” I feel and look so bloated”, is a common phrase made by women in early pregnancy. Clothes feeling tight across the middle, abdominal distension feeling worse in the evenings.  Some women feel that they visibly appear to have a ‘bump’ in early pregnancy, but this is often due to bloating. This is one of the less pleasant symptoms that may occur in early pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones, progesterone and oestrogen that can also be responsible for slowing digestion and constipation can add to the feeling of abdominal bloating/distension. Slowing of digestion also enables for nutrients to be absorbed, which is beneficial to the baby. Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum within the ovary (left behind after the egg is released) in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and later the placenta. Some women feel swollen in their abdomen. This can sometimes last the whole pregnancy.

The hormone progesterone, relaxes the smooth muscle of the intestine, as well as other muscles, to allow the uterus to expand. Gas can be allowed to build up, therefore the bloating. Your tummy may also make gurgling and popping noises/sensations and some occasional cramps. If you develop abdominal pains that are not eased by going to the toilet, passing wind or resting, although it is not uncommon to have some mild discomfort, you should seek medical advice from your GP or midwife.

Bloating and feeling full can increase as the pregnancy grows and more pressure is put on the intestines.

You may need to change your eating habits and eat little and often rather than trying to eat three large meals a day.  Not eating too late at night may also be beneficial. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and being active after you have eaten may help ease the bloating.  Also avoiding fizzy drinks, fatty or spicy foods may help. Eating fruit and vegetables will aid digestion as they contain fibre as well as vitamins and minerals, therefore aid digestion and reduce/ease constipation.

See www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/have-a-healthy-diet/ for further information regarding a healthy diet in pregnancy.

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