Heartburn in pregnancy is a ‘‘feeling of burning beginning in the epigastrium and irradiating to the neck’’, and regurgitation as the ‘‘reflux of bitter contents from the stomach to the throat.
Heartburn in pregnancy is the commonest problem in 85% of pregnant females. Thank god it’s not a big problem which could affect the outcome of pregnancy.
It’s all because of your hormonal changes. It affects pregnancy but quality of life of females is affected most. The food intake of females decreases.
Though this problem is seen in pregnant females from the first trimester itself, the 3rd trimester is the real-time when it’s on full fledged.
In this blog we will try to understand why heartburn in pregnancy occurs and how we can deal with it.
- Why Heartburn in Pregnancy?
- Dealing with Heartburn in Pregnancy
- Medical Management For Heartburn in Pregnancy
- Frequently Asked Question
1. Why Heartburn in Pregnancy?
In the beginning, heartburn is caused by hormones. Your estrogen , progesterone slows down your digestive system. Because your food stays in your stomach longer than usual, it results in bloating, gas, and yes, occasional heartburn.
Later in the third trimester, it is your little champ which is responsible alongside your hormones. By now your baby has grown to the size of a small chicken, and putting a small chicken in anyone’s stomach would no doubt cause some discomfort.
Nausea and vomiting which you get in the first three months can also be because of heartburn in pregnancy. And this has a negative effect on health in the long run.
2. Dealing with Heartburn in Pregnancy
Managing Heartburn in pregnancy is challenging. Just remember the first rule that you can’t avoid it. Heartburn and acid reflux is a normal process which will occur in your body.
Hence don’t panic because of gastric distress. Just be cool and try to accept this pregnancy phenomenon and enjoy your pregnancy. I know it’s difficult but for your baby anything is less.
Let’s discuss some methods which you can follow and reduce your gastric distress problem.
i. Lifestyle Modification for Heartburn in Pregnancy
Lifestyle modification is actually a fundamental method of preventing any kind of disease in any phase of life. Pregnancy is not new at all.
Lifestyle modification is the key to treating a mild type of heartburn in pregnancy.
ii. Take Small Meals
Divide your meal in frequency. Don’t eat huge amounts at a time. just divide your food in 6-7 meals in a day. take small quantities at a time. This will help your digestive system work better and efficiently.
You can easily divide your food like pre-breakfast, breakfast, lunch , snacks and dinner. Along with these major meals try to have something in between hours.
iii. Never Eat late At Night
Once you have divided meals in frequency your next target should be not eating food late at night. Try to have food at least 2-3 hours before bed. You must avoid late-night eating because it could create problem indigestion.
iv. Sleeping Position
Try to sleep your head elevated .You can elevate the head of your bed slightly so that acid reflux does not occur. The gravitational pull is downwards hence it will relieve your heartburn.
v. Chew your food Properly
Try to chew your food properly. Don’t hurry while eating food. Eat slowly and chew food properly because chewing stimulates the salivary glands and can help neutralize acid.
You can use chewing gum also. Chewing gum will also stimulate your salivary gland. Saliva is basic in nature hence this will neutralize excess acid which is released.
vi. Check your Food
Try to avoid fatty and spicy foods. Include different types of food in your menu. Fat indigestion is a major contributor of heartburn in pregnancy. Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
vii. Consult Your Doctor
So your symptoms are not relieved by lifestyle and dietary changes then you need to consult your doctor. you need to visit him and say what is happening.
There are different medicines available which doctors give and are safe to give. Never ever take any medicine by your own during pregnancy.
3. Medical Management For Heartburn in Pregnancy
The major problem of taking medicine in pregnancy is that they can be harmful. Let your doctor decide about these medicines. Here I will point out some medicines which are safe and your doctor might use.
Antacids are fast and effective at relieving the symptoms of heartburn in pregnancy and are preferred as a result of the immediate symptom relief provided.They are safe.
Aluminium salt antacids are safer than magnesium salt. Avoid magnesium for the long term. Don’t use sodium bicarbonate.
You can use sucralfate which is an aluminium salt of a sulphated disaccharide. It inhibits pepsin activity and protects against ulcers.
It is poorly absorbed from the GI tract, exerting its mucosal protection through a local, rather than systemic action
ii. Other Medicines
There are two groups of medicine histamine receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors(PPI). These two groups are also safe for use.
The histamine receptor antagonist is the most commonly used and safest
medication for the pregnant woman with heartburn not responding to lifestyle modification and nonabsorbable medication. Cimetidine,
Ranitidine, Famotidine, and Nizatidine are few of them.
PPIs should only be used during pregnancy in women with well-defined complicated Gastric distress, not responding to lifestyle changes, antacids, and histamine receptor antagonists.
Heartburn is a common gastrointestinal symptom that occurs during pregnancy. Although the symptom is often mild, it may disturb the pregnant woman.
There are different ways to treat Acid Reflux and heartburn in pregnancy. These interventions include advice on diet, lifestyle modification, medications, and complementary therapies.
Take heartburn as a normal consequence of pregnancy. Don’t get stressed because of this. Remember stress is one big factor of gastric distress. It is treatable and has no negative effect. Just don’t let it develop in full fledged.
You may also like to read: What Not to Eat During Pregnancy, Foods to Avoid?
5. Frequently Asked Question
Ans 1.Antacids, Sucrafalte , Histamine receptor Antagonists are best and safe medicine used.
Ans 2: Not really, but yes you can see this in pregnancy.
Ans 3:Eat several small meals each day instead of three large ones.
1. Eat slowly.
2. Avoid fried, spicy, or rich (fatty) foods or any foods that seem to cause relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter
Drink less while eating.
Ans4 : Heartburn is common during pregnancy because, as the stomach is pushed higher by the growing baby and the expanding uterus, it becomes easier for acid to move backwards (or “reflux”) from the stomach into the lower esophagus.
Ans5 :No, never take any medicine by your own in pregnancy. Most medicine are teratogenic. At least never till first 10 weeks.