For many women, changes occur from head to toe when they are pregnant. You may think that the only “change” you will experience will be a growing belly – but prepare yourself now that is not likely to be the case. Most women experience several changes during pregnancy that they were not prepared for. Whether it is melasma, restless leg syndrome, acne, or heartburn, it is better to understand the changes you may experience ahead of time so that you can handle them well.
Heartburn is an unpleasant occurrence for many women during pregnancy. Even women who have never experienced heartburn before becoming pregnant can experience the pain and discomfort while they are expecting.
Heartburn is caused by stomach acids that travel back up the esophagus instead of down. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) at the end of the throat is designed to help digested food stay down. However, during pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is produced and can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to become relaxed. When this occurs, the LES may fail to keep stomach acids down, resulting in heartburn. Heartburn is also compounded by a pregnant woman’s growing belly, which pushes her organs up in her abdominal cavity, causing further pressure on the esophagus.
Here are tips to help you manage heartburn throughout pregnancy:
- Eat small meals that are easy to digest.
- Avoid “trigger foods” known for causing heartburn: spicy foods, coffee, acidic foods, carbonated beverages, and chocolate.
- Sleep elevated with a few pillows propping you up. This will help acids stay down past the LES.
- Consider eating smoothies as your meals. Liquids are more easily digested, and you can pack a smoothie with high nutritional foods.
- Keep antacids on hand. Tums are safe to take during all stages of pregnancy. You will just need to wait at least one hour before taking a prenatal vitamin, as the calcium in antacids can block iron absorption.
If heartburn is causing you trouble during pregnancy, the staff at Marietta OB/GYN Affiliates, P.A., is here to help you. Contact us today.