Almost all women experience heartburn during pregnancy. Heartburn is usually characterised by an uncomfortable burning feeling in the chest and around the throat.
Though heartburn is usually associated with problems in the digestion process, even those women who take good care of their diet and have never experienced heartburn earlier may experience it during pregnancy.
This is usually caused due to an excess of digestive juices in the stomach. Sometimes, these juices can reach the chest and throat, causing burning sensations. You may also feel an acidic and sour taste in your mouth while experiencing heartburn.
Heartburn may also be caused during pregnancy due to the increase in hormones in the body. This hormone increase causes the lower oesophagal sphincter to remain closed very tightly. The increasing uterus and the pressure in the abdomen may cause the sphincter to open inadvertently, allowing contents of the stomach to be pushed into the oesophagus.
What Is Heartburn
Heartburn is a burning feeling in your chest that happens when acidic stomach fluid, called acid, comes back up into the oesophagus. This can happen because there is too much stomach acid or too little saliva to protect the oesophagus.
Acid reflux can be caused by lifestyle factors such as overeating, drinking too much alcohol, or smoking. It may also be caused by certain medical conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), pregnancy, obesity, and being overweight.
Is Pregnancy Heartburn Common
Heartburn is a condition that causes burning pain in the chest, usually behind the breastbone. It’s caused by stomach acid moving up into your oesophagus.
It may be a problem for pregnant women because their growing bellies push on their stomachs and can cause heartburn. Heartburn happens when you eat or drink something that bothers your stomach, like spicy foods or caffeine.
During pregnancy, some women get heartburn more often than before. Others find that it happens less often than before they were pregnant.
Symptoms of Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn is a common symptom during pregnancy, but it can be scary and uncomfortable.
If you’re experiencing heartburn, it’s important to keep calm and know the symptoms. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Pain in your chest or upper abdomen
- Tingling or burning sensation in your throat and mouth
- Feeling like food is stuck in your throat after eating (unable to swallow)
Heartburn can feel awful. | Image source: iStock
What Does Heartburn Feel Like in Pregnancy
Heartburn is a common pregnancy symptom, and it can be very uncomfortable. Heartburn is caused by an increase in the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the muscles in your oesophagus and allows stomach acid to rise into your oesophagus.
This can cause a burning sensation in your chest or throat and make you feel like you need to vomit.
When Does Heartburn Start in Pregnancy
Heartburn is a common symptom of pregnancy, but when does it start?
The short answer: It depends.
Heartburn can occur sooner or later in your pregnancy, depending on how far along you are and whether or not you had heartburn before getting pregnant. For example, if you experienced heartburn before getting pregnant, you might experience it sooner than if you didn’t have any previous experience with heartburn.
However, if this is your first pregnancy, you may not experience symptoms until after your 12th week of pregnancy—the point at which the uterus begins to expand and grow.
What Causes Heartburn in Early Pregnancy
Heartburn is a common early pregnancy symptom and can be very uncomfortable. Here’s what causes heartburn in early pregnancy and how to manage it.
The hormone progesterone rises during pregnancy, which can cause your stomach to produce more acid. The extra acid causes the digestive system to work faster than usual and may lead to heartburn.
This also explains why some women experience heartburn sooner than others during their pregnancies: The more pregnant you are, the higher your progesterone levels will be!
Image source: iStock
How to Ease Heartburn During Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you might notice that your heartburn worsens as the months go by. You might also wonder if it’s safe to use over-the-counter heartburn medications while you’re pregnant. The answer is yes—but only when used as directed.
Here are some tips for easing heartburn during pregnancy:
- Eat smaller meals. Eat several small meals instead of three large ones each day.
- Avoid foods that trigger heartburn. These include fried foods, carbonated drinks, chocolate, mints and gum, spicy foods, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato sauce, fatty meats and dairy products (especially blue cheese), and caffeinated drinks like coffee or cola. Also, avoid alcohol in any form during pregnancy because it can cause birth defects and other serious problems for both mother and fetus. If you have heartburn from these foods or beverages now but don’t want to give them up completely while pregnant, try eating them occasionally instead of daily.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day so your body stays hydrated and doesn’t experience dehydration, which can also contribute to heartburn!
- Sit upright after eating instead of lying down flat.
Natural Ways To Reduce Heartburn
Heartburn is a common ailment, and it can be debilitating. If you’re finding that your heartburn is getting worse, there are some natural ways to help ease the pain and get relief.
Take good care of your diet
Do spend time to figure out which food is triggering your heartburn so you can avoid them. Do also graze on small snacks throughout the day instead of eating a big feast. This will ensure less acid in your stomach at any given point. Lastly, do not snack before bedtime – try to keep a two-hour snack-free time before sleep.
While it’s good to drink a lot of water, avoid drinking while you’re eating. Doing so increases the volume going into your stomach, which only puts pressure on your digestive valves and allows the upward flow of partially digested foods. Take small sips if you need to help you swallow, and then have more water between meals.
Don’t lie down after a meal
Pregnancy makes you want to nap — a lot — but it’s important not to take your 40 winks too soon after eating. Wait an hour if you can, and if you just can’t stay awake, try taking a snooze sitting up. To avoid heartburn at night and get a better night’s sleep, avoid eating anything three hours before bedtime.
Prop yourself up to sleep
Lying down makes reflux worse, so always have your head and shoulders propped up at an angle with plenty of pillows when you sleep. This will also open up passageways so you can breathe better.
If you’re not wearing loose-fitting clothes to adjust to your growing body, this could also be adding to your pregnancy heartburn. Tight clothes, especially around your waist, will only make you more uncomfortable and not help in proper digestion. Switch to some more comfortable clothes — it could really help!
If you hate that sour taste in your mouth, try chewing on something like a breath mint, piece of gum or gummy bear. The chewing motion helps your mouth produce saliva, which can reduce acid in your oesophagus and the minty taste will help eliminate that metallic taste in your mouth.
It’s important not to forget about exercise during pregnancy. Exercise improves your metabolic rate, which can rev up that sluggish digestion that’s so common with pregnancy. You will also maintain a healthier weight, an added plus, as obesity can contribute to acid reflux.
Plus, exercise releases “happy hormones” and can help combat those mood swings you have for no reason. Win-win!
Image Source: Shutterstock
How Long Does Heartburn Last After Pregnancy
While it’s normal to experience heartburn during the third trimester of pregnancy, it can continue to be an issue even after your baby is born. For most women, heartburn will go away within a few weeks of giving birth. But for others, it can last longer—sometimes for months or years.
If you’re having issues with heartburn long after pregnancy, there are a few things you should know:
1) Your diet may be to blame—don’t eat foods that cause heartburn, such as alcohol, caffeine, tomato sauce and chocolate.
2) Try eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of three big meals; this way, you’ll avoid overloading on food at any one time, which can cause reflux (the upward flow of stomach acid into your oesophagus).
3) If heartburn continues after three weeks postpartum, see your doctor as something else may be happening, like gallbladder disease or acid reflux disease, causing this problem.
Updates from Pheona Ilagan
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