- Women can treat and relieve their heartburn symptoms through lifestyle and dietary changes.
- Studies have shown that it is the elevated level of the progesterone hormone which causes the valve that controls the opening and closing of the oesophagus to relax.
While some of us experience heartburn daily, especially when sleeping, women with children are most likely to suffer worse heartburns that may prolong even after delivery.
While they are the most commonly reported complaints among pregnant women, especially in their first trimester they tend to worsen during the second and third trimesters.
This is because the baby and uterus are biggest then, crowding your other organs.
Causes of the heart burns
Studies have shown that it is the elevated level of the progesterone hormone which causes the valve that controls the opening and closing of the oesophagus to relax.
Meaning the stomach acids start to go up your throat, causing an irritation which results in heartburn.
That, accompanied by the increased intra-abdominal pressures that are caused by the enlarging uterus, which may lower oesophagal sphincter pressure in pregnant women contributes to heartburn symptoms.
A newly updated “Pregnancy in Gastrointestinal Disorders” monograph by the American College of Gastroenterology suggests a couple of things that may help women experiencing heartburn during pregnancy.
They believe pregnant women can treat and relieve their heartburn symptoms through lifestyle and dietary changes.
The following tips can help reduce heartburn discomfort:
Option 1: Avoid late-night eating
Avoid eating late at night or before retiring to bed.
Common heartburn triggers include greasy or spicy food, chocolate, peppermint, tomato sauces, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and citrus fruits.
Option 2: Wear loose clothes
As you want to slay all day with your baby bump, experts advise women that are struggling with heartburn should try wearing loose-fitting clothes.
This is because clothes that fit tightly around the waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower oesophagal sphincter.
Option 3: Eat many small meals
The experts recommended pregnant women eat smaller meals.
Overfilling the stomach can result in acid reflux and heartburn. Food does not digest well or move as quickly during pregnancy, you would rather eat many small meals, than a huge meal that may bring up heartburn issues.
Option 4: Sleep smart
According to parents, it is important that pregnant women do not eat anything for at least 2 to 3 hours before bed.
It does not end there, pregnant women are advised to sleep in an elevated position as sleeping horizontally makes it easy for the acids from the stomach to travel up the oesophagus, causing heartburn.
Many physicians advise pregnant women to sleep on their left side.
Option 5: Eliminate trigger foods
Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Abstinence from alcohol and smoking can help reduce reflux symptoms and avoid fetal exposure to potentially harmful substances.
Foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, carbonated beverages, and alcohol are the common culprits' pregnant women should avoid, but that is after a thorough consultation with their doctor.
Option 6: Eat slowly
Pregnant women are advised to sit upright when eating and after eating, to prevent high acidity in the stomach.
They should chew the food until it liquefies because liquid foods are less likely to cause problems than solids since they move through the stomach more quickly.
Option 7: Heartburn medications
You should consult your doctor before taking any medication to relieve heartburn symptoms because there are certain medications that are considered safe for use in pregnancy and those which should be avoided.
“Using heartburn medications to treat acid reflux during pregnancy should be balanced to alleviate the mother’s symptoms of heartburn while protecting the developing fetus,” ACG President Amy Foxx says.
Antacids are one of the most common over-the-counter medications to treat heartburn.
However, they should be used cautiously during pregnancy, and after consultation.