When it comes to pregnancy, there is no shortage of symptoms and changes to expect throughout the process. However, when you know what to expect, you can prepare yourself ahead of time! One of the most common symptoms is heartburn, with more than half of pregnant women reporting experiencing it, particularly during the third trimester. Here at Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, P.C. we’ve put together your guide on what you need to know about heartburn during pregnancy!
Knowing what to expect and having a plan in place to combat any pesky problems can make all the difference in your pregnancy. Keep reading to learn all about pregnancy heartburn, what causes it, and how to overcome it!
What is heartburn?
Heartburn doesn’t actually have anything to do with your heart. Officially known as gastroesophageal reflux, heartburn refers to the burning sensation in your chest. This happens because of acid reflux, which is the result of acid moving from your stomach up to your esophagus.
More than half of all pregnant women report experiencing heartburn during their pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. If you dealt with heartburn before pregnancy, it’s like that you’ll have symptoms during pregnancy as well. If you’ve never experienced it before, heartburn can be alarming. Always call your doctor if you’re experiencing chest pain and are unsure if it’s heartburn or something else.
What causes heartburn during pregnancy?
There are quite a few things that can cause heartburn during pregnancy, some that are hormonal and some that come from outside factors. These include:
- Changing hormone levels During pregnancy, your hormone levels will change which affects how your body reacts to and digests foods. It can even slow your digestion, causing bloating and heartburn.
- Uterus enlarging As your baby grows so does your uterus. This can crowd your stomach, pushing the acids upward into your esophagus. This is one reason heartburn gets worse in the later weeks of pregnancy.
- Esophageal sphincter relaxing Progesterone, better known as “the pregnancy hormone”, can cause the lower sphincter to relax, allowing stomach acid to move up the esophagus.
- Smoking Of course you should stop smoking when you find out you’re pregnant because of the harm it can cause your baby. However, knowing that heartburn is another consequence is just one more reason to quit!
- Eating spicy foods Certain foods can cause heartburn, since food digests slower or not as well overall.
How to prevent heartburn
Knowing how common heartburn during pregnancy is can be discouraging, however, there are some steps you can take to help prevent it!
Making some changes to your diet and eating habits can go a long way in preventing heartburn. Instead of eating three large meals, try eating several smaller meals throughout the day. This helps reduce the work your digestive tract has to do and gives your body time to process. Try to avoid any spicy, fried, and fatty foods, as well as citrus fruits and juices.
You should try to eat slower than usual, as well as avoid drinking during meals, and only drink in between meals instead.
Pay attention to your posture when you’re eating – always sit up straight and avoid laying down immediately after finishing meals. You should also avoid eating late at night and try to elevate your shoulders, neck, and head when you go to sleep.
Treating heartburn during pregnancy
Unfortunately, heartburn is one of those symptoms that can occur even when you take all the right steps to avoid it. When this happens, there are some doctor-approved at-home and over-the-counter options for relief. These include:
- Eating yogurt or drinking milk
- Nonprescription heartburn relievers (Tums, Maalox, etc.)
- H-2 blockers
As with any medication, always talk to your doctor before using any of the listed solutions.
Is heartburn something I should be worried about?
The good news is that heartburn symptoms are usually mild and manageable! Unless you’ve been dealing with heartburn since before pregnancy, it will typically go away when your baby is born.
If you notice any of the following symptoms accompanying your heartburn, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.
- Heartburn that wakes you up at night
- Heartburn that is severe with no relief
- You have trouble swallowing
- Spit up blood
- Blood in your stool/black stool
Prepare yourself for pregnancy with MOGA
When you’re expecting a child, there are countless things to prepare for. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself, too, and prepare yourself for the changes your body will face during the course of your pregnancy. Having what you need to know about heartburn during pregnancy can help you prepare for this common symptom before it becomes a real problem.
If you’re interested in learning more about pregnancy, prenatal care, or are looking for a new care provider, our team would be happy to chat! Visit https://mogamd.com/ to schedule an appointment with our offices in East Memphis, Germantown, Wolfchase, or Desoto. Let’s prepare you for the best possible pregnancy experience!