Being pregnant comes with a lot of side effects, some less glamorous than others. Although you may be lucky and benefit from the pregnancy glow and great hair, it's likely you'll also experience symptoms such as bloating during pregnancy, nausea and pregnancy heartburn, constipation and trapped wind.
Trapped wind in pregnancy is normal and is actually due to one of the main pregnancy hormones, progesterone. Annoyingly, it can cause stomach pains and cramping in early pregnancy, but there are a few ways you can ease it.
Here’s everything you need to know about trapped wind in pregnancy.
Is trapped wind common in pregnancy?
It is indeed (followed by burping and farting). But the reason you’re more prone to it in pregnancy is actually down to progesterone being made by the placenta. Progesterone is created to help prepare your body for pregnancy, with one of those being to relax the bowel. When your bowel is more relaxed it’s a lot slower to move along food and gas, which in turn can lead to trapped wind. You may even find trapped wind becomes even worse as your pregnancy progresses, because as your fetus is growing, so does the pressure in your abdominal area, which creates a physical obstruction of the bowel.
What does trapped wind in pregnancy feel like?
It can be painful to experience trapped wind in pregnancy, you may feel bloated and your stomach may make rumbling or gurgling noises. Along with burping or farting to release the pressure, it may sometimes feel like a 'stitch' or period pain.
A few of the signs of trapped wind when pregnant include:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Stomach cramps and pain
• Excessive farting or burping
Foods that can cause trapped wind in pregnancy
It’s physically impossible to steer clear of trapped wind in pregnancy, however there are foods that will bring it on more than others. So if it is something you want to at least try and prevent from occurring too often, try not eating too much of the following:
• Brussel sprouts
• Dried fruit
• Spicy, sugary and fatty foods
Foods containing a lot of unrefined cereal fibre, such as bran, can also sometimes cause problems with wind and bloating. Other foods and drinks that contain a sweetener called sorbitol (such as sugar-free gum or slimming products) or a type of sugar called fructose (such as fruit juice) can also cause flatulence. Drink plenty of water, eat fibre and chew with your mouth closed to avoid swallowing air.
How to relieve trapped wind in pregnancy
While there’s sadly no magical solution to make trapped wind go away, there are a few things you can do to relieve it and try and postpone it, including:
Avoid eating big meals - eat little and often instead. Gulping down lots of air when you have consumed a big meal can actually lead to trapped wind. Instead, eat small amounts and take your time.
Peppermint tea - this is naturally free from caffeine and is safe to drink in pregnancy (as long as it’s in moderation). Anecdotally, it’s great for gas and bloating, and one study has even shown it can help relax the digestive system.
Do some light exercise - like going for a walk or pilates, as movement can help relieve any gas that’s trapped inside your body.
Can trapped wind be a sign of labour?
When you're towards the end of your pregnancy you may be concerned about how to tell if the pain from your abdomen is from trapped wind or possible contractions. If the stomach pain is mild and goes away when you change position, have a rest, go to the loo or pass wind then it's probably nothing to worry about.
Check if your pain has a rhythm – contractions come in waves, starting off milder before hitting a peak then becoming more mild again, with breaks in between them. Gas pain, on the other hand, is more constant. Also if your tummy hardens every time you're experiencing pain and then softens afterwards, it's likely a contraction, not gas.
If you have stomach pains and are worried, call your midwife or maternity hospital.