Heartburn During Pregnancy: Every Thing You Need to Know About It
If you are an expecting mother and you feel a burning sensation in your chest, you are most likely having a heartburn.
Do not be alarmed. This happens to many pregnant women.
Heartburn during pregnancy is the result of the numerous changes in the body when you are pregnant.
Answer the following questions…
- Do you often have a burning sensation in your chest and throat?
- Does your heartburn cause you to have insomnia, or sleep poorly at night?
- Have you tried remedies such as eating small meals and avoiding fizzy drinks? But it didn’t work.
- Are you looking for heartburn medication that are safe for the baby?
If you answered ‘yes’ to at least one of the question, here are some of the most important things you need to know about heartburn when you are pregnant, along with tips on how to relieve and avoid heartburn.
Heartburn During Early Pregnancy: Why It Happens
A lot of changes happen to the body when you are pregnant. Among these changes include the increase in the production of progesterone. The placenta is mainly responsible for the production of this hormone.
This same hormone is responsible for heartburn throughout pregnancy. Progesterone tends to relax the valve between your stomach and your esophagus. This valve prevents stomach acids from going up to the esophagus. If this valve is relaxed, it would be easier for stomach acids to make their way up to your esophagus.
Another reason for the unpleasant burning sensation is your reduced ability to digest food. The most common reason why you suffer from heartburn is this: you are eating foods that trigger heartburn. Progesterone is partly to blame for acid reflux, but your food choices also play a huge role in it. Coupled with the relaxed valve, you might experience a worse reflux reaction.
Progesterone can cause acid reflux throughout pregnancy since it slows down the wavelike contractions of the esophagus. During the later stages, women are plagued with acid reflux because the baby takes up more room in the abdominal cavity. Since the stomach is crowded, acids get pushed back up.
Most women start to experience heartburn during the second half of their pregnancy, and this continues until after they give birth.
Heartburn During Pregnancy: Truth Or Myths
When women experience heartburn during early pregnancy, most people think it is caused by the baby’s growing hair. One research tried to find a connection between heartburn during pregnancy and hair growth. To the surprise of the researchers from John Hopkins University, there is some truth behind this old wives tale.
In the study involving 64 women, 78 percent reported that they were experiencing heartburn during the phase where their baby’s hair started to grow. After the women gave birth, independent observers rated the amount of hair that their infants had.
Out of the 28 women who experienced heartburn during their pregnancy, 23 gave birth to babies who had either average to above average hair. Meanwhile, out of the 12 women who did not report any heartburn symptoms, 10 had babies with little to no hair.
Kathleen Costigan, the lead researcher, admitted that she was also surprised with the results of the study. Although the reason for the heartburn is not directly linked to hair growth, the increase in estrogen levels, and the connection between heartburn and fetal hair exists.
Among the heartburn during pregnancy myths, fetal hair growth is the most popular. With the latest research on this subject, it seems that women who experience heartburn are more likely to have babies with average or above average hair growth.
Another myth concerning heartburn is the belief that when you experience reflux, you are having a boy. Unlike the hair myth, there is no truth in this belief. There are some women who experience heartburn, even if they have had a girl. There is entirely no correlation between the two.
What You Can Do About Heartburn While Pregnant
When you are suffering from heartburn during your pregnancy, do these:
1. Cut Caffeine Out of Your Diet
People who are suffering from GERD are often advised to stop taking coffee, or limit their caffeine intake. In a study by the University of Illinois, there were conflicting results between heartburn and coffee intake. In some people, consuming coffee does not have a significant effect on the manifestation of heartburn. However, there were also people who reported that their heartburn became worse when they consumed coffee.
The same issue exists in tea products, although there are some people who report that heartburn was worse when they consumed black tea. Given these circumstances, it would be better to limit caffeine intake as a whole during the entire duration of your pregnancy.
2. Avoid Anything Carbonated
Soda might seem to be the perfect beverage to quench your thirst; however, these carbonated drinks can do damage when you have acid reflux. In a study with over 15,000 participants, almost a quarter of the population reported that they experienced night time heartburn after consuming a carbonated drink.
Soda is a bad choice for your drink since it causes stomach distention, which can lead to acid regurgitation. At the same time, these drinks are acidic. This means your stomach’s exposure to acids increases each time you drink soda. On average, the acid level in your stomach is higher for about 53. 5 minutes after you drink soda.
3. Do Not Drink Alcohol
Alcohol is another trigger for heartburn. When you are pregnant, you need to stop drinking because it is not good for expecting mothers. No matter how fond you are of the bottle, you need to do your best to stop doing shots during this critical period.
Pregnancy and alcohol do not mix. Even if there is no clear-cut study that alcohol can harm the unborn child, health organizations advise pregnant women and those who want to conceive to abstain from alcohol.
A Danish study in 2012 found out that as long as the mother consumes less than eight alcoholic drinks a week, the child will remain safe, but many organizations still disagree since drinking increases the likelihood of a miscarriage. When the mother drinks, the child is prone to speech and learning problems, hyperactivity, and having a short attention span. Aggressive and delinquent behavior is also more common in children whose mothers did not abstain from alcohol.
4. Quit Smoking
If you are looking for the right time to quit, it should be when you discover that you are pregnant. When you are carrying a child, having a lot of nicotine on your system can harm you and your baby.
People who smoke often struggle with conceiving a child. If you are pregnant and you smoke, you are putting yourself and your baby at risk. The chances of stillbirth or a miscarriage increase when you are a smoker. The chemicals that are present in cigarettes are often to blame. Aside from that, development of the fetus can be slower than normal.
Another possible complication that could arise is placenta abruption. This is the case where the placenta which is considered as the baby’s main food source separates from the uterus. When this happens, the expecting mother can experience heavy bleeding. Immediate medical attention will be needed to save the life of the unborn child.
5. Eat Three to Four Hours Before Bedtime
There is an old wives tale that going to bed on a full stomach can lead to having fatal nightmares. As far as heartburn is concerned, there are studies indicating that people who eat three hours before going to bed are more likely to suffer from heartburn.
Controlling all other factors that could increase the likelihood of heartburn, researchers from the American Journal of Gastroenterology has insightful findings. Researchers found out that those who ate after the three-hour window are seven times more likely to have heartburn symptoms.
The magic number for those who want to avoid heartburn at night is three to four hours, because this is the amount of time it takes for food to leave the stomach; hence, it would be the perfect about of time to abstain from food before going to bed.
6. Consume Food in Smaller Portions
People who suffer from heartburn should learn to control their food portions. One of the most common triggers for this condition is eating a lot on one meal. The role of eating smaller food portions can help you deal with heartburn effectively.
So, what is the best way to control heartburn during pregnancy? Although you might feel hungry all the time during pregnancy, you need to pay attention to when and how much you eat. For one, it would be better to eat before you go out so you can control your hunger better.
Another important tip is to eat when you wake up in the morning. Skipping breakfast is never a great idea especially when you are expecting. It is also useful to eat on a certain schedule rather than eat when you feel pangs of hunger.
When eating, it would be better to focus not just on chewing your food, like putting your fork down between bites. Take your time and do something else, like engaging someone in conversation. This can help you slow down and take more time to chew your food.
Eating slowly is always a great idea when you are suffering from heartburn. Plus, this is great for your overall digestion, since you are helping the stomach break down food to smaller pieces.
7. Elevate Your Head
If you want more ideas on how to deal with reflux when you are expecting, buying more pillows is your best bet. When you are expecting, having a lot of pillows on hand is comfortable, since this can help you find the best sleeping position. If you are struggling with heartburn, this is an even better idea.
Try to elevate your head by at least six inches. This could help in keeping stomach acids where they belong – in your stomach. Even if the valve is relaxed, your elevated head can help you avoid heartburn.
8. Wear Loose Clothes
When you experience heartburn while pregnant, you should try to make your wardrobe choices a bit friendlier for your body. It would be better to avoid clothes that are too fitted since they can take their toll on your organs. Aside from that, the chances of suffering from reflux increase when there is too much pressure on your stomach.
Even if you have a baby bump, there are still a lot of chic and fashionable wardrobe choices for you. You can even set a new trend without opting for tight-fitted clothes.
Heartburn During Pregnancy Relief: Safe and Effective Treatment for Expecting Mothers
Heartburn is one of the most annoying conditions that accompany pregnancy. In general, this does not make your pregnancy more difficult and it will not put your baby at risk. Even so, it is an annoying, uncomfortable condition, and since it could disrupt your sleep, you may want to avoid it at all costs.
When you experience heartburn during pregnancy, treatment is still an option, although your choices are limited. Here are some things that you can try to avoid heartburn.
1. Make Lifestyle Changes
There are medicines that even pregnant women can try, but it would be better to avoid taking any unnecessary tablets while you are carrying a child. Try to observe the tips outlined above. By choosing what and how you eat, you could reduce your chances of getting heartburn.
While heartburn during early pregnancy is a major challenge, you can make that sensation go away with changes. The best thing about these anti-reflux pointers is the fact they can also make your pregnancy healthier.
2. Ask About Doctor-Approved Antacids
When you are pregnant, you should never take any kind of drug unless it has been approved by your healthcare provider. Antacids are the most common treatment for heartburn since they can neutralize the acids in your stomach.
It would be better to take chewable antacids that contain calcium if you want some relief from acid reflux. Taking TUMS during pregnancy is one of the most popular ways to relieve heartburn. Another choice for those who want relief from heartburn are antacids containing magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide.
When looking for a solution to heartburn, avoid products containing aluminum. It is also advisable not to take baking soda or anything that contains sodium bicarbonate, as this can increase water retention.
Depending on the type of antacid you need, you may require a prescription from your doctor. Needless to say, it is necessary to talk to your doctor about the best options for you. Do not try any antacid unless you have explicit approval to take the drug first.
3. Go for Natural Treatments
If heartburn is the issue at hand, science is not the only source of solutions. There are a lot of natural remedies for heartburn during first trimester pregnancy you can try. Here are some of the most popular go-to natural remedies that people swear by:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut Water
- Lemon Water
These natural remedies are good for you, especially drinking water. Proper hydration can keep those stomach acids at bay and it is totally safe while you are pregnant; however, avoid drinking too much water in one go.
While fruits are generally safe to consume, try to ask your doctor if apple cider vinegar is a good choice. No two pregnancies are the same. While some of these remedies work wonders for one woman, it could be the worst idea for another.
Pregnancy brings a lot of changes to a woman’s life. Hormones are literally sky-high when you are expecting a child, and this can affect how your entire body works. It is important to get the support from your partner or spouse, and you will find your journey a lot easier with the emotional support.
Heartburn during pregnancy is normal although it can be annoying and disruptive. If you are worried about this condition, ask your doctor about it to put your mind at ease. The data above should also give you a more concrete idea of why your stomach acids are misbehaving, and why you have nothing to worry about.