It is quite common for pregnant women to experience heartburn, anytime during the nine months of pregnancy. This happens because of the hormonal changes and enlargement of the uterus. There are different ways in which one can reduce the intensity of heartburn. Let us have a look at them.
Several pregnant women complain of a burning sensation at the back of their throat, extending all the way to the bottom of the breastbone, especially during the second and third semesters. Heartburn as we all know is not related to the heart, but is an acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux. This irritation is caused when the stomach acids flow back into the esophagus. Though generally harmless and a common condition during pregnancy, heartburn can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. All one wants to do is find a way to get rid of the burning sensation in the throat. Let us find out what causes this problem.
Heartburn During Pregnancy
The two main causes for heartburn occurrence during pregnancy are as follows:
During pregnancy, the level of hormones in the body increases. The body produces more progesterone for the uterus to relax, however, it so happens that progesterone also causes the ligaments that normally keep the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) tightly closed, to soften and relax. Softening at unusual times can cause stomach acids to go back into the esophagus and throat and give rise to acid reflux, causing symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, indigestion, etc.
More Pressure on Stomach
As the fetus grows in the womb, more pressure is exerted on the stomach, which in turn forces the acids to pass into the esophagus, via the LES. This explains why women commonly experience heartburn in their second and third trimesters.
How to Reduce Heartburn?
Although there is no particular treatment to get rid of heartburn, there are some acid reflux remedies during pregnancy available, which will help reduce the amount of discomfort associated with it.
Eat Smaller Portions
Instead of eating three large meals in a day, it is advised to break the meals into six small meals. This way your stomach is receiving food every three hours of the day, thereby eliminating hunger pangs. It also reduces the pressure exerted on your stomach and prevents acid reflux. Stomach acids are not left without food to work on and will not conduce to discomfort. Moreover, the small portions ensure you are not taking in more calories than required. While eating, eat slowly and chew your food well.
Avoid Spicy and Fatty Foods
Various foods can trigger heartburn and the best contenders in this category are spicy and fatty foods. Besides these even peppermint, caffeine, citrus fruits, tomato sauce and even chocolate can conduce to heartburn. For each woman the trigger food may be different, thus, one should find out what leads to heartburn by strict perusal of one’s diet.
Avoid Tight Fitting Clothes
Wearing tight fitting clothes that pinch the abdomen should be avoided, because this puts pressure on the stomach and results in acid reflux. Instead wear loose clothes that exert no extra pressure. Moreover, when you lie down at night, prop your head over a few pillows, to keep your head at an elevated position. This will also help reduce heartburn.
Drink Less Water During Meals
It is important to drink enough water, however, do not drink too much water during meal times. This is to reduce the distension caused after meals, thereby reducing chances of acid reflux.
Avoid Lying Down After Meals
It’s so tempting to lie down on the couch after a meal, however, this increases the chances of a heartburn. Wait for an hour after a meal before you go to bed at night. Try taking a walk or sitting after a meal, but do not lie down or go to sleep immediately after a meal.
After avoiding all these things if you are still struck by heartburn, try drinking cold milk to get some relief. Chewing gum is another option, as the saliva formed will neutralized the acid in the stomach. Visit a doctor if the heartburn is severe. The doctor will prescribe some antacid medication, that can be safely consumed. Heartburn during pregnancy is common and is no reason to panic!