Heartburn during pregnancy happens to be one of the common discomforts most pregnant women suffer from during pregnancy. This common discomfort may start as early as the first trimester and worsen as the pregnancy progresses. However, a pregnant woman can get relieve from heartburn by making dietary and simple lifestyle changes.
Causes of heartburn during pregnancy
Among the many causes of heartburn, two may explain why heartburn during pregnancy occurs.
1. During pregnancy, progesterone levels increase leading to relaxation and pressure decrease of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle. Due to this reason, the sphincter muscle fails to stop the stomach contents from refluxing into the esophagus. When this happens, the gastric contents reflux into the esophagus causing the burning sensation.
2. Another cause of heartburn during pregnancy is the pressure exerted to the stomach by the growing fetus in the uterus. As the fetus increases in size, the intra abdominal pressure increases compromising an already weakened sphincter muscle. This makes the gastric contents to reflux into the esophagus leading to heartburn.
Precipitating factors of heartburn during pregnancy
• Ingestion of acidic and spicy foods and beverages cause heartburn in that they increase the acidity in the stomach.
• Eating too much food at once is another precipitating factor. This is because the food is not digested fast enough and gastric acid is produced in large amounts to aid in the breakdown of this food.
• Eating fatty foods also predisposes someone to heartburn in that fat requires gastric acid for its digestion.
• Consumption of alcohol is another factor. Alcohol relaxes the sphincter making it easy for gastric contents to reflux into the esophagus leading to heartburn.
Prevention of heartburn during pregnancy
Heartburn during pregnancy is preventable through application of simple but important measures like avoiding eating acidic and spicy foods. This removes the problem of adding more acid into the stomach that will result to heartburn. Avoid alcohol use during pregnancy since alcohol leads to relaxation of the sphincter muscle leading to reflux of gastric contents.
Also, avoid eating late at night. Also, don’t retire to bed immediately after meals. This helps digestion to take place effectively reducing regurgitation possibilities. Avoid caffeine and smoking as they also predispose one to heartburn.
During sleep, avoid tight clothes as they increase pressure in the abdomen. Wear loose fitting clothes during sleep. When going to sleep, make sure to prop up the bed’s head raising it by about six inches. This will prevent the problem of regurgitation and hence prevent heartburn.
Also, make sure that you take plenty of fluids that help in speeding up digestion rate.
Taking yoghurt or a glass of milk are some of the known home remedies for heartburn relief during pregnancy. In addition, a tablespoon of honey dissolved in warm water can relieve heartburn.
If symptoms don’t go away even after the above measures, consult a health care provider. Don’t use over the counter heartburn drugs without medical advice as some drugs might lead to metabolic alkalosis and fluid excess in both the mother and growing fetus.