Well, if lunch was raw broccoli or cooked beans and the bloating goes away in a few hours, never mind. And if you tend to feel bloated a few days each month before your period, that's hormones. But if the bloating is constant, doesn't get better when you have a bowel movement, and tends to worsen over time, see your doctor; it can be an early sign of ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or even ovarian cancer, says Dr. Sweet. If your doctor takes a thorough history and does a pelvic exam and possibly a vaginal ultrasound exam, he can pinpoint what's causing the problem and treat it.
Most little aches and pains mean nothing. But when something is bothering you, you owe it to yourself -- and your family -- to make sure.
Health writer Laura Flynn McCarthy's last feature for Parenting was "Feeding Your Baby," in the February issue.