Heartburn During Pregnancy
There’s nothing like pregnancy to make you feel the burn. And no, we’re not talking treadmill workouts—heartburn is a common (and uncomfortable) symptom of pregnancy. Find out what’s behind that burning sensation and how you can ease your heartburn.
So what does heartburn feel like in pregnancy? Heartburn happens when acid bubbles up from your gut and irritates your esophageal lining, causing discomfort or pain. You’ll have a burning feeling in your chest, behind your breastbone. The sensation might start in your stomach and work its way up. It also might get worse when you lie down or bend over.
Heartburn is usually diagnosed based on your symptoms. If it’s severe or chronic, your doctor may want to see if you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Unfortunately, it’s extremely common to experience heartburn during pregnancy. And while morning sickness seems to get all the hype, many women find heartburn just as unpleasant a pregnancy symptom. In early pregnancy, heartburn is caused by the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the uterine muscles to fit your growing baby–and also relaxes the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. In the final months of pregnancy, baby squashes your digestive organs and causes heartburn. The good news? Heartburn won’t affect baby.
Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you’ll probably still feel the burn sometimes. Talk to your OB about what medications you can safely take for relief (she’ll probably recommend an antacid like Tums, or even something stronger for especially severe pain).
You can reduce the risk and severity of heartburn by avoiding triggers like chocolate, coffee, tea, citrus, tomato sauces, spicy stuff and fried foods. It also helps to sleep with your head slightly elevated and to consume minimal fluids with meals—just be sure to drink plenty of water an hour before and an hour after meals so you don’t get dehydrated.
“This will sound odd, but I’ve found something that works: Put two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (the raw, unfiltered kind like Bragg makes) into six ounces of water, and drink it. It’s not so bad to drink, and it works! Something about the enzymes in the apple cider kills the acid and the burning. I’ve drank it by itself when I’ve been in the midst of a reflux episode and also drank it while eating a meal I thought might give me reflux.”
“I took Tums for a while, but they stopped working. My doctor told me to get Prilosec…since I started taking that, I haven’t felt heartburn at all—it’s amazing!”
“I avoid heavy, spicy, fatty foods and big meals. I don’t eat too much at night either.”
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