Heartburn During Pregnancy, Concerns for Expecting Mothers

Heartburn During Pregnancy, Causes Concern for Expecting Mothers

Several changes in eating patterns and lifestyle can prevent and alleviate heartburn symptoms. Let’s find out the causes and ways to manage heartburn during pregnancy here.

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the chest. This uncomfortable sensation can rise to the throat and also create a bitter or acidic taste behind the throat. Although it’s called “heartburn,” it’s not related to heart conditions.

This condition occurs due to stomach acid moving from the stomach to the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food, liquids, and saliva to the stomach. There’s a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter located between the esophagus and the stomach.

This muscle opens to let food pass and then closes to prevent acid from flowing back into the esophagus. However, if this muscle doesn’t close properly, acid can move into the esophagus, causing heartburn.

What is Heartburn During Pregnancy?

Women may experience gastric acid reflux during pregnancy and feel heartburn due to changes in hormone levels and baby’s growth. Here are some symptoms you might experience while having heartburn:

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  • Feeling a burning sensation or pain in the chest.
  • Feeling bloated or full in the stomach.
  • Burping frequently.
  • Feeling nauseous.
  • Vomiting.

More than half of pregnant women report experiencing severe heartburn, especially during the third trimester. This condition is more common in those who have had previous pregnancies and also in individuals who have experienced heartburn before getting pregnant.

Causes of Heartburn in Pregnant Mothers

There are several factors that can cause pregnant mothers to experience heartburn. Here are some causes of heartburn during pregnancy, including:

  1. Changes in Hormone Levels

A woman’s hormone levels change during pregnancy, affecting the tolerance and digestion of consumed food. These hormones often slow down the digestive system. Food moves more slowly, leading to bloating and heartburn.

  1. Relaxation of the Esophageal Sphincter

Progesterone, known as the pregnancy hormone, can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. When it relaxes, stomach acid can rise into the esophagus.

  1. Enlargement of the Uterus

As the baby grows, a mother’s uterus becomes larger. This can cause a full stomach, pushing stomach acid upward and into the esophagus. This is why heartburn is more common during the third trimester, the last few months of pregnancy. During this time, the baby and uterus have reached their largest size, putting pressure on other organs.

Relieving and Preventing Heartburn During Pregnancy

If you’re experiencing heartburn during pregnancy, try the following natural methods to alleviate symptoms or discomfort:

  • Consume yogurt or drink milk.
  • Add a tablespoon of honey to warm milk and drink it.
  • Consider taking antacid medication, but make sure to consult a doctor before doing so.

To prevent heartburn or acid reflux during pregnancy, you can make changes to your eating habits and lifestyle to reduce discomfort without endangering the baby. Try implementing the following changes to your eating habits:

  • Opt for smaller, more frequent meals instead of larger portions.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Drink fluids between meals, but not during meals.
  • Avoid fried, spicy, or fatty foods.
  • Stay away from acidic fruits and citrus juices.
  • Limit caffeine intake.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol. Besides causing heartburn, smoking and consuming alcohol during pregnancy can lead to health issues for the baby.

Apart from dietary changes, here are other tips to avoid heartburn during pregnancy:

  • Sit upright while eating.
  • Avoid eating too close to bedtime.
  • Don’t lie down or sleep right after eating.
  • When sleeping or lying down, elevate your head higher than the foot of the bed. Alternatively, place a pillow under your shoulders. This helps prevent stomach acid from rising into the chest.

Signs of Heartburn Requiring Medical Attention

If you’ve tried the methods above but the heartburn persists or worsens, it’s advisable for both parents to discuss with a healthcare provider to receive appropriate advice.

A doctor can prescribe safe medications for pregnant mothers. You should also contact a doctor if experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Experiencing heartburn that disrupts sleep at night.
  • Having difficulty swallowing.
  • Vomiting blood.
  • Experiencing black stools.
  • Experiencing weight loss.

Heartburn can have symptoms similar to a heart attack. If you’ve never experienced heartburn before and feel chest pain, promptly contact a doctor or head to the nearest emergency unit.

In conclusion, to prevent or alleviate heartburn symptoms, consider steps such as eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding spicy or fried foods. Some yogurt or milk products can also help reduce symptoms. Before using antacids, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to ensure the safest option during pregnancy.

That wraps up the explanation about the causes of heartburn in pregnant mothers and ways to prevent it. If you’d like to read more information about pregnancy programs and infertility issues, you can find other articles on Bocah Indonesia.

Source:

  • American Pregnancy Association. Heartburn During Pregnancy. Diakses 2023. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/heartburn-during-pregnancy-982/
  • March of Dimes. Common Discomforts of Pregnancy. Diakses 2023. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/common-discomforts-of-pregnancy.aspx
  • NHS. Indigestion and Heartburn in Pregnancy. Diakses 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/indigestion-and-heartburn/
  • Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Pregnancy: Body Changes and Discomforts. Diakses 2023. https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/body-changes-and-discomforts
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