Pregnancy is essentially 40 fun-filled weeks of worry, excitement, awe, reflection, and the myriad indignities that make you long for a time when laughing didn't make you pee yourself and "walking farts" wasn't a concept you understood on a bone-deep level. Alas, just as you're ready to find a filtered pair of knickers to avoid embarrassment, you notice a gurgle beneath your esophagus. You've always burped after drinking soda, but now? They keep coming. A lot. In fact, you've never belched so much in your life. You're probably wondering, why do I burp so much during pregnancy?
If you guessed "hormones," you'd be right. Just like most everything during pregnancy, hormones are to blame. In this case, it's progesterone, according to the Mayo Clinic, which causes a slowing of the digestive tract. This slowed digestion causes an excess of gas to build up in the stomach, which in turn causes you to belch like a trucker traveling alone chugging Mountain Dew from a 2-liter bottle like it's his job.
Unfortunately, your digestion only gets slower and your symptoms more pronounced as the weeks of your pregnancy wear on. The bigger your belly gets, the more pressure on your stomach and intestine and the easier it is for gas to find pockets to hide in — ready to surprise you from one end or another.
Not surprisingly, some women experience this phenomenon in the extreme. Women who have problems with reflux (GERD), whether or not it began with their pregnancy, tend to belch more than other pregnant women. It's a sometimes painful side effect of their GERD. The type of belch experienced during periods of uncomfortable reflux is actually different from your average everyday burp. These burps are called supragastric belches, according to The American Journal of Gastroenterology. The article noted that the "supragastric belch is a behavioral peculiarity. During this type of belch, pharyngeal air is sucked or injected into the esophagus, after which it is immediately expulsed before it has reached the stomach."
Having experienced these with some severity during my second pregnancy, it feels like the cross between a hiccup and a belch, and they can happen in rapid succession after eating or lying down for any period of time. They burn like crazy. Have you ever accidentally snorted soda up your nose from laughing? Imagine that awful sensation in the back of your throat, over and over again. Again, this is just one of those indignities some of us must withstand so that we can have the squidgy perfectness of our babies.
Speaking of the babies that are born to women who belch. Chances are, if you ask your grandmother or great auntie why you're burping so much during pregnancy, the answer won't be that progesterone is slowing down your digestion. They will likely tell you it means you're going to have a hairy baby. Now, from personal, and completely anecdotal experience, my daughter was quite the infant furball. But, then again, so was my son. They were both born with adorable heads of old man hair (receding hairline, but so much hair about the sides and back), and furry shoulders and ears.
And it turns out, there's truth to this myth. A study done at Johns Hopkins found that the "simple linear relationship between heartburn severity and hair volume was significant."
It turns out that the hormone, estrogen, which can cause heartburn and belching late in pregnancy, is also responsible for hair growth in the womb, and that women who experience more heartburn have hairier littles. Way to go, Grandma. You were right. You may not have pegged the hormone bit, but who cares? Now I wonder what else they're right about. Perhaps I should steer clear of any cracks in the sidewalk just to be sure.
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