do I seem to have so much gas now that I'm pregnant?
Everyone, pregnant or not, has some gas. The average person produces between 1 and 3 pints of gas each day and passes gas about 14 times a day. That said, you may experience even more gas than usual during pregnancy.
Don't be surprised if you find yourself belching like a champion beer drinker or having to unbutton your pants to relieve bloating weeks before you begin to show.
Why does this happen? The primary reason is that during pregnancy you have much higher levels of progesterone, a hormone that relaxes smooth muscle tissue throughout your body, including your gastrointestinal tract. This relaxation slows down your digestive processes, which can lead to gas, bloating, burping, and flatulence and generally create miserable sensations in your gut, especially after a big meal.
In later pregnancy, your growing uterus crowds your abdominal cavity, further slowing digestion, and pushes on your stomach, making you feel even more bloated after eating. During pregnancy, you may also start to experience heartburn or constipation, even if you've never been bothered by either one before.
Where does gas come from?
Gas gets caught in the digestive tract in two ways: when you swallow air and when bacteria in your colon (large intestine) break down undigested food. Most stomach gas results from swallowing air and is typically released by burping, though a small amount can continue down to the large intestine to be released as flatulence.
Most of the gas that causes flatulence is produced when bacteria in the large intestine break down food that was incompletely digested by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. Certain carbohydrates are the main culprits. Protein and fat aren't major gas producers, although fats, because they slow down digestion, can contribute to a sense of bloating.
How does pregnancy figure in? Pregnancy slows digestion, which gives the bacteria more time to work on the undigested material before it's excreted. More time leads to more fermentation and, as a result, more gas.
Actually, anything that slows down bowel function can mean additional gas, so constipation can also make you feel more gassy and bloated.
Some people get a lot of gas from foods that don't bother others at all. For example, people who are lactose intolerant don't make enough lactase — the enzyme that breaks down lactose (the sugar in dairy products) — so they can get bloated and gassy if they have too much milk or ice cream. Individual variation in the balance of bacteria in the colon may also affect how much gas you make, according to some experts.