Pre-natal heartburn or acid reflux can be confusing to understand and find relief for during pregnancy. Read on to learn more about heartburn and how to reduce its symptoms.
Heartburn describes a burning sensation in the chest, sometimes moving up to the back of the throat. This sensation may be accompanied with a sour or bitter taste in the back of the mouth. Other symptoms of heartburn may include feeling bloated, feeling ill, vomiting food, and feeling bloated. Although the name heartburn includes the word “heart”, it is not related to the heart itself. The burning sensation in the chest associated with heartburn is cause by acid reflux.
Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acid moves up from the stomach and into the esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries everything you swallow to your stomach. To prevent stomach acid from traveling from your stomach to your esophagus, there is a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter separating the esophagus from the stomach. The muscle open to allow substances into the stomach, and closes to prevent acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter does not close properly.
What causes heartburn during pregnancy?
Generally, lower back pain is connected to normal growth of the baby during healthy gestation. This causes a variety of changes to the body that lead to lower back pain.
Because of the way your hormone levels change during pregnancy, they can impact the way that your body digests food. Hormones produced during pregnancy can often slow down your digestive system, causing food to move slower through your body. This phenomenon leads to bloating.
Lower Esophageal Sphincter loosening
One of the main hormones produced during pregnancy, progesterone, can have the effect of relaxing your lower esophageal sphincter. When the LES relaxes, it allows stomach acid to move up the esophagus, bringing on symptoms of heartburn.
Expansion of the Uterus
As the uterus grows to account for you baby’s growth, it can get crowded in the abdomen, causing the uterus to push on other organs. One of these organs is the stomach, which gets pushed upwards, towards the esophagus. This makes it more likely to get acid reflux and heartburn during pregnancy.
Due to the fact that one of the main causes of acid reflux is a large uterus, the condition is more common during the third trimester of pregnancy, or if more than one baby is expected.
Heartburn and acid reflux can be frustrating conditions to deal with on top of everything else during pregnancy, but there are some ways to reduce the discomfort
Naturally, given that heartburn is caused by the change your expanding uterus is causing to your stomach, being mindful of what and how you consume will help mitigate the symptoms of acid reflux.
- Eat SlowlyEating slowly can help prevent acid reflux as you are giving your stomach more time to process the food you are consuming. Taking small, spaced out bites and chewing thoroughly can drastically reduce the amount of heartburn you experience.
- More meals, and smaller onesEating more than the usual three meals in small portions throughout the day also reduces the amount of work your stomach has to do, further reducing the symptoms of your heartburn.
- Letting the food digest properly
- While eating, it is helpful to sit up straight so you esophagus is vertical, and your stomach has less pressure on it, making it more difficult for stomach acid to reach your esophagus.
- Avoid lying down for one to two hours after your eat a meal. This will make it easier for you body to digest the food, lessening the chances of acid reflux.
- Foods to avoidAvoiding high-acid foods can prove to mitigate heartburn
- Spicy, fatty, fried food
- Citrus fruits and juices
For more guidance on pre-natal and post-partum health, contact one of our experts