Heartburn during pregnancy: causes and treatment
Heartburn is very unpleasant, but so common among pregnant women that it can be called one of the most annoying companion of pregnancy.
There is a myth that the cause of heartburn are your baby’s nails and hair, growing inside you. However, this is not true. Physicians believe that heartburn during pregnancy is physiological in nature and is quite understandable.
Causes of heartburn during pregnancy.
Heartburn (or acid indigestion) is a burning sensation and pain behind the breastbone and in the epigastric region. Most often, this occurs due to the emission of gastric juice into the esophagus, resulting in the irritation of sensitive mucous membrane, which provokes an unpleasant feeling of heat. The release of acid is provoked by compression of the internal organs. For this reason, many people with excess weight also suffer from acid indigestion.
During pregnancy, the growing fetus press on the organs. This is why heartburn usually starts in the second trimester, while in the early stages women do not have this unpleasant feeling.
Of course, the esophagus is protected from gastric acid with a kind of a valve — a sphincter, but under the influence of the pregnancy hormone progesterone this valve is relaxed and allows stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus.
High levels of progesterone during pregnancy also affects the time needed by the body for proper digestion. Muscle contractions that help food pass through the esophagus slow down as a side effect of hormonal secretion. As the result, digestive process takes more time, also leading to indigestion and heartburn. Typically, heartburn begins soon after eating (especially after eating fatty, fried and spicy foods) and can last from several minutes to several hours. It is very individual.
Many pregnant women noted that they suffer from heartburn, even if they do not eat or drink. Heartburn usually starts in the supine position.
How to get rid of heartburn during pregnancy?
Medications: nonabsorbable antacids
Painful heartburn during pregnancy can be eliminated by using special nonabsorbable antacids. They neutralize and absorb hydrochloric acid from the stomach, smooth its walls and relieve heartburn without penetrating into blood. Many nonabsorbable antacids also contain calcium, aluminum and magnesium. However, together with hydrochloric acid, nonabsorbable antacids absorb many other substances, that’s why you can’t combine them with other medications. Many antacids can trigger constipation. In addition to the calcium carbonate, many nonabsorbable antacids contain magnesium carbonate, and magnesium has a laxative effect, which increases the resistance of the mucosa to the damaging action of hydrochloric acid. However, due to the fact that magnesium can affect fetal development, world gynecologists still recommended to refuse taking it. As in any other case, treatment of heartburn should be carried out only on your doctor’s prescription.
Treatment of heartburn without pills: herbal remedies
Of course, many of you don’t want to take any pills at all while pregnant. Also, many people fight against heartburn with the help of baking soda. However, this is highly undesirable during pregnancy. First, when interacting with gastric juice, soda forms even more carbonic acid, that’s why after a short relief heartburn becomes even worse. Soda can cause a dangerous disturbance of acid balance, which can result in increases swelling in the second half of pregnancy.
Still there are some nice ways haw you can treat heartburn without pills. Here are some recipes to combat heartburn with herbal remedies:
- Boil 15 g heather in 0,5 liters of water for 2−3 minutes. Drink half a cup 3−4 times a day.
- Brew 10 g of centaury in 200 ml of boiling water for 2−3 hours. Take 1 tablespoon 3−4 times a day half an hour before meals.
- You can stop severe heartburn by taking 1/3 teaspoon of calamus root powder 3−4 times a day.
Before taking herbal remedies, you still need to consult your doctor.
It is important to understand that heartburn can’t harm the fetus. If you can do without medication, of course, it is better to do. You can also eat the following products to reduce the pain (maybe some of them will work for you):
- sunflower seeds,
- almond nuts,
- cucumbers or carrots,
- mineral water,
- chewing gum.
How to prevent and eliminate heartburn during pregnancy?
- Try not to take the antispasmodic drugs, as they relax the sphincter of esophagus and therefore contribute to heartburn. Some herbs, such as mint, have the same effect.
- The extra weight gained during pregnancy also increases the risk of heartburn. Therefore, do not overeat. Eat small portions 5−6 times a day at intervals of 1.5−2 hours. Eat slowly, chew carefully.
- Include milk, cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, steam omelettes, boiled lean meat and fish, butter, vegetable oil, white bread into your diet. This product provoke an alkaline reaction and hep combat heartburn.
- Eat only boiled or mashed vegetables and baked. Include beets and steamed prunes into your diet to avoid constipation.
- Eat less fried food, spicy sauces, drink less fruit juice. Avoid eating cabbage, radish, radish, onion, garlic, mushrooms, black bread, chocolate, black tea and coffee, mustard, vinegar, tomatoes, oranges.
- Alcohol and smoking increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn, you need to completely give up smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Eat 3−4 hours before you go to sleep. Do not lie down after having a meal. Avoid positions and exercises that contribute to heartburn. Try sit, stand and walk more. Sleep you’re your pillow raised.
- Drink enough water — but only between meals and not during meals. If nothing helps, consult your doctor. Perhaps you have no other choice but to wait until the baby is born. However, heartburn can be a symptom of some diseases of the digestive organs or of the liver; therefore, it’s also a nice idea to have a consultation with a gastroenterologist.