Heartburn during pregnancy: What expectant moms should know

by Rita Watkins

Heartburn during pregnancy: What expectant moms should know

When it comes to pregnancy symptoms, a particularly annoying one is acid reflux. Some expecting women may be first-timers experiencing this reaction in their digestive tracts after consuming certain foods and beverages, while others may already be familiar with the unpleasant sensation.

Acid reflux, also known as heartburn or acid indigestion, is often described as a burning sensation that tends to be present in the throat or upper chest - those who are unfamiliar with the condition may think it's a heart attack at first! In addition, some individuals report that they also feel nauseated or find that they burp more than usual. Sometimes, the discomfort is felt more prominently when lying down or bending over. 

It's those pregnancy hormones
Although it may feel awful, in most cases there isn't much to worry about. It's ultimately the result of stomach acid not staying put in your stomach and creeping up into the esophagus. This may happen more during pregnancy than it does when a woman isn't with child because there is more progesterone circulating through the body. This hormone slows down the digestive system, which can make a pregnant woman's belly fuller, resulting in less room in her stomach, so acid may run into the esophagus.

Plus, it doesn't help that your little one presses up against your stomach.

The good news is that it's unlikely that acid reflux will constantly bother you. For most women, the sensation comes and goes and may be dependent on what they eat. Therefore, it may be wise for affected moms-to-be to talk to their healthcare providers about what could potentially be causing it and how to reduce their symptoms.

Figure out what triggers it
If you can identify the foods or drinks that cause acid reflux, eliminating them from your diet can be an easy solution. Some common culprits include citrus fruits, processed meats, carbonated beverages, tomatoes, onions, chocolate, mint and fatty or fried foods. Besides avoiding things that trigger the burning sensation, it may help to eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three big ones.

Also, thoroughly chewing your food can help your body digest it, reducing the chance of having acid reflux. 

Some other tips include avoiding the intake of large quantities of fluids at once, chewing gum after eating, not eating close to bedtime and sleeping propped up. In addition, over-the-counter antacids can be beneficial in relieving any gastrointestinal discomfort.

Expecting moms who are worried that acid reflux may harm their babies can take a breath in relief. Although it may be annoying, it doesn't pose any threat to your little one.

What were your experiences with heartburn during pregnancy? How did you relieve your symptoms? Did you find it helpful to avoid certain foods? Let our readers know and leave your answers in the comments section!