Along with the glow of being pregnant comes weight gain, back pain, constant trips to the bathroom, itchy skin, fatigue, sweating and sleeplessness. If that weren’t enough, add heartburn to the list. Yes, that fiery sensation known as heartburn, where the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle responsible for keeping stomach contents in their place, begins to relax or leak, allowing stomach acids to flow upward into the esophagus.
Many women experience heartburn for the first time during pregnancy because hormones relax the muscles in your digestive tract, including the valve in the esophagus. This allows stomach acids to more easily seep back up the esophagus, especially when you’re lying down. These certain hormones appear to weaken the LES, and the increasingly crowded abdomen encourages reflux. Heartburn can be worse in your second and third trimesters, when your growing uterus presses on your stomach — sometimes pushing food back up into the esophagus.
Even if you do experience heartburn during your pregnancy, there are things you can do to lessen or even eliminate it all together. Here are some tips on what to do:
Eat less, more often
Overeating exacerbates heartburn, so try eating five or six small meals a day instead of eating three large meals. That helps your body digest food better. When you’re pregnant, there’s less room for your stomach to expand, so smaller meals can stave off heartburn.
Eliminate Trigger Foods
Identify foods that give you heartburn and then eliminate them from your diet, which helps. Typical culprits are acidic foods, like citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee and carbonated beverages and alcohol. Hopefully, you’ve already eliminated that last one.
Fluids, fluids, fluids
Liquids are less likely to cause problems than solids since they go through the stomach more quickly. Soups, smoothies, yogurt, milkshakes, protein shakes and puddings are all good choices. Liquids with plenty of protein, such as milk and drinkable yogurt, are great options, too.
Don’t eat anything for at least three hours before bedtime. Plus, elevate the head of your bed by placing books under the legs and always try sleeping on your left side.
For most women during pregnancy, heartburn is temporary and mild. However, severe heartburn can be the sign of a more serious problem. Talk to your health care provider if it becomes severe and you notice unusual symptoms.
If heartburn is common to you even when you are not pregnant, contact Houston Heartburn for relief.