Heartburn during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a woman may experience plenty of discomforts. This is due to her body doing a lot of work to accommodate the growing fetus. There are also hormonal fluctuations which can also contribute to pregnancy discomforts as well. In this article we will discuss one of the most common discomforts which is heartburn.
Heartburn is a common discomfort that many pregnant women experience. It is usually associated as a discomfort that is a result of eating spicy foods. However, during pregnancy, there are other causes of heartburn. One thing that causes heartburn, is the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that is produced by the placenta. This hormone not only relaxes the smooth wall of the uterus, but the flap between the stomach and esophagus. This can cause stomach acid to flow back up the esophagus which in turn results in heartburn.
Another cause of heartburn is the growth of the uterus. As the baby grows, the uterus also enlarges to accommodate the developing baby. As a result, the baby and uterus shifts the stomach upwards. This can further exacerbate the heartburn issue in women that are already experiencing this discomfort. If a woman is pregnant with multiples she may experience heartburn that is worse than a woman who is pregnant with one. Also, women who have a baby in the breech position, can experience more heartburn. This is due to the baby’s head pressing under the diaphragm.
Certain foods and beverages are another cause of heartburn in pregnancy. These certain foods and beverages may be handled well while pregnant. However due to the enlarged uterus and relaxed esophagus, they may cause heartburn when they didn’t before. Foods that are very greasy, fried, and spicy can cause heartburn. Very heavy and fatty foods can also cause heartburn. This is because these type of foods are harder to digest, and cause the stomach to empty slower. These type of foods can also cause the esophageal flap to not fully close. Like mentioned earlier, this can cause stomach acid to flow back upwards which causes heartburn. Chocolate and citrus based foods can also cause irritation and heartburn. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and soda can cause heartburn in a woman during pregnancy.
Excess weight or gaining too much weight during pregnancy can make heartburn worse as well. This is because extra weight puts more pressure on the digestive tract which can lead to heart burn. Eating healthy yet filling foods, and remaining active while pregnant can reduce the risk of excess weight gain during pregnancy. A medical care professional can assist a pregnant woman with managing weight and pregnancy safe activities.
So how can a pregnant woman minimize the risk of having severe heartburn? Or, if she is experiencing heartburn how can she ease the discomfort? A pregnant woman should eat small frequent meals instead of large infrequent meals. She should also take time to chew her food. Drinking a small amount of liquids before and after meals is a good idea as well. This helps for the food to be digested better, and not cause too much pressure to the digestive tract. Propping up on a pillow to keep the head elevated during sleep helps to keep stomach acid from rising. A pregnant woman should also consult her care provider if heartburn is persistent. The medical care provider may be able to recommend a pregnancy safe ant-acid and/or prescribe one for her.
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- Dan Canfield