Does the uncontrollable release of “stinky” gas during your postpartum period make you wonder what was going on with your digestive tract during your recent pregnancy? You’re not alone. A nursing mother forum where new mamas shared their postpartum experience was filled with a mixture of embarrassing and funny moments.
Even though the postpartum period comes with other symptoms like: vaginal bleeding, night sweat, postpartum depression, and mood swing, postpartum gas seems the most overlooked because it sometimes feels normal. Yes, everybody farts.
But how do you know when it’s abnormal? What causes this? Are there remedies for this? Is it temporary? When should you visit your doctor? You’ll find answers to these questions below.
What Is Postpartum Gas?
Postpartum gas is the buildup of gas and subsequent discomfort that occurs after giving birth, usually during the postpartum period.
During pregnancy, there is pressure on the abdominal organs, changes in the position of the intestines, and hormonal changes. All these changes contribute to gas being trapped in the digestive system, thus causing gas pain and increased flatulence release.
Now imagine how bad the gas that was trapped for long will smell. At this point it has fermented and will smell extremely bad. That’s what most new moms experience. Generally, this experience is temporary and sometimes takes longer due to underlying medical conditions.
Some of the symptoms of postpartum gas include; farting, belching, and abdominal cramping.
Is Postpartum Gas Normal?
As long as it is normal to get pregnant and it is normal for your body to experience changes that come with pregnancy, postpartum gas itself is normal. Whether you had vaginal or cesarean delivery doesn’t change this either. Some other contributing factors may include;
- Decreased physical activities during pregnancy can slow down digestion and contribute to gas buildup
- Dietary changes, including consuming foods that are new or different from what was eaten during pregnancy
- Some medications that are commonly prescribed postpartum, such as painkillers or anesthesia, can also cause postpartum gas
Causes Of Postpartum Gas
Even if postpartum gas results from uncontrollable factors during delivery, it could also result from underlying disease or some preventable factors. See some possible causes below.
Pelvic Floor Damage
The pelvis plays a crucial role in controlling bowel movements. It is the back of the pelvic floor that controls the anus. During delivery, there are chances that the muscles get stretched, strained, or even torn, thus becoming weak or damaged. When this happens, there is difficulty in controlling gas.
After childbirth, your body tries to go back to normal. There is hormonal change and bowel movement is more active. As a result, you might have to deal with constipation, which eventually results in postpartum farts.
Meanwhile, other factors, like iron supplements and pain medication, may lead to constipation. Also, when there’s a strain during delivery, the pelvic floor muscles become temporarily weak, making it harder to pass stool.
The kind of foods you eat during your postpartum period may be the cause of your flatulence. Foods rich in fructose, sorbitol, and lactose are foods to cut down on when you experience postpartum gas. This category includes dairy products and processed foods like gums, beans, and vegetables. Although you may add these foods to balance your diet, you just need to reduce them.
If you underwent a cesarean section, you might experience gas pain due to the surgery. The air introduced into the abdominal cavity during the procedure can lead to bloating and gas pain. The pain is felt in various abdomen areas and sometimes extends to the shoulders. Fortunately, this gas pain is temporary and will improve as your body gradually absorbs and expels the trapped gas.
When To See The Doctor
While postpartum gas is generally considered normal, there are certain situations in which you should consider seeking medical attention.
- Severe pain: If you’re experiencing persistent abdominal pain that is not relieved by common remedies, it’s important to consult your doctor
- Persistent symptoms: You should see your doctor if your symptoms are persistent and not improving with time
- Difficulty passing gas: If you can’t pass gas or have a bowel movement despite trying, it could indicate a gastrointestinal issue that needs to be addressed
- Severe bloating: If you have severe abdominal bloating that is causing significant discomfort, it’s a good idea to see your doctor
- Difficulty breathing: Experiencing difficulty breathing along with gas pain could also be a cause for concern
The remedies for postpartum gas depend on the cause. Some natural remedies to try include the following:
- You can address constipation through proper hydration, dietary fiber, and appropriate medical guidance to alleviate the symptoms of postpartum gas
- You can address pelvic floor issues through exercises like Kegels and seeking guidance from a healthcare provider
- Avoid gas-producing foods like beans, cabbage, broccoli, and carbonated drinks
If you are unable to figure out the cause, see your doctor.