How to treat heartburn during pregnancy
Women have always experienced the discomfort of heartburn during pregnancy. In fact, one study reported that approximately 45% of women suffer from this condition.
So what is heartburn?
Heartburn can be defined as a burning sensation in the gullet or esophagus. It is also called indigestion.
During pregnancy, indigestion or heartburn happens when the contents of the stomach come up to the esophagus (or gullet). When there is a reflux of the stomach’s contents, the pregnant woman feels an irritating, burning sensation in her pharynx and her throat.
Causes of heartburn during pregnancy
Changing hormone levels can cause of heartburn during pregnancy. As the hormones fluctuate, the digestive tract tries to adjust. All of these changes affect the way various foods and drinks are processed. This explains why pregnant women throw up whenever they eat certain foods.
2. Slow digestion
Pregnancy hormones relax the muscles in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and consequently, slow down the movement of food through the digestive system. Bloating and heartburn can happen because of this.
Though these symptoms might cause some pain and discomfort, they will support the baby’s growth and development. Slow digestion gives your body enough time to adjust the nutrient into the bloodstream, through the placenta and into the baby’s body.
How to prevent heartburn during pregnancy
You can’t totally get rid of heartburn during pregnancy. However, you can reduce the intensity of heartburn by doing the following:
• Stay away from foods that cause heartburn like caffeine, fried foods, spicy meals, processed meats, mint, citrus fruits, and fizzy drinks
• Avoid overeating in one sitting
• Eat small portions of food throughout the day
• Don’t eat too fast
• Drink water thirty minutes before or after meals; drinking too much water while eating can increase the chances of heartburn
• Avoid lying down immediately after meals
• Support your shoulders with a high, orthopedic pillow
• Avoid tight clothes; you can find trendy, comfortable maternity dresses that make you look elegant
• Avoid smoking and also stay away from people who smoke
• Avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy; excess weight can affect your digestive tract and increase the chances of getting heartburn
• Try to reduce stress since stress can trigger indigestion in the gastrointestinal tract
Home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy
Pregnancy-induced heartburn can be treated at home using simple foods and beverages that are available in the market. Medical experts recommend medicines only as a last resort. Here is a list of natural remedies for heartburn during pregnancy:
If you live in Nigeria or any other West African country, you will only succeed in finding only dried almond nuts in big supermarkets. Often, these almonds are sold alongside other nuts like cashew nuts and peanuts.
After each small meal, chew a handful of almonds. They neutralize stomach acids and provide instant relief from heartburn.
2. Sugar-free bubblegum
Bubblegum is one of the most effective remedies for heartburn. Chewing sugar-free gum thirty minutes after each meal can promote saliva production. This healthy saliva can reduce the acidity in your stomach.
Avoid sugary bubblegum as they may contain artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners, if taken excessively, can cause gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain and other sugar-related illnesses. Always settle for sugar-free gum.
Mint-flavored gum can improve oral hygiene, but they have been reported to worsen heartburn. Mint happens to increase stomach acidity.
3. Almond milk
Almond milk is a healthy alternative to dairy milk. It isn’t fattening and most importantly, it soothes and treats heartburn.
Drink a small glass of almond milk after every meal and your heartburn will ease off. If you have a sweet tooth, you can add a teaspoonful of honey to your warm almond milk.
A warm glass of almond milk is tasty and rich in calcium. Drink after meals and your bones will thank you; your baby will thank you, and of course, you’ll say goodbye to heartburn.
Medications for heartburn
If for some reason, the home remedies fail to ease the heartburn during pregnancy, you can ask your gynecologist to prescribe something for you. However, you should know that heartburn medications have been linked to premature death.
It is not really a good idea to take heartburn medications during pregnancy, especially if your physician has warned you against taking any. Every pregnancy is different. Some medications can cause complications for the unborn baby and you, the mum.
If the heartburn continues, contact your gynecologist and share your concerns. Only a gynecologist will know what heartburn medications are safe for you and your baby.
Overall, you should be patient. The heartburn, like more pregnancy-induced problems, will go away once you have your baby.