How to Handle Heartburn While Pregnant - Treatments and Prevention
Heartburn is one of the many problems that comes with being pregnant. Not only does this condition cause discomfort, but it can keep you awake at night too. No one wants to deal with heartburn, but sometimes it is inevitable. In this article, we will discuss how to handle heartburn while pregnant, including treatments for heartburn and preventions for heartburn.
Heartburn While Pregnant
Heartburn while pregnant typically begins to occur in the first trimester and continues throughout your pregnancy. Despite its name, heartburn is not related to your heart. Heartburn is when your stomach contents move up into the esophagus. Because of the acidity of your stomach acid, this causes a burning feeling in your chest and throat.
Causes of Heartburn While Pregnant
During pregnancy your body produces a large amount of the hormones progesterone and relaxin. These hormones are responsible for relaxing your muscles so that your growing baby has room in the uterus. In addition, this slows down the digestive process which can cause indigestion, gas, and heartburn.
The slow digestive process is beneficial during pregnancy because it allows the nutrients from your food to be absorbed more thoroughly. This helps your baby absorb the nutrients and benefit from them. An unfortunate side effect is that your gastrointestinal tract doesn’t work as well.
At the top of your stomach there is a valve that opens and closes at the entrance to your stomach. The increase of these hormones causes this valve to not open and close properly. This allows your stomach acids and digestive fluids to escape the stomach. Unlike your stomach, your esophagus is composed of a thin and sensitive lining. This lining can be easily irritated by these stomach acids. The result is a burning sensation at the opening which is located near the heart, thus the term heartburn.
How to Handle Heartburn While Pregnant
Heartburn is uncomfortable but you don’t just have to suffer through it. Thankfully, there are a few treatment options that are safe and available for pregnant women to use.
- Take an Antacid: Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox are all safe and effective ways to treat heartburn. Not only will these medications help ease heartburn, but they also contain calcium which is a necessary nutrient for fetal development. These are all available over the counter and are relatively inexpensive. Try to avoid antacids that may contain aspirin such as Alka-Seltzer.
- Try Drinking a Glass of Milk: If you aren’t quite ready to reach for the medications, try drinking a small glass of almond milk. Many mothers-to-be find milk to be a soothing antidote for heartburn.
- Try using Ginger Candy: Ginger is a natural remedy for nausea. So, many people find it also helps with heartburn. You can find some ginger candies to relieve the heartburn. Try to avoid ginger ale, because carbonation can make your heartburn worse.
- Chew Gum: When you chew gum your body produces more saliva. Saliva can neutralize the acidity of your stomach acids. However, try not to chew on minty gum as this can make your heartburn worse.
How to Prevent Heartburn While Pregnant
While there are many methods for treating heartburn, you will probably want to prevent heartburn in the first place. There are some everyday things that you can do to decrease the probability of getting heartburn.
- Eat small meals throughout the day. Eat several small meals or snacks instead of three large meals. This will prevent your stomach from becoming too full which can lead to heartburn.
- Avoid certain foods. Things such as caffeine, spicy foods, citrus, carbonated beverages, and fried/greasy foods can increase your probability of getting heartburn. If you find that a certain food usually causes you heartburn then avoid them.
When To Contact Your Doctor
If your heartburn won’t go away or you are prone to heartburn, try talking to your doctor. They can prescribe medication that is more effective than what you get over the counter. They also will be able to prescribe you medication that is safe during pregnancy. Typically, heartburn will go away after childbirth, but if it doesn’t contact your physician.
Heartburn is common among pregnant women. It is caused by pregnancy hormones and can lead to a burning sensation in your chest and throat. There are medications and home remedies that you can use to treat heartburn. The best way to deal with heartburn is to try to prevent it. If your heartburn is severe, prolonged, or you are prone to heartburn, talk to your doctor. Heartburn is one of the unfortunate side effects of the hormones that come with pregnancy. Thankfully after pregnancy, these hormones steadily decrease so you likely won’t experience heartburn anymore.
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