Heartburn in Pregnancy – How Can You Avoid it?

Heartburn, one of those super annoying pregnancy symptoms! Just when you’ve just got over the nausea of early pregnancy, then kicks in the heartburn and you’re wondering if you’ll ever be able to enjoy your favourite meal again…

During pregnancy, your body produces large amounts of the hormone progesterone which relaxes smooth muscle tissues in your body, which includes the muscles which control your gastrointestinal tract. Therefore your whole system slows down. This is great for your baby, as it allows time for all those nutrients you’re eating to be absorbed and transferred to your baby for their growth and development. But not very comfortable for you when it results in bloating, gas and heartburn!

The ring of muscle which separates your stomach from your oesophagus also relaxes, plus the growing uterus of your pregnancy pushes everything upwards.  Your stomach acid, therefore, goes up and into your oesophagus causing irritation and that burning sensation.

So how can you avoid it?

  • Avoid anything that you know triggers your heartburn. Women will find they may have some foods which trigger their heartburn more than others. Citrus fruits, spicy foods, carbonated drinks and very fatty foods are some of the main culprits!
  • Keep upright, maintain good posture whilst eating and don’t slouch. After your meal, stay sitting upright for a period of time. Therefore it is a good idea to eat your evening meal at least 2 hours before you go to bed, this allows time for it to digest before laying down.
  • Eat little and often. Instead of 3 big meals a day, eat smaller and more frequently so your stomach does not get over distended and your body can digest food better.
  • Chew! This is the first step of digestion, so the more you chew the less work the rest of your system has to do, which therefore aids digestion.

So what can you do to relieve symptoms?

  • Drink a small glass of cold almond milk. Almonds neutralise stomach acid and the coolness of the milk can relieve symptoms.
  • Chew sugar-free gum, this produces excess saliva which can neutralise the stomach acid. However, some women find the minty flavour can exacerbate the heartburn so choose a fruity flavour instead.
  • Discuss with your healthcare providers suitable medications you can take to relieve symptoms, over the counter remedies such as Rennies or Gaviscon are available, or you may need antacid tablets prescribed if your symptoms are very severe. But always discuss with your healthcare providers before taking any medicated options.

Unfortunately, if you suffer from heartburn during your pregnancy it is likely to stick around until your baby is born. Some research does suggest that babies born to mothers with lots of heartburn do have more hair. So if you’re suffering from heartburn you may want to add a comb to the list of baby essentials to buy!

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