Pregnancy and heartburn
There is a high chance that many pregnant women can experience the churning and burning of heartburn or acid indigestion. Usually, it happens during the second or third trimester. Heartburning causes discomfort that commences behind the breastbone. It then shifts upward to the neck and throat. Formally, heartburn is also known as gastroesophageal reflux, is when acidic stomach juices or food fluids back up into the esophagus. This is an empty muscular tube between the mouth and stomach.
What are the reasons for heartburn during pregnancy?
Heartburn is very common during pregnancy; pregnant women face heartburn during their second and third trimesters. They can also experience heartburn throughout their pregnancy period. There is a higher chance of having heartburn if you were facing it earlier, that means before the pregnancy.
Following are the reasons for heartburn during pregnancy:
- Hormones- At the beginning of pregnancy, the body produces more significant proportions of progesterone hormones. It nurtures the womb and also the baby inside it, which is the prime convict behind pregnancy-related heartburn. Progesterone works as a muscle relaxer. In case heartburn occurs, the hormone can loosen the tight muscle that closes the stomach off from the oesophagus. Whenever you intake any food or fluid, the muscle usually opens up to let the contents into the stomach before shutting tightly. But during pregnancy, the surging progesterone level appears to make the muscle slack, allowing stomach acid to backflow up towards the oesophagus and into the throat.
2. Growing baby– As the baby starts growing, the uterus also expands; it somehow competes with the other organs to make some space. The stomach gets squeezed as soon as the uterus. So, this is the reason for heartburn.
3. Slowed digestion- Usually, the food you intake sticks in the stomach for a longer time than usual. As the digestion slows down and the stomach feels full for a bit prolonged, the chance of heartburn increases.
How can heartburn during pregnancy be cured?
There are various ways to manage and cure heartburn during pregnancy. Some of them are defined below:
- Chewing some sugarless gum- chewing sugarless gums after your meals for about half an hour can increase saliva production that can neutralize excess acid in the esophagus.
- Eat almonds- Having few almonds after the meal helps to neutralize the juices inside the stomach that help relieve and even prevent heartburn.
- Having milk- Drinking a small glass of almond milk after every meal helps you get some calcium from that. You can even drink it while you feel heartburn.
- Eating papaya: Fresh dried and freeze-dried papaya helps to prevent heartburn. For some women, it also scores vitamin A and C.
PREVENTIVE MEASURES OF HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY:
Most pregnant women face the problem of heartburn. There are very minimal chances that a woman will have heartburn-free pregnancy. Although heartburn does not cause any harm to the mother or the baby inside the mother’s womb.
Following are the preventive measures that can be taken during heartburn pregnancy:
- Evade trigger foodstuffs- Some foodstuffs agitate your tummy. If any food intake causes a burn inside your belly, you should cut off those foodstuffs from your menu. Some foods that cause heartburn during pregnancy are spicy food, fried or fat-containing food, processed meats, chocolates, caffeine, carbonated beverages, and mint, citrus, and other acidic food.
- Avoid drinking and eating simultaneously- when excessive fluid and food combine, it dilates the stomach causing heartburn.
- Do not intake foods at least two hours before bedtime- Avoid taking big meals at least two hours before bedtime. It is recommended so that your stomach gets some time for digestion of food before you lie down. If it’s vital to have some food, you may intake some snacks, but they should be very light and easy to digest.
- Avoid digestive surcharge- Avoid having three big meals. Instead, try to have smaller meals and snacks during pregnancy as it helps you from heartburn to bloating to lagging energy.
- Intake food steadily- It is required to take some time to chew your food correctly. The work of the stomach gets easy if you chew your food more. Whenever you gobble your food, you sometimes endure air, building gas pockets inside the abdomen. It is recommended to intake smaller bites of food even when you are hungry or in a hurry. Always remember to chew your food correctly.
- Keep your head up – Always sit upright while eating, and remain that way for a couple of hours afterwards. Lying down, slouching, slumping, and stooping all carry gastric juices back up. Do not bend over your waist; instead, bend with your knees.
- Look out for your weight- Although you will gain weight during your pregnancy, try to keep your weight gain gradual and moderate. Gaining more weight can make heartburn worse by increasing pressure on your digestive tract.
- Avoid smoking- Doctors advise not to smoke during pregnancy because it causes heartburn. Cigarettes contain chemicals that may be harmful to the baby.
- Avoid stress- You should keep your mind stress-free as it helps to ease the burn. It would be best to practice prenatal yoga, meditation, visualization, acupuncture, biofeedback, or hypnosis.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes- Tight-fitting clothes create pressure in the midsection of the body. Wear comfortable clothes during your pregnancy.
- Avoid alcohol- It is advised not to consume alcohol during your pregnancy as it may be harmful.
Natural heartburn remedies during pregnancy
After having your meal, you can feel an uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest. Sometimes it happens due to the intake of some spicy food. Some expectant moms prefer to have antacids or other medications, while others are very keen to find some natural remedies to get rid of heartburn during pregnancy. Heartburn happens during pregnancy because the digestive system slows down, which leads you to suffer different issues related to the stomach like digestion, constipation, etc.
Some popular natural heartburn remedies are as follows:
1. Ginger- it is well known for reducing nausea. Ginger may have a soothing effect on the digestive tract. It is effective in curing nausea and vomiting, which is related to heartburn. You can add raw ginger to your diet. You can even boil it in water to make tea or try ready-made ginger tea in the market.
2. Apple cider vinegar- People think that vinegar is very acidic, but that is not true. Apple cider vinegar is very neutral, and it calms the acid down. You can dilute one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one cup of water, and you can have it once a day to relieve heartburn.
3. Pineapple and papaya- During pregnancy, digestion slows down if you have heartburn. So foods with digestive enzymes, such as pineapple and papaya, can help eliminate this problem.
4. Herbal tea- Peppermint, slippery elm, and marshmallow root are known for their comforting characteristics, and it is considered safe during pregnancy. But you should make sure that if you want to intake anything, you should consult with your practitioners. Sipping these teas after dinner helps to relieve heartburn.
5. Exercise- After your meal, you can go for a 10-minute walk as it helps indigestion. When the food moves through the digestive tract, it will create minimum pressure on the stomach, so there is very little chance to spit back acid back up to the esophagus.
Medication for heartburn
Women are advised to take medication during pregnancy if the symptoms are severe. It is necessary to consult the doctor and have the prescribed medicines. During pregnancy, you should make some changes in your lifestyle. You should avoid having spicy foods and intake smaller and more frequent meals.
Antara Chowdhury is a Content Marketer and Strategist with 6 years of experience. She is Master degree holder in Journalism and wants to explore everything she can write on.