You've begun your second trimester. Morning sickness has passed. You are beginning to get your second wind when bam it hits you - heartburn! Heartburn is a burning sensation that occurs when acidic stomach contents back up into the esophagus. This reflux typically occurs a few hours after meals and is very common during pregnancy. Pregnancy may be the first time you have experienced heartburn. We hope to provide some tips to help relieve you of heartburn.
What causes heartburn in pregnancy?
One of the reasons women experience heartburn in pregnancy is that the stomach is displaced and compressed by your growing uterus and baby. There is less room in your stomach. Therefore there is a return of stomach contents into the esophagus.
Another reason for heartburn during pregnancy is the effects of progesterone on the gastrointestinal system. Progesterone has a relaxing effect on the body. This helps to keep the uterus from contracting. This relaxing effect also relaxes the esophageal sphincter leading to increased reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus.
What can I do to treat heartburn in pregnancy?
- Avoid eating large meals. Small, frequent meals are best.
- Avoid foods that can further relax the esophagus such as alcohol, peppermint, garlic, and chocolate.
- Avoid foods that irritate the stomach such as peppers, tomatoes and tomato products, carbonated beverages, and spicy foods
- Avoid eating before bed. Stopping eating at least two hours before bed can reduce heartburn.
- Use pillows to keep your head slightly elevated when sleeping.
If none of these tips work, you may consider using an antacid. Consult your doctor before taking any medication. Antacids can cause constipation particularly when overused. Discuss any medications with your doctor before use.