Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life, but some ailments can add misery to what is otherwise a joyful experience. Heartburn is one of those things for pregnant women. It can strike often, sometimes throughout the pregnancy. Here are some ideas to help you alleviate the symptoms or, better yet, avoid it all together.
What Is Heartburn?
According to the Mayo Clinic, heartburn is the pain or burning sensation that occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to allow food into your stomach and then closes again. However, if it relaxes or weakens, it stays open longer, allowing the stomach acid back up into your esophagus.
In pregnant women, the body releases the hormone progesterone to relax the uterine muscles in preparation for childbirth. However, this hormone also relaxes other joints and muscles in the body, including those in the esophagus. This is why heartburn is common in pregnant women.
Also, as your baby grows, your organs get crowded in your abdomen, and the elimination of waste slows down, so stomach acid can be pushed up out of the stomach.
How to Help Heartburn Symptoms
Here are some things to try to ease symptoms of heartburn.
- After checking with your health-care provider, try an over-the-counter antacid. Many of these contain calcium, so you’ll get a mineral boost as well as heartburn relief.
- Try eating yogurt or drinking milk when you have symptoms. Adding honey to your milk can also reduce your heartburn.
- Chew gum after meals since this may help to neutralize stomach acid and help your symptoms.
How to Prevent Heartburn
Following these tips from the American College of Gastroenterology can stop you from getting heartburn in the first place.
- Different foods trigger heartburn in different women. Note what you’ve eaten and whether or not you have heartburn later. That way, you’ll know which foods to avoid in future. Common triggers include greasy or spicy foods, chocolate, tomato sauce, peppermint, caffeine, carbonated drinks and citrus fruits.
- Wear loose fitting clothes to avoid extra pressure on your abdomen.
- Eat smaller meals and eat more often.
- Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.
- Drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day, but not just at mealtimes. Drinking a lot with meals can distend the stomach, which adds pressure and increases the risk of heartburn.
- Don’t eat right before going to bed. Wait at least three hours before lying down.
- Raise the head of the bed or sleep on an extra pillow.
By following these tips, you can not only manage heartburn when you get it but also possibly prevent it. That can help you get back to enjoying every moment of your pregnancy.