Heartburn During Pregnancy Is Common: Tips To Mitigate Risk

Published: May 23, 2023, 10:30am IST

Pregnancy is a beautiful experience, but it can also bring discomfort at the same time. One of the most common problems pregnant women face is heartburn. The burning sensation in the chest and throat can be quite uncomfortable and painful, especially at night or after meals. Heartburn during pregnancy is a common problem that affects many pregnant women.

Although there is no specific cause for heartburn, certain variables contribute to its growth. First, as the baby grows and takes up more space in the abdomen, it can put pressure on the stomach, causing acid reflux and heartburn. Other than that, hormonal changes are a typical cause of heartburn during pregnancy. An increase in progesterone levels can relax the muscles that normally keep stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Even spicy foods, citrus fruits and juices, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and fatty or fried foods are also known to trigger heartburn attacks.

What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?

1. Hormonal changes

Increased levels of hormones, particularly progesterone, relax the muscles of the digestive tract, including the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This relaxation allows stomach acid to flow into the esophagus, causing heartburn.

Also read: A Top Gynae Reveals 8 Pregnancy Problems You Can’t Afford To Ignore

Hormonal imbalance can trigger heartburn during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Increased pressure on the stomach

As the pregnancy progresses, the growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach, which can push stomach acid up into the esophagus. This pressure contributes to the development of heartburn symptoms.

3. Reduced gastric emptying

Pregnancy hormones can also slow down the rate at which the stomach empties its contents. This delay in gastric emptying can lead to increased acid production and longer exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid, leading to heartburn.

4. Dietary factors

Certain foods and drinks can trigger or worsen heartburn during pregnancy. These include spicy, fatty, or fried foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and acidic foods.

Also read: Pregnant and tired? Highly nutritious foods to binge during pregnancy

5. Physical changes

As the baby grows, the expanding uterus can push up on the stomach, further increasing the likelihood of acid reflux and heartburn.

6. Stress and emotional factors

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate heartburn symptoms. Pregnancy is often accompanied by emotional changes and increased stress levels, which can contribute to the development or worsening of heartburn.

stress and heartburn during pregnancy
Learn how stress can trigger heartburn during pregnancy. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips for moms-to-be to avoid heartburn

Lifestyle plays an important role in preventing and managing heartburn during pregnancy. Some tips that can help expectant mothers include:

1. Adequate nutrition

Avoid trigger foods that can make heartburn symptoms worse. These can include spicy, fatty, or fried foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and acidic foods. Opt for lighter, less irritating options that are easy on your stomach.

2. Eat slowly and chew well

Give yourself plenty of time while eating and make sure you chew your food well. Eating slowly can help prevent overeating and improve digestion, which reduces the likelihood of heartburn.

Also read: 5 summer foods that a woman should eat during pregnancy

3. Stay upright after meals

Avoid lying down or lying down immediately after eating. Instead, stay in an upright position for at least two to three hours after meals. This helps keep stomach acids low and reduces the chances of acid reflux.

4. Sleep with the upper body elevated

Elevate your upper body while sleeping by supporting pillows or using a wedge-shaped pillow. This can help prevent stomach acids from backing up the esophagus while you sleep.

heartburn during pregnancy
Getting a good night’s sleep is important to avoid heartburn during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Wear loose clothing

Tight clothing, especially around the abdomen, can put pressure on the stomach and aggravate heartburn symptoms. It is recommended to opt for loose and comfortable clothing that does not tighten the abdomen.

6. Proper hydration

Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain adequate hydration. However, avoid drinking large amounts of fluids during meals, as this can contribute to feelings of fullness and increase the risk of heartburn.

7. Stress management

Stress and anxiety can make heartburn symptoms worse. Engage in stress-reducing activities such as gentle exercise, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or prenatal yoga to help manage stress levels and promote relaxation.

8. Regular consultation

If heartburn symptoms persist or become severe, it is recommended to consult your health care provider for further guidance. They can recommend safe and appropriate antacids or other medications to help control heartburn during pregnancy.

Note: While these tips can help, it’s best to talk to your doctor before making lifestyle changes.

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