9 Ways to Soothe Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
Each woman has a different pregnancy and different symptoms. Some have morning sickness and some don’t. Most are very tired during the first trimester and some women have problems with acid reflux instead of nausea associated with morning sickness. This is called heartburn and has nothing to do with your heart. This may be uncomfortable and frustrating but the main question is what can you do about this and how can you stop it? You probably are worried about over the counter medication for your acid reflux but you can talk to your doctor about any questions you have. You can also find out what causes heartburn as well.
As you digest food when you are pregnant, food goes down through the esophagus and then through another muscle valve which is called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and into the stomach. The LES leads to your stomach and lets food pass through and then closes. This is the small doorway that closes to stop the stomach acids from coming back up into your throat.
When pregnant women have heartburn or acid reflux, the LES relaxes in order to let the stomach acid rise back up to the esophagus. This is the cause of the burning and pain in women’s chest area. There are also many hormonal changes during pregnancy and the hormone changes let the muscles in the esophagus relax more often. The main result is more acids collect and come back up, especially if you lay down right after a meal.
Your baby is also growing during the whole pregnancy and your uterus stretches to accommodate the growth. This puts your stomach under pressure and can cause food and acid to be shoved back up into the esophagus.
Heartburn is very common for people at one time or another, but this doesn’t only happen to pregnant women. Don’t think your pregnant if you have heartburn make sure have other symptoms that can indicate a possible pregnancy.
Pregnancy and heartburn
Women that are pregnant do have an increased risk of heartburn or acid reflux. In the first trimester, the esophagus pushes food more slowly into your stomach and food digests slower. This gives your body more time to absorb the needed nutrients for the baby, but can also cause heartburn. Each woman is different and this doesn’t always mean that pregnant women are going to have heartburn. Many factors are considered including diet, daily habits, and your pregnancy.
9 tips to help pregnant women cope with heartburn/acid reflux
In order to relieve heartburn during pregnancy involves different methods. Changing your habits can help to reduce heartburn and are more safe for both mom and baby. Here are some tips to help you if you are pregnant with heartburn/acid reflux.
- Eat small meals and don’t drink fluids while you are eating. Drink water between meals
- Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
- Don’t eat a few hours before bedtime
- Stay away from foods and drinks that trigger heartburn. This includes chocolate, fatty foods, spicy foods, acidic foods, carbonation and caffeine
- Don’t lay down for at least an hour after eating. Take a small walk to help with digestion
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Keep a healthy weight
- Elevate your upper body while sleeping with pillows
- Sleep on your left side to encourage more blood flow
Tums, Rolaids, and Maalox are a big help with mild heartburn. You can buy these over the counter and for a reasonable price. There is calcium carbonate or magnesium in this medication to help with the heartburn and acid reflux. You might want to stay away from magnesium during the last trimester of your pregnancy. Magnesium has been known to interfere with contractions with labor.
Doctors do recommend avoiding antacids that have high amounts of sodium. These antacids can lead to a buildup of extra fluid in the tissues of the body. Don’t take any antacids that have aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate. These chemicals can lead to constipation. Don’t take Alka Seltzer that has aspirin. Talk to your doctor about the best ideas for medications. Don’t eat tons of antacids because your heartburn is so terribly uncomfortable. You might have gastroesophageal acid reflux instead which is called GERD. Women that develop GERD while being pregnant need a stronger medication and need to talk to their doctors.
When to call the doctor
When you can’t sleep because of heartburn and antacids are not doing the trick, call your doctor. In addition, watch for black stools, problems swallowing, coughing, and weight loss because of other symptoms that are created from the heartburn. You might have a serious problem that needs medical care. This is when you might find out you have GERD. This just means your heartburn is out of control and needs to be more controlled. GERD causes more complications like scarring of the esophagus.
Your doctor might prescribe medication to help with GERD. Research has been done and shows that medication with H2 blockers blocks acid production and the medication is safe. Your doctor is always willing to talk to you about the safety of medications if you are concerned. There is another kind of medication called proton pump inhibitor that is used for people with heartburn that aren’t having any luck with other medications. Doctors are there to help you with everything and are able to help you manage your symptoms and protect your fetus.
Heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are very uncomfortable and need to be treated. Don’t be afraid to call your doctor at any time because you want to protect your baby and you don’t want your symptoms to get worse. The main concern you have is keeping the nutrients in your body that are healthy for the baby so the baby grows and is healthy. You also need to take care of yourself as an expectant mother so you are healthy and the baby stays healthy. The second and third trimesters are usually very exciting and a woman feels at peace with herself and doesn’t need to worry about her health. Other than the first trimester, the last 6 weeks may be a bit uncomfortable but remember to eat smaller meals and about 6 meals a day. Take a good prenatal vitamin and take it on a full stomach. Hopefully, you can avoid the symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux and GERD.