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Heartburn During Pregnancy-tips and suggestions
Heartburn During Pregnancy
Simple Advice to ease indigestion for pregnant women
Heartburn During Pregnancy: a 2-step solution
As I write this, my wife is 4 months pregnant with our second child. I am learning more about the needs of pregnant mothers in an effort to do what I can to keep her comfortable and make things easier this go around. Hopefully many can benefit from what my research and experience has uncovered.
During the second and particularly the third trimesters, about 70% of pregnant women have some symptoms of heartburn, or acid indigestion. Heartburn (also known as pyrosis) is a burning sensation in the esophagus or chest, caused by what we know as ‘acid reflux,’ when stomach contents ‘come back up.’ Heartburn can also include pain in the jaw or neck. Changes in progesterone and other hormone levels are one cause of heartburn during pregnancy. These hormonal changes can affect how different foods are handled by the digestive tract.
Pregnancy hormones can affect the strength of the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus), allowing stomach acids to spurt back up into the esophagus. Moreover, the enlargement of the uterus can impact the abdomen, which pushes stomach acids upward.
Prevention and Treatment of Heartburn During Pregnancy
Besides the obvious recommendations of avoiding greasy and fatty foods, here are the simplest and safest ways to combat heartburn during pregnancy:
Be sure to eat frequent small meals rather than two or three larger meals. Also, reduce the amount of water you drink with the meals, as large water intake could increase the likelihood of acid reflux. Avoid bending and lying down flat. Especially during latter months of pregnancy, you should try a semi-sitting position by propping yourself up with cushions or pillows. Additionally, raising the head of the chair or bed by a few inches will lessen the pressure and discomfort in the abdomen.
If these are ineffective, the next step is to use a recommended simple antacid like:
- Magnesium Trisilicate
- Aluminum Hydroxide Gel
These two are scientifically proven treatments which are often prescribed by physicians. However, because of a small risk of birth defects, research says these antacid treatments are advised for pregnant mothers beyond the first trimester.
Before you reach for more well-known remedies like Alka-Seltzer, keep in mind that doctors would most likely advise against it, as Alka-Seltzer contains aspirin, which has been linked to Reye's Syndrome. Pregnant women are recommended by the US FDA to avoid any medications containing aspirin, particularly in the last trimester, unless specifically directed to do so by a physician. The World Health Organization considers it to be unsafe while breastfeeding as well.
As with anything, your doctor is the foremost source for medical and health advice. These tips are meant to be a quick informational guide. The mother and child’s health and well-being are always the most important.