Heartburn with pregnancy unfortunately goes hand in hand. Although uncomfortable, the good news is that heartburn and acid reflux are common conditions experienced during pregnancy.
Heartburn is a serious problem and a common condition that affects millions of people on a daily basis. Of course, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It’s name is associated with the area of the body from which discomfort most commonly occurs.
Heartburn is a digestive malady in which stomach acid irritates the esophagus causing you to feel a burning sensation which starts in the stomach and into the chest.
To further complicate matters heartburn can escalate into a condition known as acid reflux. That’s when stomach acid is regurgitated into the throat and mouth resulting in burning in the throat and a sour and bitter taste in the mouth.
During your pregnancy, placenta produces a hormone called progesterone which causes the smooth muscles of the uterus to relax. In turn, progesterone also relaxes the valve that leads from the esophagus into the stomach causing gastric acids to slip back up into the esophagus resulting in acid reflux and heartburn.
Progesterone also slows down your normal digestive processes furthering your discomfort. Its just one more hormonal change that your body must endure due to pregnancy.
As your pregnancy progresses, your growing baby crowds your abdominal cavity, pushing the stomach acids back up into the esophagus. In other words you’ve got several contributory factors going on that are only present when pregnant. Therefore, heartburn with pregnancy is the norm and not the exception to the rule.
Mast women don’t experience heartburn and reflux problems until the second half of their pregnancy. This discomfort is not normally constant but comes and goes until your baby is born.
Dealing with heartburn with pregnancy is much the same as for heartburn and reflux outside pregnancy. Obviously, you should be extra careful with what you put into your body to cope with the problem. As with all medications you should check with your doctor.
One of the most helpful and simple ways of keeping your heartburn under control is to drink plenty of water. Water serves to dilute gastric acid and flush it from your system.
You will also find it beneficial to avoid large meals. 6 small meals are preferable to 3 large meals. It is also important to avoid spicy or acidic food. Caffeinated and carbonated beverages are also problematic. The consumption of alcohol is also a no-no, not only for heartburn, but also for the well-being of your baby.
Additionally, be careful to avoid fried and fatty foods. These foods are naturally hard to digest and your pregnancy will make digestion even more difficult.
Stress stimulates the production of stomach acid. Of course, stress is a natural part of pregnancy but avoid external stressors as much as possible.
Heartburn and reflux often occur after you have gone to bed. To avoid this problem consume your last meal at least 2 to 3 hours prior to bedtime. If the problem persists elevate your head with extra pillows. The basic idea is to make gravity work for you by keeping stomach acid in the stomach.
Heartburn with pregnancy is normal but it can be controlled. Just remember to share your heartburn related concerns with your doctor.