There are many wonders and joys of pregnancy. However, you will notice several signs, symptoms, and experiences that can cause additional discomfort. Along with the discomforting feeling of nausea and morning sickness, it is also common to feel a constant sense of uneasiness and indigestion. This hasn’t been caused by eating a spicy meal or even overeating on most occasions. This is typically a sign of heartburn.
Heartburn during pregnancy is more common during the second and third trimesters. It is not uncommon, however, to experience it in the early stages either. Over 40 percent of pregnant mothers have been found to experience heartburn or acid reflux during pregnancy. If you have a tendency to experience heartburn, pregnancy can make it a more pronounced occurrence.
This condition is also referred to as acid reflux, oesophageal reflux, or acid indigestion. You will typically feel a burning sensation, often accompanied by a strong churning that originates somewhere behind the breastbone. This will travel all the way up the food pipe, often being noticed even in the throat.
Heartburn is often experienced soon after you have eaten. The feeling can last anywhere between a few minutes to a couple of hours. The burning and churning feelings are not the only signs of heartburn. Other signs you may notice include:
- A sore throat
- Frequent cough
- Increased belching
- Feeling of heaviness
- Bloated sensation
- Sour aftertaste in the mouth
The good news is that you needn’t blame spicy food anymore, especially considering that pregnancy is a greater trigger for acid reflux than your spicy peppers, pickles, and portions.
Causes of Heartburn During Pregnancy
There are a few major reasons that contribute to heartburn during pregnancy. These are likely to be reasons why you feel the signs you do:
Hormones: Your body is firing up a whole set of hormones to prepare you and your baby. Progesterone is among them. It is important for preparing the womb, caring for the baby, and relaxing the body. While relaxing the muscles, it also opens up the oesophageal valve. This opening may allow acids from the stomach to flow back into the food pipe and throat, causing the burning and other sensations you feel.
The baby: Your baby is growing rapidly, and the body is preparing to make more room. While the growth and compression of organs are much higher in the later stages of pregnancy, there is still some movement and pressing of organs. This may be a major contributor to acid reflux during pregnancy.
Digestion: Digestion is much slower during pregnancy. This is caused again due to progesterone. The hormone makes the food stay in the stomach for longer. As it remains in the stomach, the feeling of heaviness, fullness, and bloating are more pronounced. This can contribute to the feeling of indigestion during pregnancy.
Beating the Burn
Although it is a very unsettling and discomforting feeling, you can fight back in many ways. The great bit is that beating heartburn does not require medicines or complex methods. Simple adjustments can do the trick. Here are some tips that can offer pregnancy heartburn relief:
- Stay away from very spicy or acidic foods. Foods that you should avoid at this time include sodas and fizzy drinks, chocolate, caffeine, tomatoes, garlic, and citric fruit.
- Oily and fatty food take longer to digest. Since your digestive system is already slowed, it is best to avoid them.
- Have more frequent meals. If you can squeeze in more meals through the day and reduce the portion sizes, it will help combat the heaviness and bloating to a significant extent.
- Sit up straight while eating. Gravity will help direct the food into the stomach faster and keep it there. The chances of the acids rising are lower when you sit straight. Do this while and soon after eating.
- Eat earlier. Ensure you have a gap of at least three hours between your last meal and bedtime. This is among the best home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy. Lying down slows the digestion process. By giving your body enough time to begin digesting your food, you allow yourself to sleep better, and without the feeling of pregnancy indigestion at night.
- Avoid liquids with your meals. Liquids tend to create a mushier digestive experience as they mix with your foods. They add to the feeling of fullness and bloating, and slow down the process of digestion significantly. Liquids make the stomach a heartburn-prone zone.
- Wear loose clothing. For starters, this makes you feel much more comfortable mentally. Loose clothing, especially around the mid-section, allows more room and space for digestion. It also prevents cramping the stomach and constricting it. This will help prevent the feeling of fullness and heaviness around the area.
What Not to Do
While we have shared some great remedies for heartburn during pregnancy, it is important to remember what you can avoid:
- It is best to avoid medicating yourself during pregnancy. Remember that anything you put into your body goes straight to your baby. If you can try and work around the heartburn using more natural remedies, stick to them.
- Avoid antacids. Many of them can be dangerous to your baby, increase swelling, or cause other complications. Always get your doctor’s approval before consuming any medicines.
The Final Words
We all look forward to welcoming our baby, but the journey is never without bumps. Added complications like heartburn don’t help at this stage. However, you can take heart knowing that this is a condition that is common to many mothers. Also, know that there are simple lifestyle changes that can help you with heartburn during pregnancy. Most importantly, know that you will begin to feel better almost as soon as the baby is born.
So, enjoy the process, keep your eyes on the prize, and make some simple changes in the months to follow!
- Cleveland Clinic medical professional.(January, 2021). Heartburn.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12011-heartburn-during-pregnancy.clevelandclinic.
- Neha Pathak.(August, 2020). Heartburn.https://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/heartburn-during-pregnancy.webmd.
- Donna Christiano.(August, 2019). Heartburn.https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/heartburn-during-pregnancy.healthline.