Acid indigestion or heartburn is a very common problem for pregnant women. However, this condition can be managed with some simple measures. Find out why this problem is so common during pregnancy, and how to manage it, in this HerHaleness article.
Heartburn or acid indigestion is one the most common discomforts experienced by expectant mothers. A great majority of women encounter this problem for the first time in their life during pregnancy, while for others the symptoms of the condition worsen during this period. This problem is mainly caused by a change in the structure or shape of the body, as well as the hormonal fluctuations that characterize this period.
The irritation or the burning sensation that can be felt in the chest and the back of the throat due to acid indigestion is basically caused by the regurgitation of the stomach content. Usually, the lower esophageal sphincter (a valve-like opening) helps keep the stomach content from flowing back to the esophagus. When this sphincter fails to function properly or if it weakens, the stomach acid and food can flow back to the esophagus. This condition is also known as acid reflux disease or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The relationship between heartburn and pregnancy can be explained by the hormonal changes that take place during this period. Pregnancy is characterized by the rising levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone. The hormone progesterone causes the muscles of the digestive tract, including the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. As a result, food and acid from the stomach can easily move back towards the esophagus, and cause heartburn.
The symptoms of this condition can worsen during the second and the third trimesters. This is because, the growing uterus puts more pressure on the stomach, and pushes the stomach acid towards the esophagus. The consumption of spicy or fatty food, eating a large meal, and the habit of lying down immediately after eating are some other possible factors that can worsen the symptoms of heartburn.
The most common symptom of this condition is the burning sensation that can be felt in the chest, just behind the breastbone. Along with the chest, the irritation or the burning sensation can be felt in the stomach and the back of the throat as well. Apart from these, a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty in swallowing, belching, vomiting, a sore throat, and cough are some other symptoms that one can experience due to heartburn.
Heartburn during pregnancy can be managed to a great extent with the help of some dietary and lifestyle modifications. Pregnant women should avoid eating large meals, and the habit of lying down immediately after eating a meal, in order to manage this condition. It is better to have small and frequent meals instead of three large meals, if you are suffering from this condition. At the same time, it is equally important to limit the consumption of greasy or fatty food, spicy food, garlic, tomato and tomato products, vinegar, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.
On the other hand, certain food and beverages like chamomile tea, ginger tea, milk of raw coconut, honey, and peppermint can provide some relief in heartburn. These are some of the natural remedies for this condition. Pregnant women can also talk to their physician to know more about an ideal diet that can help control the symptoms of this condition. Along with dietary changes, sleeping in a slightly elevated position can prove very helpful in preventing the regurgitation of stomach content. In addition to these, expectant mothers should avoid smoking, as this can further aggravate the problem.
Medications like antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors can be required for the treatment of acid indigestion at times. However, not all medications are safe to be used during pregnancy. So, pregnant women should always consult their physicians before taking any kind of medications. If lifestyle and dietary modifications fail to alleviate the symptoms, they should consider to get the condition properly evaluated by their health care provider. This would help address the underlying causes, and get relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of this condition.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.