Postpartum gas occurs when a woman experiences increased flatulence after giving birth to a baby. Postpartum gas is common and usually goes away on its own but can also be a sign of a pelvic injury or underlying health condition.
Is it normal?
A woman’s body goes through many changes during and after pregnancy. After giving birth, it is normal for a person to notice changes to their bowel movements. Such changes may include:
- Feeling bloated
- Postpartum gas
- Involuntary or loose bowel movements
These changes may occur whether the person had a vaginal or cesarean delivery.
The symptoms of postpartum gas include:
- sharp abdominal pain and cramping
- flatulence, or farting
Depending on the cause, these digestive changes may resolve on its own or may require treatment.
Postpartum gas may be caused by a primary health condition or factors that may be part of the birth process. Possible causes of postpartum gas include:
Damage to the pelvic floor
The pelvic floor muscles may stretch and cause injury to nerves and muscles due to pregnancy and the birthing process. The back of the pelvic floor controls the anus. It is possible for the anal sphincter muscles to tear during birth.
Anal injuries can lead to reduced control over gas. These injuries can also reduce a person’s control over their bowel movements.
Symptoms of anal incontinence may include:
- urgent need to pass out stool
- losing control over passing gas or farting
- losing control over passing stool
- experiencing anal leakage
Constipation may occur during birth where a person has painful trapped gas after giving birth. Constipation may cause irregular bowel movements, and their stools may be hard and lumpy. Constipation can also cause bloating and abdominal pain. Constipation is common after giving birth and can sometimes be an unending problem. Certain pain medications may cause a person to have immediate constipation, after delivery.
Episiotomy is a minor surgical procedure where the doctor cuts between the vaginal opening and the anus to prevent tearing while they are giving birth.
Sometimes an episiotomy can take some time to heal. It may also weaken the pelvic floor muscles and lead to symptoms of anal incontinence, including postpartum gas.
Diet and lifestyle
Gas may increase in a woman after delivery if she consumes foods that contain lactose, fructose, sorbitol, or soluble fiber may increase gas. Examples of these are:
- diary product
- processed foods
- chewing gum and candy
- whole grains
When a person wants to cut down on excess gas, it is a good idea to avoid processed foods, chewing gum, and candy. If a woman experiences postpartum gas, she can try eating less of each food type in turn. This can help identify what foods causes the gas.
Some underlying health conditions that may increase gas include:
- Crohn’s disease. This is a form of inflammatory bowel disease.
- This is a disease that affects the lining of the bowel.
- Ulcerative colitis. This is a type of inflammatory bowel disease.
Treatment and home remedies
A doctor will normally repair any injury to the pelvic floor after delivery. While a woman is still in the hospital, a doctor will normally repair any injury to the pelvic floor. If the wound fails to heal properly, the individual may require additional treatment.
Pelvic floor exercises or Kegels can help with recovery from anal incontinence. Kegel exercises involve repeatedly tensing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles a person uses to stop passing gas or urine.
Over-the-counter stool softeners or laxatives may provide relief from constipation in the short term. Dietary changes can similarly help to prevent constipation and gas from reoccurring.
Drinking lots of water and performing yoga poses can help improve digestion.