Heartburn During Pregnancy, Concerns 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.