Heartburn During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes And Treatments

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The discomfort of heartburn during pregnancy is common. It is estimated that between 30 and 80 percent of women experience symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux while pregnant. During pregnancy, the condition can start any time, but it is more prevalent during the third and fourth trimesters.

We’ve got all the information you need about heartburn symptoms, causes, and complications in pregnancy, along with some tips to deal with it.

Heartburn During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes And Treatments

About Heartburn

Your heart isn’t touched by it, even if it burns. The esophagus (the tube going from the back of your mouth to your stomach), where heartburn occurs, is a result of food and acid moving backward from the stomach.

Since your stomach is made up of cells that contain acid and enzymes that break down food, having acid in your stomach does not hurt. Nevertheless, the lining of the stomach is more sensitive than that of the esophagus. The result is irritation in the esophagus that feels like a burning sensation when the stomach contents back up into it. Despite being in the digestive system (GI tract), the spot of burning feels close to the heart, giving it the name “heartburn.” It’s also sometimes known as acid reflux or indigestion.

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Symptoms Of Heartburn During Pregnancy

A burning sensation in your chest normally occurs after a meal, and it is often worse at night or when you are sleeping. These symptoms frequently occur when refluxed acid reaches the back of the throat and reaches the esophagus and causes backflow into the esophagus:

  • Pain behind your breastbone
  • A burning sensation in your chest or throat
  • Bad, sour, or acidic breath.

If you suffer from heartburn, you can feel its effects for a few minutes or several hours. Your doctor can help you determine if you’re experiencing heartburn by discussing specific symptoms.

Causes Of Heartburn During Pregnancy

The digestive system changes during pregnancy, including a variety of other parts of the body. Progesterone and relaxin are produced in greater quantities when you’re expecting a baby.

Relaxin calms and relaxes your smooth muscles after you eat via progesterone. sphincter, or smooth muscle that circles the bottom of the esophagus to keep stomach acids and food in it.

This prolonged digestion and backup of food into the esophagus are due to these hormones. A growing uterus and growing baby also begin to press on your stomach as the weeks progress. Pressure from this can push the contents of the stomach up into the esophagus, causing heartburn as well.

During pregnancy, you may experience heartburn for the same reason you do if you aren’t pregnant. In addition to heartburn, other factors contribute to it:

  • Eating too much
  • Spicy foods
  • High-fat foods and processed meats
  • Fruit juices and citrus Fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Drinks with caffeine, chocolate, and carbonation
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Certain medications
  • Stress

Complications

It can interfere with sleep and cause discomfort, but heartburn is usually not dangerous. Pregnant women rarely experience serious heartburn complications.

 When it is accompanied by other factors, heartburn may become a concern. You and your baby will be monitored more closely by your doctor if:

  • You are sick with a sore throat
  • When swallowing becomes painful or difficult
  • You are experiencing chest pain
  • You feel as if something is stuck in your throat
  • Hoarseness or laryngitis affects your voice
  • It is difficult to breathe or you cough
  • You lose weight
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)

A few tips for coping with heartburn during pregnancy

Heartburn can be prevented or eased by some measures you can take once it occurs. Heartburn during pregnancy can be dealt with in several ways.

  • Watch the weight gain: Make sure that you follow your physician’s weight gain guidelines. You can suffer from heartburn if you gain too much weight.
  • Stay away from foods that cause discomfort: Fried, spicy, or gassy foods should be avoided as much as possible if you have heartburn after eating them. For more info read our article How to diet in pregnancy.
  • Eat smaller meals: Consume smaller portions more often to avoid having three large meals per day. When you leave the house, you can also pack healthy snacks or small meals so you don’t miss a meal. In this regard we recommend you to read our article: Nutrition During Pregnancy 
  • Drink enough fluids: Water or other healthy beverages should comprise eight to ten glasses of 8 oz a day, but sugary drinks and caffeine should be limited.
  • Avoid restrictive clothing: Your stomach can be pressured by clothing that is tight around your waist. For more about this topic please read our article: Is It Advisable To Wear a Maternity Bra?
  • Do not lay down or go to bed immediately after eating: If you lie down on a full stomach, the food is more likely to back up. Let your body digest by sitting up for a few minutes.
  • Use gravity to your advantage: You can elevate your head and keep your stomach full by sleeping with an extra pillow or a wedge.
  • Bend down with your knees: Your stomach can be pressurized if you bend over at the waist and your body is in a position where the stomach contents can begin to ascend into your esophagus. You will be able to keep the food down if you keep your body upright and bend at the knees.
  • Pay attention to your posture: Your esophagus and stomach will be at risk for pressure if you slouch and bend over, so try to sit up straight and walk with your shoulders back to promote esophageal health.
  • Reduce stress and get enough rest: Heartburn can worsen when you’re stressed or fatigued. If you have time, try to rest and relax by meditating, mildly exercising, listening to music, or through other methods. Yoga during pregnancy is the best exercise to stay away from stress.
  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol: Smoking and drinking alcohol is not only bad for heartburn but also bad for your baby during pregnancy. So avoid smoking and alcohol.
  • Try an alternative treatment: The use of acupuncture during pregnancy is thought to provide relief from heartburn.
  • Ask your doctor about taking a safe antacid: Consult your doctor if you’re frequently experiencing heartburn. A prescription or recommendation can be given to you by her. So that you have it with you whenever you need it, you can even put it in your purse.

Medication During Pregnancy To Avoid Heartburn

It may be necessary to seek out additional treatment options when natural options aren’t enough to treat heartburn. Call the office if you can’t wait for relief or speak to your doctor at your next prenatal appointment. Antacids are available over the counter and prescription medications are also available. You can request or get a prescription from your health care provider if you experience heartburn or reflux.

During pregnancy, the following products are recommended to relieve heartburn:

Calcium Carbonate

Calcium carbonate-containing antacids neutralize acids instantly when they are consumed.

You can also get extra calcium from calcium antacids. Calcium carbonate comes in the following brands:

Magnesium Hydroxide and Aluminum Hydroxide

As a result of combining magnesium hydroxide with aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide is effective in neutralizing stomach acid and relieving heartburn. Taken during pregnancy, this type of medication is considered safe, including brands such as:

  • Maalox
  • Mylanta

Heartburn can also be treated with the following medicines:

H2 Blockers

An H2 receptor antagonist blocks histamine in the body and causes less stomach acid production. Pregnancy is not considered a risk with the drugs in this category. They can be obtained with or without a prescription from your physician. You should still consult your doctor before deciding to use OTC medications. The H2 blocker is:

  • Tagamet (cimetidine)
  • Zantac (ranitidine)
  • Pepcid (famotidine)

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI)

They prevent the stomach from producing acid by blocking the proton pumps. Pregnant women should avoid taking PPIs long-term because they may cause B vitamin deficiencies and calcium insufficiency. It is possible for your doctor to advise you on the best PPI and the dose to take, or written prescriptions can also be supplied. PPIs are as follows:

  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)

Other

The drug sucralfate (Carafate) coats the stomach and esophagus to protect them against acid. Since aluminum is not well absorbed by the GI tract, its use is considered safe when pregnant.

Avoid these acid-reducing medicines

It is always recommended to read the labels of over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, and home remedies while you are pregnant and to consult your doctor before using them. The truth is that some things seem safe even though they aren’t. Here are some conventional heartburn treatments that you shouldn’t use during pregnancy:

  • Alka-Seltzer
  • Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate (Bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Bicarbonate of Soda (sodium bicarbonate, baking soda)
  • Products containing aspirin

A Word From KidsRush

Pregnancy is not likely to be pain-free, and you may suffer from heartburn throughout. It may cause you to feel irritated or leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it usually doesn’t harm you. When it occurs, you can take steps to avoid it and then deal with it when it does. As long as you have your doctor’s advice and assistance, you will be fine. If you’ve been craving a particular meal, and you’re willing to risk occasional indigestion or heartburn to indulge, that’s fine, too.   As your hormone levels return to what they were before the pregnancy, you should experience no more heartburn after the delivery of your child.


References

[1]. A prospective longitudinal cohort study: evolution of GERD symptoms during the course of pregnancy; BMC

[2]. Management of gastroesophageal reflux disease in adults: a pharmacist’s perspective; DovePress

[3]. Hormonal influence on gastrointestinal reflux during pregnancy; PubMed

[4]. Food and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Author(s): Teodora Surdea-Blaga, Dana E. Negrutiu, Mariana Palage, Dan L. Dumitrascu

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