Heartburn During Pregnancy
An old wives tale states that if you have a lot of heartburn during pregnancy, your baby will be born with a lot of hair. Surprisingly, researchers in a small study at Johns Hopkins University found this to be true. While they do not think one causes the other, they do believe that both average to above average hair at birth and heartburn may be caused by the same factors.
Nevertheless, heartburn can be a painful fact of pregnancy. In fact, according to WebMD, more than half of all women report having heartburn during pregnancy. Heartburn is indigestion that leaks back up into the esophagus, causing burning and pain in the chest.
Causes of Heartburn During Pregnancy
One possible cause of heartburn during pregnancy is related to the different hormones that are released during this time. Progesterone, for example, relaxes muscles during pregnancy, but it may also be relaxing the muscle that keeps the valve between the stomach and esophagus shut. This leads to stomach acid refluxing back up into the esophagus, causing pain.
Another possible reason that pregnant women get heartburn is beaus of the expanding uterus. As the uterus gets bigger, it pushes up on the stomach, possibly pushing the acids up through the esophagus. Still, there are some ways to help relieve the pain.
Ways to Relieve Heartburn Pain
- Eat smaller meals. You should aim for six mini-meals instead of three regular ones. Since the stomach will have less in it at any one time, it will be less likely to cause heartburn.
- Eat slowly. Relax while eating and take one bite at a time. Eating too quickly can cause heartburn. Eating more slowly may also help you to avoid overeating.
- Stand or sit up straight after a meal. You might even want to take a short walk. The light exercise and the upright position will help keep the food in the stomach instead of the esophagus. Whatever you do, don’t lie down after a meal.
- Avoid trigger foods. Foods and drinks that are high in acid such as orange juice or spaghetti sauce are often the culprits for heartburn. In addition, spicy foods or fried foods can also be problematic. Some women notice other specific foods cause symptoms, and they should avoid those as well.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both of these substances can trigger excess acid to be produced. While generally avoided or strictly limited during pregnancy anyway, if they cause you problems, just stay away totally.
- Aim for foods that come in liquid form. Since liquids digest more quickly than solids, they are less likely to cause heartburn. You might want to try soups and smoothies, for example.
- Wear loose fitting clothing. Wearing anything tight, especially around the abdomen puts more pressure on an already cramped stomach which may cause it to leak acids into the esophagus. This becomes especially true during the third trimester.
- Try ginger. Ginger is known to soothe stomach woes such as nausea and vomiting and has even been shown to help with the burning feeling in your chest. Ginger ale, ginger candies, or ginger tea can all be consumed safely by pregnant women. Just make sure that the brands you choose have real ginger in them.
- Avoid nighttime heartburn by abstaining from all food and drink for at least three hours before bedtime. In addition, raise the head of your bed by putting blocks under the legs or using a wedge pillow. Also helpful may be to sleep on your left side. It helps because the stomach acid will have to travel uphill to get into the esophagus, and it is less likely to do so.
No matter whether your heartburn is mild or severe, just remember the baby growing inside. Once she is born, you will likely be free from heartburn symptoms. Nonetheless, the advice above may still be beneficial to your overall health.