Pregnancy & Bloating
By Natalie McAdam, Nutritional Therapist and founder of Divine Nutrition.
Bloating is an uncomfortable and tight feeling in the abdomen, often accompanied by wind or flatulence, which can leave you feeling very self-conscious. Bloating is very common during pregnancy, and yet, as any pregnant woman will know, there are few medicines one can take at this time!
Steps to take to reduce bloating during pregnancy
Impact of stress
Pregnancy can be a stressful time; you will be experiencing a lot of changes and may feel very tired which can leave you susceptible to stress. Stress can impact your digestive system and cause bloating. When we are under stress we release hormones that can de-activate our digestive system and leave food hanging around in the digestive tract for longer, which can lead to bloating.
It is important to try and relax and reduce stress as much as possible, although this can be easier said than done! Yoga can be very useful, as can an ante-natal massage for reducing stress. Try sipping on Green tea, as it contains the amino acid Theanine, which has a relaxing effect on the brain.
Try to eat in a calm environment and always make sure you take your time over meals and chew your food thoroughly to prevent gulping and taking in any extra air which can also cause bloating.
As well as folic acid, taking extra B vitamins can be very useful during pregnancy as they help to ease mood swings and tearfulness that often accompany pregnancy. Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral designed for ante-natal support, which will include all of the B vitamins. I like this one from BioCare.
Pregnancy should be a fun and enjoyable experience where possible! Try to enjoy it, relax, and good health should follow.
Hormonal changes that take place during your pregnancy can lead to bloating. Progesterone is the hormone that is important to maintain a healthy pregnancy but it can also trigger bloating. This is because progesterone causes muscle tissue to relax, which can slow down digestion.
Ginger is renowned for aiding and soothing your digestion, you can have it in tea with a little honey to sweeten, or try adding more than usual to your stir fry. What’s more, ginger is a traditional remedy that has been used for morning sickness and can be very effective.
Peppermint tea is also very useful because peppermint is anti spasmodic and can therefore help reduce bloating, and abdominal cramps.
If you are constipated during your pregnancy, remember that it is vital to eat plenty of vegetables such as peppers, spinach & kale and whole grain foods such as brown rice, which not only provide essential nutrients for you and your baby, but also provide fibre. Fibre is important to help maintain regular bowel movements. Try adding a sprinkle of linseeds to your breakfast, which can provide added fibre, and essential fats that are important for you and your baby. It is important that you empty your bowels regularly to prevent constipation, which is often linked to, and sometimes a cause of, bloating. (Find out more about constipation and bloating here.)
With regards to drinks, have plenty of water to help prevent constipation and try to avoid fizzy drinks that can cause bloating.
Stress, constipation and a poor diet can affect the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut, which can lead to bloating. Try to include plenty of probiotic foods in your diet such as bio live yoghurt. Onions and garlic contain 'prebiotics' which help to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut so try to incorporate these into your meals.
A probiotic supplement is a good way to top up healthy bacteria in the gut and help to reduce bloating during pregnancy. What’s more, beneficial bacteria will be passed on to your child. Research indicates that taking probiotics during pregnancy may help to reduce IgE associated allergies in children. (Kuitunen, M et al. 2009). Probiotics are safe to take during pregnancy, unless the manufacturer states otherwise. If you're looking for a good product to support your own digestive health, and that of your baby at the same time, take a look at 'For babies and children' by OptiBac Probiotics.
Full reference: Kuitunen, M. et al. Probiotics prevent IgE-associated allergy until age 5 years in cesarean-delivered children but not in the total cohort. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol. 123, February 2009, pp. 335-41.
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