloating.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking during pregnancy not only contributes to many serious health problems, it also boosts stomach acidity. (Try to quit smoking before getting pregnant. If you're having trouble quitting, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a program that can help.)
  • Try prenatal yoga to learn relaxation and good breathing techniques. Some people tend to swallow more air when they're excited or anxious.

If these tips don't help, ask your healthcare provider whether you can take an over-the-counter gas remedy that contains simethicone. (Don't take activated charcoal tablets without first checking with your doctor because they may not be safe during pregnancy.)

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When to call your doctor about pregnancy gas

Most gas is just a standard part of pregnancy, but call your healthcare provider if:

  • Your intestinal discomfort ever feels more like abdominal pain or cramping.
  • You have blood in your stool.
  • You have severe diarrhea or constipation.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may notice your symptoms become more intense during pregnancy. This is likely due to changes in estrogen and progesterone production, as well as the physical pressure your growing baby places on your bowel wall. Non-drug therapies – including relaxation techniques and dietary changes like adding more fiber to your diet while cutting back on gas-producing foods – may help.


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BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

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American College of Gastroenterology. 2013. Common GI problems in women. a new window [Accessed October 2021]

American College of Gastroenterology. Undated. Digestive health tips. a new window [Accessed October 2021]

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2020. Problems of the digestive system. a new window [Accessed October 2021]

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2021. Symptoms and causes of gas in the digestive tract. a new window [Accessed October 2021]

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2021. Eating, diet, and nutrition for gas in the digestive tract. a new window [Accessed October 2021]

International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. 2014. Pregnancy and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. a new window [Accessed October 2021]

Hallie Levine
Hallie Levine is an award-winning journalist who has covered health and wellness for more than 20 years. She lives with her three children in Fairfield, Connecticut.