During pregnancy, you may feel uneasy at times. Vomiting, nausea, heartburn, backache, and extreme exhaustion are typical and should not be a cause for concern. You can alleviate most discomforts by doing a variety of things. If you think you have a symptom, consult your healthcare professional before using any medicine, supplement, or herbal product. Some of these may be harmful to your child.
The swelling of ankles, morning sickness, and developing breasts are all commonly expected by pregnant women. But ever thought of heartburn of too?
What is heartburn?
Heartburn (also known as gastroesophageal reflux or acid indigestion) is a burning sensation that begins under your breastbone and goes up your esophagus, the tube that connects your throat to your stomach. These acids can travel up to your throat. A very unpleasant, burning sensation in the mouth or chest is known as heartburn. When food or stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, this happens. The esophagus is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach and transports food, fluids, and saliva. Because pregnancy hormones loosen the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, heartburn is prevalent throughout pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones relax the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, and your developing uterus (womb) puts pressure on your stomach, causing heartburn. Heartburn, despite its name, has nothing to do with the heart. (However, some of the symptoms resemble those of a heart attack or cardiac disease.) It is an oesophageal irritation caused by stomach acid, and it is a frequent pregnancy symptom, especially in the third trimester when the uterus puts pressure on the stomach.
The lower oesophageal sphincter, or LES, is a muscle valve that keeps stomach acid in the stomach with the help of gravity. The LES is found below the rib cage, somewhat to the left of the center, where the esophagus enters the stomach. It normally opens to allow food to enter the stomach, then closes again. Stomach acid can reflux, or seep, back into the esophagus if the LES opens too often or does not seal tightly enough, causing a burning feeling.
Heartburn is not dangerous on occasion, but frequent heartburn might signal significant issues like gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. For 10% of Americans, and 50% of pregnant women, heartburn is a daily occurrence. For another 30% of the population, it is a once-in-a-while annoyance. If you did not experience heartburn before becoming pregnant, it will go once your child is delivered.
Symptoms of heartburn
In addition to a burning sensation that might last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, you may also experience:
- After eating, a burning sensation in the chest immediately beneath the breastbone (sternum) that lasts a few minutes to many hours.
- Pain in the chest, particularly after bending down, lying down, or eating
- Throat burning, or a hot, sour, or salty-tasting fluid in the back of the throat
- Coughing for a long time
- Asthma-like symptoms or wheezing
What is the Cause of the problem?
Heartburn affects up to 45 percent of expectant mothers, according to one research. You’re more likely to get heartburn during pregnancy if you had it before. Heartburn can strike at any time during pregnancy, although it is more common in the second trimester and the third trimester. Experts are not sure what is causing the smoldering, but they believe it is a three-part issue.
Your Hormones: It supports your womb and the baby inside it, progesterone is known as the “pregnancy hormone.” It is the major cause of pregnancy-related heartburn. Progesterone has a muscle-relaxing effect. In the case of heartburn, the hormone might release the tight muscle that separates your stomach from your esophagus (known as the lower oesophageal valve). When you eat or drink, the muscle opens to allow the contents of the stomach into the stomach before closing tightly. However, high levels of progesterone during pregnancy can cause that muscle to relax, causing stomach acid to back up into your esophagus and even into your throat.
Your growing baby: Your uterus competes for the room with some of your other organs as it expands to accommodate your growing baby. Your developing uterus puts pressure on your stomach, similar to a toothpaste tube being squeezed, making it more probable that stomach acids will flow out, especially if your stomach is full. The more your uterus grows, the more likely your stomach will get squeezed. This could explain why heartburn becomes more likely as your pregnancy progresses.
Digestion is slowed: Stomach contents last longer than usual thanks to progesterone. Heartburn is more likely as digestion slows and the stomach remains fuller for longer.
Steps to prevent heartburn
If you want to prevent heartburn during pregnancy without taking medication, consider the following:
- Instead of three substantial meals every day, eat several small ones.
- Foods that are fatty, fried, spicy, or rich should be avoided.
- Chocolate, coffee, caffeine, and mint should all be avoided.
- While eating, drink less fluid. Drinking a lot of liquids while eating might cause acid reflux and heartburn.
- After eating, do not lie down soon away.
- Maintain a greater height difference between the head and foot of your bed.
- Dress in loose-fitting clothes. Tight-fitting clothing puts extra strain on your stomach and abdomen.
- Sleep on your left side if possible. Because your stomach is on the left, acids have a tougher time getting into your esophagus.
Steps to relieve heartburn
Heartburn is unpleasant, but there are ways to combat it:
- Keep an eye on what you eat
Acidic and spicy foods, unsurprisingly, produce more stomach acid than bland foods. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, garlic, caffeine, chocolate, soft drinks, and other acidic foods should be avoided. Avoid fried or fatty foods, which slow down digestion.
- Instead of three large meals per day, eat several little meals throughout the day
This prevents the stomach from becoming overworked and allows it to empty more quickly.
- When you eat, sit up straight
Your mother was correct about this, as well as many other things. Gravity will assist you in keeping your meal in place.
- Do not eat for at least three hours before bedtime
Giving your digestion a head start before you lie down for the night, slows the emptying of your stomach, and will help you keep your heartburn under control.
- Quit smoking
Heartburn is only one of the many reasons why you should avoid smoking during pregnancy. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that relax the valve that keeps the contents in the stomach down. Acids and undigested meals can splash upward and take their scorching aim as a result.
- Sleep with your head up 6 to 9 inches
Placing pillows under your shoulders, lifting the head of your bed with blocks placed beneath the bed’s legs, or purchasing a specific wedge pillow to place between the mattress and box spring are the easiest ways to achieve this. Another technique to make gravity work for you is to sleep raised up.
- Dress in comfortable, loose-fitting attire
Avoid wearing Spanx or any other garment that puts strain on your midsection.
- Drink your liquids after, not during meals
If you drink liquids with your meal, you may be producing an overfull, sloshy stomach condition that encourages heartburn.
- Experiment with acupuncture
In a 2015 study, pregnant women who received acupuncture compared to those who did not, show any difference in their symptoms, but the women who received acupuncture reported better sleep and eating.
- Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages
Aside from the fact that alcohol can harm your developing kid in a variety of ways- ranging from low birth weight to learning difficulties, it can also loosen the valve that keeps stomach contents in the stomach.
When to call your doctor
If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your provider right away:
- Have heartburn that returns after your antacid wears off.
- Have heartburn that keeps you awake at night.
- Have difficulty swallowing.
- Are spitting up blood.
- Have black stools (poop).
- Are losing weight
Consult your physician about heartburn treatments. This includes OTC medications, some of which are safe to take during pregnancy.
Antacids work by neutralizing stomach acid and relieving the burning sensation. OTC antacids containing calcium carbonate (such as Tums), according to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, are safe to use.
If lifestyle changes have not relieved your heartburn, your doctor may prescribe heartburn medications like Tagamet or Prilosec, which are typically considered safe during pregnancy.
While some drugs are available over the counter, your doctor may write you a prescription for a higher dose if he or she believes it is necessary.
While heartburn is common and unpleasant during pregnancy, it should go away once you give birth, and your hormone levels return to normal. You may not be able to prevent heartburn, especially if you are prone to it even when you are not pregnant, but you can help put out the fires by eating short meals, avoiding spicy or fatty foods, and resting with your head and shoulders raised.
If these steps are not enough, talk to your doctor about drugs that are safe to take while pregnant.
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