Feeling like you’re about to pop but you’re only in your first trimester?
Early pregnancy bloating is one of the first symptoms you may experience, but it can be annoying and uncomfortable.
While pregnancy hormones might be to blame, other factors, like your changing diet, can also play a role. Luckily, there’s a few things you can do to help limit bloating.
In this guide, we’re sharing 11 remedies to help manage early pregnancy bloating.
Bloating in Pregnancy
Bloating happens when liquid, gas, or solids build up in your body. This can leave your stomach feeling overly full and stretched.
Most people experience bloating at some time or another, but it can be particularly common during pregnancy. It often starts in the first trimester and can get worse as your pregnancy progresses.
Although annoying, bloating during pregnancy usually isn’t a cause for concern. And it’s probably more common than you think. About 49% of pregnant women report bloating, according to one study.
Bloating in EARLY Pregnancy
Bloating during early pregnancy is less common but can happen. Although the worst of bloating is usually saved for the later stages, some people start experiencing it after a positive pregnancy result.
In fact, bloating can be one of the first signs you’re pregnant. However, it’s often excused as PMS bloating. Those who experience bloating in early pregnancy may notice abdominal bloating and some puffiness on the face, hands, or feet.
Too much bloating this early on isn’t normal, so contact your doctor if it’s excessive or accompanied by other symptoms.
Causes of Bloating in Early Pregnancy
Causes of bloating during early pregnancy include:
- Rising progesterone. The hormone progesterone increases quickly in the first trimester. This affects your digestion, making it work more slowly than usual, sometimes causing constipation or trapped gas. Unfortunately, this can cause early abdominal bloating.
- Diet changes. If you’ve made changes to your diet, it may be contributing to your bloating. Pregnancy cravings for salty snacks can trigger puffiness or make existing swelling even worse. You might also introduce foods you typically avoid, like dairy. If your stomach is sensitive, new food choices could be to blame.
- Fiber intake. In an effort to boost your health, you might also boost your fiber intake. Although this is a good idea, if you add too much too fast, it can bulk up your stool, making it difficult to pass. This can lead to bloating.
- If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may notice it getting worse during pregnancy.
Remedies for Bloating in Early Pregnancy
Since bloating is a normal symptom in early pregnancy, there’s no surefire way to prevent it. Pregnancy hormones likely contribute to your bloating, so it’s a symptom to manage rather than eliminate.
With that being said, there’s a few things you can try to reduce bloating and make yourself more comfortable.
It might sound counterintuitive—won’t drinking water bloat you more? But staying hydrated can help bloating in a few ways:
- Prevents dehydration. Dehydration can cause fluid retention, making you more bloated.
- Flush out excess sodium. Sodium can cause bloating but water can help flush the excess out of your system. Make sure to stick to water since juices and sodas can add even more sodium, increasing bloating.
- Helps constipation. If you have abdominal bloating from early pregnancy constipation, water can help get things moving. Getting enough fluids can help your stools soften enough to pass through the colon.
If you have trouble drinking enough water, try adding a few fruit slices to flavor it. Also consider carrying a reusable water bottle wherever you go, increasing your chances of staying hydrated.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise can help with constipation, which may be causing early pregnancy abdominal bloating. Getting your body moving may encourage your digestive tract to get moving too, decreasing bloating. (For more tips on pregnancy and constipation, read Constipation in Pregnancy: 7 Fixes.)
It’s best to set aside time to exercise as well as incorporate it throughout your day. Using work breaks to take a quick walk around the office can encourage your digestive system to keep things moving. Even choosing to take the stairs or walk further through a parking lot may help to discourage bloating.
Looking for exercise ideas during pregnancy? Read our guides below:
- 7 Exercises to Make Labor Easier and Less Painful
- 11 Easy and Super Fun Pregnancy Exercise Ideas That You’ll Actually Do
- Prenatal Yoga: Your Ultimate Guide
Eat Fewer Gas-Causing Foods
If you’re dealing with abdominal bloating, aim to limit foods that cause gas, including:
- Brussel Sprouts
Eat Smaller Meals
Another tip to manage bloating is to eat several small meals instead of 3 large meals. When we have big meals, it can be difficult for our bodies to process all at once. Having small meals more frequently can prevent your digestive system from being overburdened, causing less gas.
Along with eating smaller meals, try to make a conscious effort to eat slower. Eating too quickly can cause you to swallow extra air, which turns into gas and bloating.
When you eat, try to focus on eating and relaxing. Doing a stressful task during a meal (ex. checking emails) can cause you to be less mindful and eat faster.
Avoid Drinking Coffee
During pregnancy, it’s safest to limit your caffeine intake anyway, but it may be especially important if you’re experiencing bloating. Although coffee doesn’t always have a bloating effect, it can cause bloating in some people, so it may be best to avoid. Coffee also encourages us to add dairy products like creamers and milk, which may also contribute to bloating in some people.
Limit Salty Snacks
Ask yourself if your early pregnancy cravings have been causing you to reach for salty snacks more often. If so, it might be the biggest cause of your bloating.
Excess sodium can cause your body to retain fluids, making you look puffy or feel bloated. You might think you’re consuming a normal amount of salt but about 90% of Americans consume too much sodium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Consider that salt is contained in everything from the usual suspects like saltine crackers to sodas and even “healthy” branded snacks. The best way to avoid overconsuming salt is to eat real, whole foods. Instead of reaching for a pre-packed snack, eat an apple instead. And instead of ordering takeout, make a homecooked meal.
Be Mindful of Diet Changes
Bloating and swelling can also be triggered by diet changes. Ask yourself how your diet has changed since you found out you were pregnant. For example, let’s say you typically avoid dairy products but they’re a big craving in your first trimester. If you have a dairy intolerance, it could be causing you to feel bloated now that you’re consuming it.
You might also be eating healthier for your baby, making sure to eat plenty of fiber. While fiber is great for digestion, too much at once can cause constipation, contributing to bloating. Instead, aim to increase your fiber intake slowly so your system can adjust.
Drink From a Glass, Not a Straw
Drinking through a straw may cause you to swallow more gas than necessary. If this is your habit, try drinking directly from the glass or water bottle instead and see if that helps.
Consider taking probiotics to help your digestion and decrease bloating. Probiotics may help add good bacteria back into the gut, helping to reduce bloating. Keep in mind that probiotics don’t work overnight. If you see changes, it will most likely happen after a week or two of taking them.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
Those pregnancy cravings might lure you into a late-night snacking session, but consider how it might affect your bloating the next day. Eating before you go to bed doesn’t give your body enough time to process the food. Instead of waking up refreshed, you may wake up feeling lethargic, puffy, and bloated.
Summary: Bloating In Early Pregnancy
Bloating is one of the first signs of pregnancy you may experience. Although common and normal, it can be annoying, causing you to feel uncomfortable and lethargic. There’s no surefire way to stop bloating, especially during pregnancy when your hormones may be a leading cause. However, there’s some changes you can make to limit and manage your bloating.
First, pay attention to your diet and if your food choices have changed. Next, consider foods to limit, like those high in salt. Then consider your eating habits. For example, eating smaller meals more frequently and slowly increasing your fiber intake can go a long way.
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