What causes heartburn during pregnancy and how to deal with it

Most pregnant women are suffering from heartburn at least a short while during their pregnancy. Here are a couple of advices which will help you deal with the issue once it appears!

If you haven’t suffered from heartburn before pregnancy, you should consider yourself to be lucky. It takes a bit more luck to stay away from it during pregnancy though. Stomach burning, unpleasant and sharp taste in mouth, sensation of burning in the throat or right below the chest bone are most common symptoms of heartburn in general. This is basically a symptom of gastro esophagus reflux disease (GERD), which means that a part of your stomach content is returning up into the esophagus, causing damage to the organ. It’s most intense in the second trimester of your pregnancy, with its attack lasting a couple of minutes or hours.

Hormonal changes

The main reason for heartburn during pregnancy is that the lower circular muscle on the esophagus weakens, allowing the matter to reflux back up. The weakening of the muscle is caused by the high level of progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone relaxes the smooth muscles in the body which is necessary in order to allow the uterus to expand. Besides uterus, other smooth muscles relax, including the lower circular esophagus muscle. Parallel with pregnancy, the uterus becomes larger, applies pressure onto the intestines, diaphragm and stomach which creates additional conditions for the reflux to happen and this is what causes the burning sensation.

There are many advices which can help you ease up on the heartburn, but not all of these are efficient. Even if they don’t help, you can rest assured knowing that the heartburn will go away in the last couple of weeks of your pregnancy. Besides, as your baby grows, it rotates and applies pressure to your bladder rather than your intestines.

Symptom reduction

Now that we understand the reasons behind heartburn in pregnancy, we can mention some of the factors which intensify the whole problem, reducing them to a minimum.

It is recommended to avoid spasmolytic preparations because these tend to further relax the musculature of the interior organs. So if something happens where you need to take these preparations, mention this issue to your doctor, allowing him to know your problem. He should be able to prescribe another medicine for you.

Having in mind that heartburn is intensified with pressure applied to the stomach; make sure not to put any additional stress by wearing tight clothes. Try not to bend unnecessarily and if you do need to bend, do it with the front part of your body; after meal try not to lie down because the transition into the horizontal position may improve the reflux.

There is a theory about heartburn indicating that it can happen as a reaction against food which potentially may have a damaging effect on the development of your baby. As farfetched as these sounds, it may be a problem since your stomach is excreting extra acids. You can use this perception as a valid defense against heartburn.

About the author

Rani Vyas

Rani Vyas

I'm a Medical Consultant Doctor with a keen interest in Medical bioinformatics and genuinely intriguing way of presenting boring medical knowledge in an enchanting and eye catching way.

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