Heartburn During Pregnancy
It is not at all uncommon to experience heartburn during pregnancy for the first time. In fact, more than half of all pregnant women report symptoms of severe heartburn, especially as the pregnancy progresses to later stages.
There are two reasons that heartburn during pregnancy occurs. First, the hormone progesterone is produced by the placenta in large amounts.
This hormone causes relaxation of smooth muscles, like the muscle that prevents acid from flowing backward from the stomach into the esophagus (swallowing tube).
Progesterone can also slow down the wavelike contractions of the muscles in your GI tract that to help propel food along. This means that food remains in the stomach for a longer period, which leads to the production of more acid.
The second cause of heartburn during pregnancy is the baby itself. As your baby grows, he or she takes up more room in your abdomen and crowds other organs, including your stomach.
This increase in pressure on the stomach forces acid past the value discussed above and into the esophagus.
If you are experiencing heartburn during pregnancy, your first thought will be relief and what is safe for the baby. There are a number of heartburn remedies that you can try that are safe during pregnancy.
One of the most important remedies involves avoidance of triggering foods. Common triggers include carbonated drinks, caffeine, citrus fruit, chocolate, tomatoes, onions, and fatty foods.
In addition to avoiding certain foods, portion control is also very effective. You probably find yourself snacking throughout the day anyway, but make sure you avoid large meals and chew your food well.
Why is chewing an effective way to combat heartburn during pregnancy? Surprisingly, the answer has nothing to do with the size of your food.
Chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which contains bicarbonate. Bicarbonate is a natural antacid and will help to neutralize the acid your stomach is producing.
Doing anything you can to relieve the tension on your abdomen can help reduce heartburn symptoms. Wear loose fitting clothing and avoiding bending at the waist. Additionally, don’t lie down immediately after a meal and prop your head up when you are in bed. This helps to ensure that acid does not flow back into your esophagus.
Medications like Tums, Malox, and Mylanta are generally safe for treating heartburn during pregnancy. You will want to check with your physician before taking any over-the-counter medication though.
You many not require the large amounts of calcium and magnesium in these medications, so it is wise to ensure they are safe for you. Baking soda is also an effective remedy for heartburn.
Just be sure to check with your physician to ensure it is safe as the salt that it contains may cause an increase in your blood pressure. Avoid any antacid that contains aluminum.
New studies are indicating that heartburn medications like Prilosec are safe for pregnant women. Check with your doctor though before starting anything like this. If you can avoid it, it is better to stick with the alternatives above until more evidence is available.