Acid Reflux While Pregnant
Many women start experiencing heartburn (also known as acid indigestion or acid reflux) and other gastrointestinal discomforts in the second half of pregnancy, even if they've never had these problems before. Although heartburn is generally harmless (the sour, acidic taste in the mouth is gross, but not necessarily harmful), it can be quite uncomfortable.
Heartburn is a burning sensation that usually starts around the bottom of the breastbone and can extend all the way up to the lower throat. It's caused by some of the hormonal and physical changes your body goes through when you become pregnant.
While you're pregnant, the placenta produces a hormone called progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. It also affects the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, which is how gastric acids can seep back up resulting in the "burn" in heartburn.
A powerful hormone, progesterone also slows down the contractions of your esophagus and intestines, which reduces the speed of digestion. As your baby grows in your belly, he or she will start to squish everything in your abdominal cavity, causing stomach acids to slide back up into your esophagus.
- Avoid food and drinks that can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. This culprits are often: carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, acidic foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, mustard, and vinegar, processed meats, mint products, and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty foods.
- Instead of eating a couple big meals, eat several small meals through the day. Take your time eating!
- Avoid drinking a lot of fluids during a meal.
- Chew some gum after eating a meal. The saliva produced by chewing on a piece of gum can help neutralize the acid.
- Allow yourself at least 3 hours to digest before going to bed.
- Sleep propped up--elevating the upper body helps keep the stomach acid where it belongs and helps digestion along.
- Gain a reasonable amount of weight and stay within the guidelines your doctor gives you.
- Avoid wearing clothes that are tight around the waist.
- Bend at your knees instead of at the waist.
- Don't smoke!
- Take an over-the-counter antacid that contains magnesium or calcium. (But remember to check with your doc first!)