Heartburn during pregnancy can actually get worse with each trimester, unless you learn to prevent and control it. While you cannot completely prevent heartburn during pregnancy, there are ways to minimize the frequency with which it occurs and reduce the severity when you attack.
Keep a food diary to track foods that cause heartburn. Common triggers include spicy and fried foods, processed sausages, mint, chocolate, caffeine and soft drinks.
Eat smaller and more frequent meals because It can digest them faster and more easily, which can lead to less acid reflux.
If changes in your lifestyle and diet do not work, it is when doctors can recommend medications, such as an antacid or an H2 blocker.
This article was reviewed by Julia Simon, MD, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UChicago Medicine.
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When you get pregnant for the first time, the possibility of "eating for two" certainly seems great. But once you enter those magical nine months, you realize that perception and reality do not always coincide.
Sure, there is that extra help or two of lasagna that tastes so good. And nobody is surprised when you order the double cheeseburger, french fries, and milkshake – big please. However, for most women, in the middle of the moments of feeding released, there are also less tasty moments: nausea, nausea, constipation and, last but not least, heartburn.
You know the feeling. Heartburn is that burning sensation in the chest that goes from the stomach to the throat and sometimes has a sour or bitter taste in the back of the mouth.
It is already quite difficult to handle when you are not pregnant. But pregnancy takes it to a whole new level, because having heartburn during pregnancy can actually get worse with each trimester unless you learn how to prevent and control it. Fortunately, there are some strategies to help you get great relief.
If you are pregnant, you will probably have heartburn
Heartburn is one of the most common digestive symptoms that women experience at some time during pregnancy.
"About 85% of women experience heartburn or other forms of gastroesophageal reflux in pregnancy," says Dr. Aparna Sridhar, a gynecologist and associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA. "I discuss this with almost all my patients at least once during pregnancy. With most of them, I continue to discuss this problem at least every trimester."
Pregnancy itself increases the risk of heartburn
Normally, there are certain factors, such as your weight, if you smoke and your genes, that can increase your chance of heartburn. But when you are pregnant, it is pregnancy itself that makes you more susceptible.
"There are two main factors," says Dr. Renee Wellenstein, DO, who is a double-certified gynecologist. One that is hormonal and another that is physical.
Heartburn is caused by acid reflux, when food and digestive fluids, which contain acids, accumulate in the esophagus and create an uncomfortable burn. That backup can occur when you are pregnant because you have higher than normal levels of progesterone, which can – one – slowly digest and – two – relax the muscle, called the esophageal sphincter, that separates the esophagus and stomach.
Combined, these two factors create the perfect storm for heartburn because slow digestion can lead to increased back-up accumulation in the esophagus and the relaxed muscle facilitates acid entry.
"The other factor is the growth of the uterus that physically pushes the stomach as it grows," says Wellenstein.
As a result, heartburn tends to get worse during pregnancy. Fortunately, all the changes in your body that cause heartburn during pregnancy disappear quickly after giving birth. So, at least that's something you can expect to leave in the hospital when you bring your newborn home.
Drug-free approaches to try
While you cannot completely prevent heartburn during pregnancy, there are ways to minimize the frequency with which it occurs and reduce the severity when you attack.
Below are some tips from Wellenstein, Sridhar and experts from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Avoid food triggers. Keep a food diary to track foods that cause heartburn. Common triggers include spicy and fried foods, processed sausages, mint, chocolate, caffeine and soft drinks. Some people are also affected by acidic foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar and mustard.
Adjust your environment and your body. Raise your head on a pair of stacked pillows or a wedge pillow, and lie on your left side, which is generally recommended during pregnancy anyway after 20 weeks of gestation. This is important because it allows gravity to help keep the digestion moving to the right, down, in the direction and away from the esophagus where the pain is felt.
Eat smaller and more frequent meals.: It can digest smaller meals faster and more easily, which can lead to less acid reflux.
Take care of your time: Eat two or three hours before bedtime, says Wallenstein. You should stay upright after eating so that gravity can help your food get out of the stomach into the small intestine, minimizing the chances of acids escaping into the esophagus.
Neutralize it. You can try to neutralize the acid in different ways. First, try chewing gum to generate more saliva in your esophagus. Human saliva has a pH between 6.2 and 7.6 that can help neutralize any acidity. Milk has a pH similar to saliva, around 6.6, so you can also try to find relief by drinking some milk or a couple of tablespoons of yogurt. Baking soda is another remedy. Wellenstein says to mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water. Baking soda is a natural buffer that can neutralize the acid, unlike some over-the-counter antacids.
Try acupuncture. There is a long history of using acupuncture to help with digestive symptoms such as heartburn and a minimal risk when trying. While research is limited and insufficient in pregnant women, a small well-designed randomized control trial published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine in 2009 found that acupuncture, combined with antacids and dietary advice, is more effective in relieving heartburn symptoms. Stomach during pregnancy I use antacids and dietary advice alone.
Do not smoke While this should be evident during pregnancy for several reasons, it also increases the likelihood of heartburn.
Over-the-counter medications can also help
If changes in your lifestyle and diet do not work, it is when doctors can recommend medications.
Antacids: "Most antacids are considered safe during pregnancy and are compatible with breastfeeding," says Sridhar. Antacids are over-the-counter medications such as Rolaids, Tums and Maalox. And while they may be over the counter, if you are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before taking them.
H2 blockers: If antacids do not work, a doctor may prescribe H2 blockers such as Pepcid. H2 blockers can relieve heartburn because they help you produce less hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thus preventing heartburn even before it starts.
Proton-pump inhibitor: If antacids and H2 blockers do not work, your doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium or Prevacid.
When should I see a doctor for heartburn
Wellenstein tells Insider that heartburn "is rarely a major concern in pregnancy, especially if a woman did not have a problem before pregnancy."
However, if the symptoms become more frequent or severe despite lifestyle and dietary attempts, or "if you develop nausea and vomiting due to the severity of heartburn, you should notify your doctor immediately. And it is an emergency. medical if you start vomiting blood, as this may indicate a more serious condition related to heartburn, "says Wellenstein.
While it can be frustrating and even worrisome to experience heartburn during pregnancy, know that you are certainly not alone and that most women can handle it with a combination of lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications.
And the best news is that it is short lived. Nine months may seem long at times, but soon your heartburn will be nothing more than a distant memory when you receive your precious little one in your life.