Trapped wind, farting and burping in pregnancy

Bloating, belching and trumping like a 5 year old on a baked beans-only diet - here's what you need to know about this uncomfy and painful pregnancy symptom

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Let’s face it, we all fart. In fact, the average person apparently passes wind about 15 times a day – some more discreetly than others! And when you’re pregnant, things get much worse and you may find, um, air escaping from both ends rather more than usual. But don’t worry, it’s all just another normal part of pregnancy. Yay.

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As if to prove our point, Kimmy_xxx, when she was 34 weeks pregnant, wrote on our trapped wind forum thread, “I’ve got the most horrendous pain in my right side and my back…around where my ribs are. I was literally screaming with the pain last night and being sick with it too. My tummy was tightening so I went to the hospital in the early hours of the morning to get checked out and the baby is fine.

“The pain went away but it’s now come back this afternoon and I’m in absolute agony. The only thing I can think it is is trapped wind as it hurts more when I breathe…and obviously I can’t stop breathing HA! Has anyone had this and how do I get rid of it? Please help me. I’ve tried paracetamol, antacid tablets and a hot water bottle and nothing has worked!”

To which MrsShrekham replied, “Mints! I’ll stand over here if that’s OK with you, Kimmy! *moves a safe distance in case Kimmy blows* lol. Sorry hun x”

But all jokes aside – why does pregnancy give me wind?

Sorry. It’s just that wind (trapped or breaking) just sounds funny, don’t you think? Even the word fart is guaranteed to make most of us smile – especially if it’s said in a crisp American accent.

So, anyway. Ahem. Why is excess wind such an issue when we’re expecting? Well, it’s down to the pregnancy hormone progesterone, really. During early pregnancy progesterone levels increase and one effect of this is to relax the smooth muscle tissue in your stomach and intestines. The result is wind, bloating, and pain in your stomach, especially after you’ve eaten.

But it’s not just hormones. Obstetrician Dr Claire Hein says, “Hormones can play a role in trapped wind in pregnancy but diet is also very important. The bloating [another common pregnancy symptom] can make the bowel sluggish. This can be exacerbated by a diet poor in fibre and roughage – some pregnancy cravings can mean we favour chocolate and cake rather than fruit and vegetables.”

Many mums-to-be find that wind gets worse towards the end of your pregnancy, because as your baby gets bigger he or she can press on your stomach, which slows down digestion.

Take Sweetypie who revealed what worked for her. “Peppermint or mint tea and lots of moving around, even though it hurts. One day I was doubled up in the bathroom convinced I was having a heart attack, I was just about to call 999 when I burped – what joy!”

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So is it because of something I’m eating?

Maybe. Burping is mostly caused by air that gets trapped in your digestive tract. Trumping, however, is produced when food that’s not digested properly is broken down in the large intestine by bacteria.

Common triggers can be certain carbohydrates and some fats. But it’s worth remembering that everyone is different and that what affects one person might not have the same effect on another.

MummyG3 says, “I had it really bad once and thought I was going to explode. I had lots of Gaviscon and eventually it went away. I’d had pasta that evening so now I try to avoid anything like that and eat really small meals as I’m so scared of it happening again.”

Windy foods to avoid if you get trapped wind

Unabsorbable carbohydrates are particularly evil in the farting stakes. Nominees for Windiest Food In Pregnancy are:

  • beans
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • artichokes
  • raisins
  • onions
  • pulses
  • lentils
  • prunes
  • apples
  • Brussel sprouts

Definitely not feeling fruity…

Mrs PP84 says too much fresh fruit gives her gas, as our US friends call it, so she advises us to “avoid certain foods that are known to bloat/encourage trapped wind. I avoid apples like the plague (too much fresh fruit gives me trapped air).” And that’s because fructose – the natural sugar found in fruit and fruit juices – can give you wind.

Pregnancy-safe ways to relieve trapped wind, phew

Trapped wind can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes very painful whether you’re pregnant or not. And while changing your diet can go some way to easing the symptoms, thankfully there are other ways to ease the discomfort.

Walking and light exercise “I had awful trapped wind yesterday,” says LH86. “It was so painful so I went for a little walk around the house and did some stuff and it seemed to ease off a bit.”

Eat slowly However ravenous you might be feeling,d on’t wolf down your food. Chew it slowly and let all that saliva in your mouth do its job before swallowing.

Rocking on the toilet! “I’m 7 weeks pregnant and have the worst trapped wind and up 2/3 times in the night with pains in my tummy,” says Jools2. “The doc told me to sit on loo and rock! This dislodges any trapped air.”

Drink peppermint or ginger tea Both mint and ginger can calm churning tummies and soothe gas pains. They’re safe to drink in pregnancy – find out which other herbal teas are fine to drink when pregnant.

Medicines Dr Hein says, “Medications safe to take in pregnancy include peppermint water, Lactulose and Buscopan – see your doctor for advice and prescription for Lactulose and Buscopan.”

And if all else fails… LLou suggests, Go over on to all fours with your forearms resting on the floor and your head down and rock gently back and forth, that should shift it!”

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