You just finished the most amazing meal and are about to kick back and relax for the evening when suddenly your chest feels tight. Soon you’re experiencing an intense burning sensation in the center of your chest that leaves you breathless. To make matters worse the liquid magma begins making its way up your esophagus and splattering the back of your throat with fiery burps.
YOU’VE GOT HEARTBURN.
The old wives tales say if you have a lot of heartburn during pregnancy, your baby will have a full head of hair! We prefer a more logical approach to the whys of your discomfort. Heartburn hits pregnant women for a combination of reasons. Relaxin, a hormone meant to soften your tissues and prepare your body for the work of giving birth combined with progesterone causes the valve between your stomach and your esophagus to… relax. The hormones of pregnancy also slow the digestion of your food, meaning everything you eat spends more time in your stomach. Add a growing baby, quickly consuming the space where your organs once resided and you have indigestion and heartburn.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
Eat smaller, more frequent meals:
With less space in your stomach, eating smaller, more frequent meals can keep you from overfilling you stomach. Aiming for 6 small meals a day allows you to get proper nutrition without having to feel like your esophagus is on fire.
Slow your slurp: Taking your time when eating your meals can help you to avoid indigestion.
Just say no to trigger foods: Do your best to avoid spicy foods, citrus, peppermint, red wine, chocolate (I’m sorry), and tomato based sauces and soups.
Take advantage of gravity: Avoid lying down for at least an hour after eating. Some people find it helpful to sleep with an extra pillow to prevent late night heart burn symptoms.
WHEN HEART BURN ATTACKS
You can try eating a small amount of yogurt to get some relief or even drink a glass of milk. Tums, Rolaids and other calcium based antacids are generally safe during pregnancy. You should not take them at the same time as your prenatal vitamins. Calcium interferes with the absorption of iron. It’s a good idea to discuss any medication you are taking during pregnancy with your primary care provider.
We often recommend acupuncture for the ailments of pregnancy. Studies have shown that acupuncture may be useful to treat heartburn in pregnancy.
If your heartburn is frequent and disruptive, you should discuss it at your next appointment doctor or primary care provider to discuss your options.
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