April 12, 2018

Heartburn During Pregnancy

There are a lot of discomforts associated with pregnancy. However, most pregnant women would agree that heartburn or acid reflux is the worst and most upsetting of all.

Although cases of acid reflux among pregnant women vary to some extent, and one case may be worse than the other, it is important to understand why this happens. Acid reflux or heartburn is associated with the changes in the body and hormones during pregnancy.

Here are some of the reasons why pregnant women are more susceptible to acid reflux.

1. Hormonal changes

Pregnancy causes significant changes in the hormones. The dramatic increase in hormonal levels causes a great deal of impact to a woman’s bodily functions particularly with the digestive system. Heartburn or acid reflux is caused by the loosening up of the LES or lower esophageal sphincter. The LES functions as a valve that prevents the acid from flowing up into the esophagus.

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If it becomes loose due to the alterations in the hormonal levels brought about by pregnancy, the acid has a tendency to flow upwards going into the esophagus which then manifests as discomfort known as heartburn. The level of discomfort may be much more severe for some women compared to others. However, in general, pregnant women experience heartburn to some extent.

2. Heartburn is also associated with physical changes in a woman’s body particularly in the third trimester.

As the baby within the womb develops, so does the shape of the mother’s body wherein there is apparent increase in the size of her belly. This is a normal occurrence in pregnancy. However, along with these physical changes comes the discomfort brought about by acid reflux.

As the mother’s belly enlarges, more pressure is put on the esophagus which causes indigestion and then leads to heartburn. This should be well understood in order for the expectant mother not to worry too much thinking that it is something serious. This usually occurs in the later part of pregnancy as the baby in the womb reaches full term.

What can be done to prevent and ease the discomfort?

In order to prevent serious attacks of acid reflux, it is important for the pregnant woman to watch what she eats. Avoid too much citrus fruits, spicy foods and mint, fatty and oily foods as well as fried dishes. Chocolates should likewise be avoided or taken in very little amounts.

It also helps to have smaller servings so as to avoid putting too much pressure and work on the esophagus and stomach. Smaller amounts of food can improve the efficiency of your digestion thereby preventing heartburn. It is therefore advisable for pregnant women to take frequent yet small meals within the day.

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Proper posture can also help relieve and prevent heartburn. Be very careful when bending. Flexing the knees in the process can put less pressure on the stomach and can help prevent indigestion. Keeping a good posture at all times is also beneficial to prevent severe bouts of acid reflux particularly during the late stage of pregnancy.

When the acid reflux becomes too much to handle, it is best to seek professional help from a doctor.

However, these important pointers can be beneficial in preventing the incidence or keeping the discomfort to a minimum during pregnancy.