Pregnancy

Natural Heartburn Remedies During Pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant heartburn happens early and often.  The symptoms range from mild to severe and can make a pregnant woman very uncomfortable.  The hormone progesterone is responsible for a number of the common pregnancy complaints. Progesterone’s relaxing effect helps your body expand to accommodate the growing baby, but it causes more than just your uterus to relax.  Progesterone and its effects on the body are responsible either directly or indirectly for swollen feet and hands, morning sickness, constipation, more frequent bladder and urinary tract infections, shortness of breath, clumsiness, joint pain (especially in the hips) and heartburn.  The top of the stomach, where the esophagus joins in, is called the cardia.  A muscular sphincter, called the cardiac sphincter, keeps food, liquid and stomach acid from flowing back out of the stomach into the esophagus.  The backflow of stomach contents up the esophagus is called heartburn. Progesterone relaxes that sphincter, allowing stomach acid to travel back up the esophagus.  While complete relief comes only after delivery, once the progesterone levels return to normal, there are some steps a pregnant woman can take to help lessen the frequency and duration of heartburn episodes.

Here are some of the effective ways to manage heartburn:

  • Eat yogurt or drink a glass of milk.  Dairy products help to neutralize excess stomach acid. Plus, the extra calcium is always beneficial.
  • Eat more frequent, smaller meals. If the stomach is completely empty acid production may increase.  If the stomach is too full, the sphincter may not have the strength prevent backflow, especially later in pregnancy when the uterus is compressing the stomach and putting eve more pressure on the sphincter.
  • Avoid greasy, spicy, acidic and fatty foods.
  • Certain foods can cause further muscle relaxation, and would so make the sphincter less able to keep the stomach contents from escaping. Avoid peppermint, garlic and chocolate.
  • Try eating a small amount of honey.  Honey is, obviously, thick and sticky, and it does a great job coating your throat and esophagus.  While the honey won’t stop heartburn from happening, it can provide some relief from the pain and burning by preventing stomach acid from actually touching the walls of the esophagus.
  • Do not lie down immediately after eating.  The sphincter will have an even harder time doing its job if it is trying to work against gravity. Sleeping at an incline will also help stomach contents stay where they belong.
  • Talk to a doctor about over the counter antacids.  Some are safe for pregnancy, others are not.
  • If the heartburn symptoms are accompanied by a severe headache see your health care provider immediately.

 

Keep these tips in mind to help manage heartburn and to have the best pregnancy possible.

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