Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as heartburn is a chronic condition that affects the digestive system. It is a fiery churning emanating behind your breastbone and ten searing up the oesophagus creating pain and discomfort. In Australia, heartburn affects about 12% of the population.
While most pregnant women expect burgeoning breasts, swollen ankles and the morning sickness, heartburn catches them unawares. If you are pregnant, it is useful to get as much information as you can about heartburn.
This guide explores the causes of heartburn during pregnancy, symptoms and different techniques to deal with the condition.
Causes of Heartburn during Pregnancy
Heartburn is one of the earliest symptoms in the first months of pregnancy. During this stage, your body produces progesterone (“pregnancy hormone”) and relaxing, in large quantities. These two hormones relax the smooth muscle tissues as part of aiding the body cope with the pregnancy. These muscles include the ones in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
It is beneficial to your baby as it slows digestion, thus leading to more absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. However, the relaxed stomach muscles can also allow harsh digestive juices back into the oesophagus.
The sensitive lining of the oesophagus becomes irritated by the acidic juices leading to the burning sensation around the heart region. This sensation is now known as heartburn as it happens near the heart.
Symptoms include belching, nausea and vomiting, difficulty swallowing and abdominal pain. They are more pronounced problems than with ordinary acid reflux.
Simple But Effective Ways to Manage Heartburn in Pregnancy
The burning sensation is one more cause of discomfort during pregnancy, and many women struggle with it. However, you can now try different solutions to overcome heartburn pregnancy, including:
Avoiding Acidic/Spicy Foods and Drinks
The last thing you want during pregnancy is to add fuel to the fire by eating acidic or spicy foods. You should also avoid fizzy drinks as they create more stomach acid, which exacerbates an already bad situation. Other foods to avoid include onions, garlic, citrus, tomatoes, caffeine, carbonated beverages, chocolate, and other acidic foods.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight is a serious problem during pregnancy. It worsens normal symptoms, including heartburn to a point where you might need hospitalization. Talk to your nutritionist on the best meals to maintain a healthy weight and simple exercises to keep you fit.
Embrace Different Lifestyle Changes
Some lifestyle habits, such as smoking can lead to serious cases of heartburn. During pregnancy, you should stop smoking and also stay away from second-hand smoke.
The Chemicals in cigarette smoke lead to the relaxation of the stomach valve thus allowing harsh digestive juices back into the oesophagus. The same case applies to alcohol, and you should thus stop drinking during pregnancy.
Eat Smaller Meals during the Day
Like most people, you are accustomed to large meals on one seating and this can worsen your heartburn. Doctors recommend five or six smaller meals throughout the day to avoid backflow of acidic juices from the stomach.
Sit Up Straight When Eating and Eat Slowly
This is a simple but highly popular technique to deal with heartburn during pregnancy. Eating when sitting up straight boosts with digestion. You should also eat slowly to avoid problems with indigestion or heartburn.
Avoid Drinks during Meals
It feels amazing or even healthy when you take drinks during meals but this can lead to heartburn. Instead of taking drinks during meals, use the time between meals for fluid intake. It reduces the fluid available to transport acidic digestive juices back into the oesophagus.
Avoid Laying Down or Sitting After a Meal
It is advisable to take a leisurely walk after a meal if you are pregnant. This is a simple tactic to avoid acidic juices from flowing back into the oesophagus. Any activities that will put pressure on the stomach will lead to searing pain as harsh digestive juices flow back from the stomach.
Avoid Eating Right before Bed
That hearty meal just before bed is the perfect recipe for excruciating pain caused by heartburn. Try not to eat for at least three hours before going to bed.
Use Pillows for Elevation When Sleeping
It is advisable to elevate your head 6-9 inches when sleeping by placing pillows under your shoulders. This averts backflow of acidic juices into the oesophagus.
Besides, don’t forget these essentials for your new arrival.
Feeling the burn during pregnancy? Heartburn is one of the most common and uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms. Luckily, you can alleviate the discomfort by using the above techniques to manage the digestive problem. Watching what and how you eat, changing some lifestyle habits and daily routines can help significantly with heartburn during pregnancy.