Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood
Thanks to progesterone, your intestines relax during pregnancy, making digestion less efficient and increasing the time fecal matter stays in the intestines by up to 30 percent. The pressure of the uterus on the abdominal cavity also slows digestion. This can all cause constipation, which leads to a buildup of gas that can burst out your northern or southern orifices — sometimes smelling like sulfur. Female gas actually tends to smell more sulfur-y than man-gas because our farts have a higher concentration of hydrogen sulfide. Adding to our lady-luck is the fact that even if we’re not constipated, those relaxed bowels make it tricky to control gas leaks.
During my pregnancy naps, I was often awakened by belly-rumbling sulfur toots so smelly I would sometimes lose my lunch. Who says pregnancy isn’t glamorous?
While all the gas can make you blush, it also has some benefits:
- It’s a sign you’re staying on top of your fruits and veggies.
- The slow moves of your intestines allow more time for your body to absorb nutrients from food.
- Farting and burping in front of your partner — or other loved ones — can be a strangely bonding experience, as it’s an ultimate sign of comfort.
- Letting it rip with abandon actually makes your kisser more desirable, as holding in farts can make the breath stink.
What to do
Despite the benefits of passing gas, having too much of it gurgling around can be uncomfortable. The primary way to lessen that discomfort is revving up digestion. There are numerous ways to do that:
- Move it or snooze it. A stagnant body usually leads to sleepy bowels. Get things going by talking to your care provider about an exercise plan that’s safe for your unique circumstances. Getting in thirty minutes of exercise every day is often enough to keep the intestines chugging along at a gas-minimizing rate.
- Investigate your diet. If you notice that your gassiness intensifies after eating certain foods, consider eliminating them from your diet, or at least decreasing your intake. Foods that are especially gas-inducing include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, onions, lentils, pork, fried foods, and artificial sweeteners. Many people also experience gas after consuming dairy or gluten. To support this recon mission, keep a food journal for a week, recording which meals made you burp or fart. Also know that you may experience more gassiness after taking your prenatal vitamin.
- Soften your stools. Hard fecal matter leads to constipation, which leads to all the fun I’ve been outlining. Prevent brown bricks and pebbles from forming in your intestines by drinking plenty of water and consuming twenty-five to thirty grams of fiber every day, as fiber infuses the intestines with water. Prunes, bananas, figs, flax and chia seeds, blackberries, avocados, leafy greens, pears, and apples are all fiber-full. Fiber supplements can also provide a quick fix. Because I’m a lady blessed with lazy bowels with or without a bun in the oven, I start every day with prunes and Metamucil. My morning sex appeal is almost too much to handle.
- Chew your food. As one cause of gas is bacteria in the large intestine breaking down food that wasn’t fully digested by enzymes in the stomach, adding to your chew count can lower your burp and fart count. Aim for chewing each bite of soft foods at least ten times, and denser foods at least thirty times.
In addition, slowing down your chewing (and drinking) and minimizing talking while eating can help limit the amount of air you swallow.
- Eat smaller meals. Noshing on six small meals, instead of three big ones, spreads out the load your digestive system has to work through, minimizing backlog.
- Sleep on your left side. This position aids digestion, helping you wake up ready to poo.
- Say yes to the muumuu. Staying away from tight clothing — especially articles that squeeze the waist — allows your bowels to pulsate without restriction. In addition, loose clothing can reduce discomfort from bloating.
- Filtered panties. That’s right folks, filtered panties are a thing, and a thing that can alleviate fear when feeling a big one coming on and thinking, “Will it, or will it not, be a stinker?” If you’re worried about the sound: A trick I often utilize is pretending like I’m talking to someone on my cell phone and letting out a laugh as I simultaneously let out the toot. You’re welcome.
- Air freshener. If you’re still concerned with the smell after donning those filtered panties, do as I did and carry around an on-the-go bottle of an essential oil air freshener.
- Seek professional care. If you experience constipation or abdominal pain for more than a week or feel like you’re rarely able to have a complete bowel movement, alert your care provider.
Let it be known that even if your bowels are always on their A-game, you’re still going to burp and fart, sometimes without warning. While it can feel embarrassing, know that it matters to you way more than it does to other people. Sure, others may clock your toot or belch, but they’ll likely spend only a second considering it, thinking, “Oh, so-and-so just farted/burped. But who cares? They’re pregnant.” Even when you’re not pregnant, who cares? We all do it. It’s been found that, on average, many people produce four pints of gas and fart up to twenty times every day.