Your body goes through various strange, weird and wonderful changes during pregnancy. Giving life is a huge task – your body is amazing!
These changes, however, don’t just stop once your little baby bump is born.
Along with trying to get into the rhythm of your new routine, nursing and being superwoman, you may find yourself uncomfortably tooting all the time too!
Here are some causes of postpartum gas, what you can do about it at home and when to call your doctor.
What is making you so gassy after pregnancy?
Gas after pregnancy is not uncommon and it’s really not fun. The hormone progesterone is one of the main causes of excess gas during pregnancy. As your body produces more progesterone to support your pregnancy, it causes the muscles in your body to relax.
This includes the muscles of your intestine, too. Intestine muscles that move slower lead to your digestion slowing down. This causes gas to build up, which in turn leads to bloating, burping, and postpartum flatulence.
The process of labour has slowed the movement of food through the intestines, which may cause you to feel bloated or constipated.
Can you still experience gas after delivery?
You may have found that during your pregnancy you had the occasional gassy bout. Things have probably changed since baby’s birth but you may find that you still get terrible gas no matter what you eat.
This can cause pain, discomfort, frustration and even embarrassment in some situations.
“Postpartum flatulence can be painful and annoying, but there are plenty of things you can do at home to try and bring yourself some gassy relief.”
Is gas after pregnancy normal?
To answer your question simply, yes! Having gas after pregnancy is normal and you can rest assured that you are not alone in this one. Many moms have reported being gassier than normal post-delivery.
This gas issue can also last anywhere from one week to months post-pregnancy. Every woman is different and adjusts differently to having have given birth.
Most women that have given birth, whether naturally or by caesarean section, are likely going to experience abdominal gas and bloating after having a baby.
Bloating after pregnancy
Getting further along in your pregnancy, the increased pressure from your growing uterus on your abdominal cavity can slow down digestion, leading to gas.
Pregnancy is a long process which doesn’t end the minute your baby is born. Postpartum gas is a real thing, meaning you may not be waving that preggo-gas goodbye just yet.
What causes bloating and gas after pregnancy?
Some foods can contribute to gas and your prenatal vitamins (the iron component, especially) can cause constipation, leading to – yip – more gas.
- Constipation: Your bowel movements may be slow for the first few days (and possibly much longer) after delivery, whether you’ve had a vaginal or caesarean delivery. Constipation is when you don’t have bowel movements often or your stools are hard to pass. You also may have painful gas, which can occur for a while after you give birth.
- Eating habits: If it’s been too many months and you’re feeling like it may never end, it’s also possible that your lingering postpartum gas has more to do with your diet than anything else.
- Pelvic floor damage: Pregnancy and giving birth may stretch and injure the muscles and nerves in your pelvic floor, reducing the control you have over passing gas. These injuries can also reduce your control over bowel movements, known medically as anal incontinence.
- Episiotomy: You may have needed to undergo this small surgical procedure while you were giving birth. The doctor cuts between the vaginal opening and the anus to prevent tearing. Sometimes an episiotomy may also weaken the pelvic floor muscles, leading to symptoms of anal incontinence, including postpartum gas.
Dealing with gas pain after C-section
Postpartum flatulence over and above the healing process of a caesarean delivery can be extremely unpleasant.
The gas you have after a C-section can feel like you may never be able to breathe or walk again when it gets very bad. It can start from your belly and move up your entire torso to your shoulders like you’re the balloon at a kids’ party. It can be the worst feeling ever!
This usually happens when your bowels become sluggish after surgery, resulting in gas pain pressing on the diaphragm; this pain can extend to the shoulders. Your nurse will probably offer you anti-gas meds and encourage you to walk around as soon as possible.
Your doctor may have prescribed iron supplements if you’ve had a caesarean delivery. The iron can also contribute to constipation.
Pooping can be a real problem post-C-section, purely because it’s tough to push when your abdomen is tender and sore. Taking stool softeners after delivery can help to ease you back into your routine again.
Gas pain after C-section remedies
It can take anywhere from a week to a month to start feeling like there may be light at the end of this tunnel, but most of the gas should be relieved and hopefully go away, if you try the following remedies:
- Put iron supplements on hold: Waiting to start any iron supplements until you’ve had one or more bowel movements after birth.
- Walk it out: Walking around (at your own pace, around the hospital or house) can help to relieve gas pain after a C-section. If you’re feeling up to it, try holding onto something or someone so you can ease into a squat here and there as well.
- Try a different form of painkiller: Some painkillers cause constipation, trying one that won’t have that effect could really help this situation.
- The cat yoga pose: The cat pose will lift your stomach up in a way that shouldn’t irritate your new wound and it will help stretch out the gas bubbles.
- Lift your knees: Slowly start lifting your knees to your chest as close as it can go. Do not push yourself if you are in pain. This action will break up the built-up gas you are experiencing.
- Massage your tummy: You will find a lot of relief in softly pushing down on your stomach while rubbing in a clockwise motion.
Postpartum gas pain
For new and experienced moms alike, your bowels have gone through a lot during childbirth. The muscles may be sluggish, which can cause constipation and a gassy, bloated feeling.
If your bowels have taken some strain or your pelvic floor is letting you down, you might find that excess wind is a problem.
Leaking poop (postpartum anal incontinence) can also be an issue for the same reasons. If you’re suffering from this, it should sort itself out as you regain strength down below in your pelvic area, which will take some time.
Pain in left side
Left side pain can be scary, and while you may be on high alert and feeling as though your pain is something bigger, it is not uncommon to feel pain in your left side after delivery.
Just as you are adjusting to your new family member, your body is now adjusting to not carrying them for you anymore.
Your ligaments, as well as everything else, are settling back into place. Wearing a postpartum support belt can be a fantastic way to help keep everything strapped up and feeling more supported.
You should, however, know when to call your doctor. Not everyone is the same and if something doesn’t feel right then getting peace of mind can do you and your health a world of good.
When is postpartum gas not normal?
If you have had a baby recently, it is always better to let your doctor know if you have any severe abdominal pain. Rare cases may confuse the pain caused by a uterine infection with what you think is gas pain.
Signs of a UTI can include:
- Bleeding that continues to get heavier.
- Vaginal discharge that has a funny smell or colour.
- A fever higher than 38°C
- Severe lower stomach pain
- Feeling unwell in your stomach/throwing up.
If you have signs of anal incontinence, it would be a good idea to get checked out and have any post-delivery repairs examined.
How to get rid of gas after delivery
Postpartum flatulence can be painful and annoying, but there are plenty of things you can do at home to try and bring yourself some gassy relief:
1. Fluids, fluids, fluids: Make sure you drink plenty of water. Drinking at least 8-10 glasses per day will help soften up your intestines and get things moving on out.
2. Drink warm liquids: Herbal teas such as Rooibos or warm water two to three times per day can help alleviate postpartum gas.
3. Rest up: Take advantage of how often your baby will sleep over the next few weeks, and don’t feel bad about nodding off every chance you get.
4. Fibre: Eating plenty of fibre such as bran, fruit, green vegetables and whole grains will encourage your digestive system to get back into a routine.
5. Prunes: We’ve all heard of the good old home remedy, and prunes have a natural and mild laxative effect.
6. Try keeping a food log: If you suspect your postpartum flatulence is a possible dietary issue, then a food diary is a very good way of keeping track of how certain foods have left you feeling post eating them.
7. Stool softeners: If these other lifestyle tips do not help, talk to your doctor about stool softeners.
How to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles at home
Pelvic floor muscle exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, are one of the best ways to improve and maintain bowel functions.
Like any exercise, it can be difficult at first to know if you are exercising your Kegels properly. Don’t worry though, practise makes perfect.
- Where are the muscles? Next time you’re sitting on the toilet, try to stop your urination flow mid-stream. Congratulations! You have successfully identified your pelvic floor muscles and probably the most difficult part of this exercise.
- Build up slowly. Perform this exercise with an empty bladder. Your first goal should be to tighten your pelvic floor muscles for about six seconds. Relax them for the same number of seconds. Try build up to 10 reps per day.
- Repeat three times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions per day.
The journey from pregnancy back to your non-pregnant (superwoman) self is not always an easy one. It can be physically and emotionally draining.
We hope that this article has taken some of the edge off your worries, knowing that you are not alone in this gassy situation.
Be proactive in maximising your comfort and rest, and try some (if not all) of these home remedies to relieve your postnatal flatulence.
If your pain is worrying you or your family members, don’t hesitate to call your doctor and book a check-up. We know that your and your baby’s health are a top priority right now, so getting some peace of mind may ease any unnecessary stress.