Understanding Heartburn During Pregnancy
Pregnant women often experience heartburn and indigestion due to hormonal changes that relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). As the baby grows, there is a pressure on the abdomen and more frequently, food is pushed back up into the esophagus and causes an uncomfortable burning sensation.
- Eat smaller and more frequent meals: Eating smaller portions several times throughout the day rather than three large meals prevents heartburn.
- Avoid acidic, spicy and fatty foods: Consuming foods high in acid and fat can increase heartburn symptoms. Additionally, drinking large amounts of fluids with meals can contribute to heartburn.
- Do not lie down after eating: Research has shown that lying down within two to three hours after eating slightly increases the risk of acid reflux.
- Elevate your bed: Placing wood or cement blocks under the bed posts elevates the head of the bed and helps reduce acid reflux.
Medications to Relieve Heartburn
- Antacids: Antacids neutralize stomach acid and reduce discomfort such as Maalox and Mylanta.
- H2-Blockers: These medications prevent stomach acid production, such as Zantac, Pepcid and Tagamet.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors: These drugs reduce the production of stomach acid, such as Prilosec and Nexium.
It is always important to speak with your physician about which medications are best for you and your baby.
Alternative Remedies to Help Relieve Heartburn
- Drinking a glass of warm milk before bed helps reduce stomach acid.
- Mixing equal parts apple cider vinegar, honey and warm water can help alleviate symptoms.
- Ginger root is an old folk remedy that helps keep the sphincter at the top of stomach closed.
- Munch on fennel seeds and unsalted almonds throughout the day.
When to See a Doctor
If the heartburn symptoms are persistent and do not respond to over-the-counter medications, speak with your physician who will suggest other alternatives to help alleviate discomfort.
Heartburn does not usually cause any harm to your baby, however if nausea and vomiting are extreme and food is not kept down for more than one day, it is important to seek medical attention urgently as this can be caused by a serious infection.
Relieving heartburn during pregnancy can be done naturally, however speaking with a physician is highly recommended to ensure the best health outcomes for you and your baby.
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