Heartburn is the burning sensation you feel in the centre of the chest. This is also called as acid indigestion and gastro esophageal reflux. This burning sensation occurs because of indigestion in the stomach. The acids present in the stomach comes back (reflux) to the esophagus, causing burning sensation and irritation. The acids sometimes even make up to the throat, causing irritation. This type of burning sensation has nothing to do with the functioning of the heart in almost all cases and is more due to the expansion of the abdomen and the resulting shift in organs during pregnancy.
Heartburn is a common complaint during pregnancy, and it involves indigestion and due to its burning sensation in the centre of the chest. Most of the women experience heartburn during their pregnancy. As per a study, up to 45 per cent of pregnant women experience heartburns. This heartburn is very common during the second and third trimesters. Even though it is harmless, heartburn during pregnancy can be extremely discomforting and cause problems. Experts say that heartburn is caused by the hormonal and physical changes in the body. This problem arises during pregnancy, and most usually are solved after the delivery.
Causes of Heartburn:
During normal digestion, food travel down the oesophagus (the tube which connects your mouth and the stomach), through a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and into the stomach. This LES is part of the doorway between your esophagus and stomach. It opens to allow food through and closes to stop stomach acids from coming up. When you have heartburn or acid reflux, the LES relaxes enough to allow stomach acid to rise to the esophagus. This causes pain and burns in the chest area.
During pregnancy, an important hormone named progesterone, also called as pregnancy hormone is released in ample amount. This hormone nurtures the womb of the pregnant woman and the baby present inside it. Apart from this, this hormone acts as a muscle relaxant. Due to this, the LES relaxes more frequently as a result, more acids may seep back up. Due to this, the acid from the stomach enters the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the chest area.
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Heartburn is very common in pregnant women during their second and third trimester because of the growing uterus. It puts pressure on the stomach and the intestines. This pressure causes the pushing back of food contents to the food pipe, causing heartburn and indigestion. There can be several other reasons for the heartburn like including spicy or fatty food in your diet and not doing required physical exercises to have proper digestion and get rid of heartburn.
Heartburn Relief During Pregnancy:
Heartburn during pregnancy can be a huge discomfort for the pregnant woman and may lead to other problems. Thus, various measures should be adopted to avoid heartburn during pregnancy.
- Avoid eating big meals and instead of it have small meals at regular intervals for better digestion. Chew properly while eating so that the food gets digested properly.
- After your meals have chewing gum, the chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands wherein it produces saliva. This saliva helps neutralize the acid in the food pipe.
- Avoid food and drinks that cause gastrointestinal distress. Such beverages include alcohol, carbonated drinks, caffeine, chocolate or other fruits that are rich in citric acid and others like fatty foods.
- It is recommended to eat dinner 2-3 hours before you sleep. This is because the food gets digested well and you can have a healthy sleep.
- Avoid drinking large quantity water or fluids during meals instead have lots of fluid and water between the gaps of meals.
- Sleep with several pillows or a wedge on the upper portion of the body. Elevating the upper part of your body helps to keep the acid produced at the right place and also helps digest the food.
- Always try to sleep on the left side of your body so that the acid reflux does not come to the esophagus.
- Avoid wearing any tight-fitting clothes around your waist and belly portion. Always wear loose-fitting clothes during pregnancy.
- Smoking increases the acidity inside the stomach and acidity, in turn, causes the heartburn. Hence avoid smoking.
- Antacids help in relieving heartburn. Consult your doctor before taking any antacid pills.
- A short leisure walk after your meals helps in proper digestion.
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Some of The Home Remedies to Follow are:
- Avoid raw onions, garlic.
- Limit your intake of carbonated beverages.
- Don’t drink too much citrus juice.
- Consider eating less chocolate.
- Always try to sleep on the left side.
Meal Plan to Relieve Heart Burn During Pregnancy:
- 1 cup of oatmeal with nonfat milk and 1 apple.
- 1 cup of yogurt and fruit.
- ½ peanut butter and jelly sandwich and 1 cup of vegetable soup.
- 1 handful of whole-grain crackers and 1 ounce of your favourite hard cheese.
- 2 ounces of chicken, ½ cup of mashed sweet potatoes and ½ cup of cottage cheese with fruit.
Heartburn during pregnancy is frequent, but it doesn’t happen to every woman, and the severity of the burning sensation varies from woman to woman. Follow the above-said remedies to cure the problem of heartburn, but if the problem still persists immediately consult your gynaecologist to seek proper medication.
To conclude, heartburn during pregnancy is a common phenomenon and should not be worried much about. Some basic lifestyle changes, and with above said home remedies, heartburn during pregnancy can be eased. However, if the problem still persists, heartburn and acid reflux during pregnancy should be treated, as recent studies report that symptoms of GERD have been associated with increased severity of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. Antacids, H2RAs, and PPIs are safe for use in pregnancy, so if life-style modifications fail to manage GERD symptoms, these medications can be added to the antiemetic treatment regimen.
See More: Problems During Pregnancy
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Q1. Is it safe to use drugs for heartburn during pregnancy?
Ans: It all depends on the type of drug you use. Your doctor can advice better about the medicines to take for heartburn during pregnancy. One thing for sure is that do not self medicate. Keep your doctor informed about the drugs you intake.
Q2. Is heartburn an early pregnancy sign?
Ans: No, heartburn is not at all a pregnancy sign. Nausea, vomiting, fatigue are some of the first signs of pregnancy.
Q3. Can heartburn during pregnancy harm the baby?
Ans: No, heartburn does not harm the baby. Heartburn is one of the common things that happen during pregnancy.
Q4. Does heartburn during pregnancy cause a heart attack?
Ans: Heartburn during pregnancy has nothing to do with the functioning of the heart. Heartburn is caused by the acid reflux from the stomach to the esophagus, causing the burning sensation.
The information in this article is solely for knowledge purpose and not intended to be construed as professional medical advice and the said homemade remedies should not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis and treatment. Also, do not self medicate? If you have any queries regarding heartburn during pregnancy, make sure to consult your physician and make an informed decision.