Wind is a very common pregnancy complaint that can strike in any or all trimesters. Even in very early pregnancy you might notice you’re producig more gas than usual. By your third trimester, it’s quite common to notice a significant increase. Irritating, sore and sometimes embarrassing as it is, it’s simply a normal bodily function in pregnancy. But there are some tips for easing it.
Why are you windier in pregnancy?
Wind is caused in two main ways: the slowing of the intestine and swallowing air. During pregnancy so much progesterone is created that it can slow the passage of food through your gut. When the food stays in your intestine longer, bacteria have more time to work on it, producing a build up of gas. Some foods are generally more prone than others to produce wind in this way, such as pulses, onions, cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower, bran (but not wheat bran), certain fruits and spices. Many people also find they find particular foods are difficult for them to digest but may not have noticed this until pregnancy. Common culprits include lactose in milk and dairy products and refined carbohydrates. If you already suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) then unfortunately this is likely to be exacerbated by pregnancy.
In your third trimester your growing womb puts pressure on the rest of your abdomen and can often lead to both indigestion and more wind. Trapped wind is often caused by swallowing air as you eat or drink, which is more likely to happen if you eat quickly, drink while you eat, talk while you eat, chew gum or drink fizzy drinks. This is the easiest kind of wind to prevent.
Tips to ease wind and bloating
Eat slowly and carefully
To cut down on trapped wind making you burp, avoid fizzy drinks, eat slowly and carefully to avoid swallowing air and limit the amount you drink with meals (but do get plenty of fluids outside of meal times).
Change your diet
If you keep a food diary, the causes might become quickly obvious, or it might seem like everything gives you bad wind. Try avoiding the most likely sources (such as those listed above) and then reintroduce them one by one to judge their effect. It's important though that you continue to get a balanced diet though, so don’t go mad!
Small, simple meals
You're far more likely to get wind if you eat big meals, with lots of different food types that overload your digestive system. Try eating smaller meals more often and keeping the meals simpler so that your digestive tract can produce the right enzymes to effectively digest the food.
Exercise gets your intestines working faster. A brisk walk is enough to have an effect on your digestion, so if you spend most of your day stuck in front of a computer, try getting off your bum and getting out for a walk.
Stimulate your intestines
Wheat bran isn't digested by the body at all, so it's very effective at stimulating the intestines without being broken down into wind. You might want to consider incorporating wheat bran into your breakfast to promote digestion, particularly if you're also constipated (which is also common in pregnancy).
Hot water and lemon
Yes, the old fashioned diet aid makes a comeback. It's a good idea to get your digestive system active in the morning before you confront it with food. Starting the day with a cup of warm water, or better, warm water with lemon juice twenty minutes before you eat breakfast will help wake your system up as will a little morning exercise.
Give your body room
If you're bloated and windy then relieve the pressure by loosening your clothing, rather than trying to belt it all up.
Natural digestive aids
Sipping a cup of warm water, warm water with lemon, peppermint tea or fennel tea can help relieve wind and promote digestion.
Wind at night
If you're being kept awake with uncomfortable wind at night then try getting up and walking around to release the wind. Slowly sipping warm water or peppermint tea may help. If you wear pajamas then try loosening them or wear a nightie instead to take pressure off your abdomen.
If nothing seems to help reduce wind and indigestion then you could talk to your doctor about a suitable medication. Several indigestion tablets are safe for use during pregnancy, but always check.
Could it be something more serious?
It's most likely that your wind is just one of the less appealing sides of pregnancy, however, if along with the wind you feel pain in your abdomen, start feeling nauseous and vomiting or see blood when you pass a bowel movement, then you should tell your doctor.
Get tips for other pregnancy discomforts