Hot flashes, Head Aches and Heartburn
How to combat the symptoms of heartburn safely during pregnancy
As if the ankle swelling, back pain and nausea aren’t enough to deal with during pregnancy, many women report symptoms of severe heartburn during their second and third trimesters. Heartburn is different from acid reflux. It is a type of acid indigestion that creates a burning sensation in the esophagus that’s caused by digestive juices that backwash upwards towards the throat.
It’s believed that heartburn incidence increases during pregnancy due to changing hormone levels within the female body. As a result, this hormonal change can affect the muscles of the digestive tract and alter how different foods are tolerated. Pregnancy hormones can cause relax the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus, or the LES (lower esophageal sphincter), allowing stomach acids to reflux into the esophagus. Pregnancy-related heartburn may also be caused by the enlarged uterus crowding the abdomen, pushing stomach acids upwards into the esophagus.
Here are some tips for reducing heartburn safely during pregnancy:
- While pregnant, try to avoid spicy or rich foods. Such foods that are high in fat or spiciness cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, which increases the risk of heartburn. Avoiding these foods may be wise if you tend to notice symptoms of heartburn shortly after consumption.
- When pregnant, try to avoid drinking copious amounts while eating. Drinking large amounts of liquid while eating may increase risk of acid reflux or exacerbate any current symptoms.
- When pregnant, consume smaller meals throughout the day. Instead of eating three large meals over the course of a day try to eat smaller, more frequent servings to avoid a potential heartburn attack. Large meals are hard for any stomach to digest and cause the LES to relax, which increases risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
- When pregnant, try to eat meals slowly. In addition to eating smaller meals, giving your stomach ample time to digest the foods you consume while eating will lower your risk of heartburn.
- When pregnant, do not lie down directly after a meal. Reclining positions make it easier for stomach acids to travel back up the esophagus and into the throat and mouth.
- When pregnant, avoid wearing tight clothing. Clothes that cling too tightly to the abdomen or increase pressure on the lower abdomen can prompt heartburn by helping to push stomach acids up the esophagus.
- When pregnant, try to keep your upper body at an incline when lying down. This will help prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest as you sleep.
These are just a few tips to help you avoid heartburn during pregnancy. If your heartburn persists after giving birth, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying issue. It may be wise to contact Dr. John Bagnato for proper diagnosis.