WHAT CAN I TAKE FOR HEARTBURN WHILE PREGNANT?
A lot of pregnant women complain of symptoms which turn out to be severe heartburn especially during the second and third trimesters. Heartburn also referred to as acid indigestion can be described as a burning sensation or an irritation of the esophagus that is caused by contents in the stomach going back into the esophagus.
This condition is very frustrating and uncomfortable and throws up several questions from a pregnant a woman such as what can i take for heartburn while pregnant, what can be done to make it go away and if whatever treatment taken will be safe for your baby.
SYMPTOMS OF HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY
Below are the following symptoms of heartburn in pregnant women
- You feel a burning sensation behind your breastbone
- Pain in the upper abdomen or chest
- Bouts of cough
- Stomach pains
- Having a sour and bitter taste in your mouth
- Sour throat and stomach
- You experience choking
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Producing a lot of saliva
- You will sound hoarse and be wheezing
CAUSES OF HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY
During pregnancy, heartburn may happen because of the changes in hormone levels. These changes can go on to affect the muscles of the digestive tract and this affects how pregnant women tolerate the foods they eat.
Pregnancy hormones can make the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) become relaxed. The LES is the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus. With the LES relaxed it allows acids in the stomach to move back into the esophagus.
Basically, what happens is that during digestion, food moves down from the esophagus (which is a tube between your mouth and lower stomach). The food moves through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and goes into the stomach.
The LES opens to allow food pass through and closes to stop acids in the stomach from coming back. When the LES gets so relaxed to the extent it allows stomach acid to come into the esophagus it can lead to a burning sensation, pain and discomfort around your chest making you experience heartburn.
When you are pregnant, hormone changes could allow muscles in the esophagus as well as the LES to relax regularly. This means that more acids could leak back up, especially when you have eating a large portion of food or when lying down.
Another reason is when the fetus grows during the second and third trimesters and the uterus increases to create space for the growth, the stomach comes under more pressure and this can lead to food and acid being forced back up into the esophagus.
Also gallstones can lead to heartburn occurring during pregnancy
In the later part of your pregnancy as your baby grows, pushing your intestine and stomach upwards it makes digestion happen slower and pushes acids up from your stomach to your esophagus
It is worth pointing out that being pregnant could increase your risk of experiencing heartburn. In the first trimester, muscles in the esophagus move food slowly into the stomach and during this period the stomach takes more time to empty. This allows your body to have more time to absorb more nutrients for the fetus but at the same time can also lead to heart burn happening.
WHEN WILL THE HEARTBURN STOP
When you are pregnant, heartburn is very common. It appears particularly during mid-pregnancy to late pregnancy. Many pregnant women start experiencing heartburn during the second half of pregnancy although it is quite possible to experience it before then. Some pregnant women experience heartburn as early as the first trimester while by the third trimester a lot more women experience it.
Pregnant women should not be concerned about dealing and coping with heartburn after giving birth to their baby as the symptoms go away after giving birth.
PREVENTION OF HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY
Relieving heartburn during pregnancy involves you making certain choices concerning your lifestyle and eating habits. Lifestyle habits that reduce heartburn occurring many times are the best and safest ways for both mother and baby.
Some of the changes you make in your lifestyle generally can help relieve and ease the pain of your heartburn. To reduce heartburn when pregnant without harming your baby you should try out the following:
- Do not eat three large square meals each day, instead break down your food and eat them in several small portions. When you eat less there is less time for acids to rise and increase in your stomach as food helps to neutralize stomach acid
- When eating you should not rush or be in a hurry, ensure you eat slowly and chew appropriately
- Avoid eating foods that are fried and spicy or other foods such as chocolate, tomato based contents, carbonated beverages and citrus fruits that can lead to the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and increase the chances of heartburn occurring
- While eating try not to drink much because drinking too much while eating may increase the chances of heartburn happening so drink water in between meals
- After eating do not lie down immediately
- Eat well ahead before going to bed as this can bring up heartburn so avoid having meals few hours before going to bed
- If you notice that your heartburn becomes worse and night ensure you do not eat or drink anything except water at least three hours before going to bed
- As stated earlier, do not lie down immediately after eating but stand up straight and upright for some time at least like one hour.
- After having meal you can go for a walk as this can help you digest your food better
- While lying down or sleeping ensure you place the head of your bed higher than the foot of your bed or you can keep your pillows beneath your shoulders to help prevent the acids in the stomach moving back up to your chest
- You can also get the assistance of your partner to raise the head of your mattress a little by a bit of inches like around 10 cm using cushions, throw pillows or towels rolled up together. Another option is to get a solid object like a wood or concrete block and place them under the head end of the bed. Ensure the bed is stable and safe before you climb in. The height will help keep the acids in your stomach in their place and assist in digestion. Avoid using pillows to lift your head or body up as this can put unnecessary pressure on your abdomen
- Try to maintain a healthy weight
- When you want to sleep, make sure you sleep on your left side. When you sleep on your right side you will place your stomach in a position that is higher than your esophagus which can cause heartburn.
- Make sure you wear appropriate clothes. Wear clothes that are loose fitting as tight fitting clothes can lead to increased pressure on your stomach and abdomen.
- Try your best not to get constipated
- If you smoke, make sure you stop. This is important because smoking makes the valve between your stomach and esophagus to relax which increases the chances of heartburn happening. Apart from this smoking is harmful for your baby
AVAILABLE TREATMENT FOR HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY
Over the counter antacid may give you some relief from heartburn. Before taking any antacid you should talk with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure the over the counter drug is okay and totally safe for you to use during your pregnancy taking your symptoms into consideration.
Antacids made up of magnesium and calcium carbonate are good choices but you may not be able to use magnesium during the last trimester because it could interfere with contractions when you are in labour.
There are some heartburn treatments and remedies that can give you stomach pains or upset your stomach. If you have had a talk with your doctor and you have been told that it is possible you could have pre- eclampsia or blood pressure then you will need to avoid those types of heartburn treatments. If you are not sure of what to take check with your doctor.
Antacids help to neutralize acids in the stomach and may come in handy when you need to treat symptoms of heartburn. If you to use them just make sure you do not exceed the dosage that has been recommended for you to use.
If you experience heartburn more during the night it may help you to take the antacid when you eat or before you go to bed to ease any pain or discomfort you may be feeling.
During your pregnancy, you may be taking iron tablets. If this is the case then you will need to take the antacid at a different time because antacids can affect the absorption of iron if they are taken within two hours of taking your iron tablets.
Most doctors advice and recommend pregnant women not to take antacids that have high levels of sodium because these can lead to surplus buildup of fluid in tissues.
You should also avoid antacids that contain aluminum on their label. An example is aluminum hydroxide as this can lead to you getting constipated.
WHEN YOU NEED TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR
- If you regularly take a lot of antacids then your heartburn may have advanced to gastroesophageal acid reflux disease (GERD). If this is the case you may need a stronger treatment.
- If at night you experience heartburn that keeps you up most of the night, comes back few hours after you have used the antacid, you have symptoms like coughing, losing weight, problem in swallowing or your stool is black you may have a more serious problem that requires more attention.
- If your heartburn pain moves to behind your breastbone to your throat
- If you feel pain in your tummy at the upper right side and you feel ill, you need to see the doctor
- If you feel intense pain situated at the top of your stomach beneath your ribs it could be a symptom of pre-eclampsia
NATURAL AND HOMEMADE REMEDIES FOR HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY
There are some natural and homemade remedies that pregnant women can take and use to ease their pain and discomfort from heartburn. If these remedies do not improve your condition you will need to seek medical attention. They include the following:
Almonds oil content is high and this soothes and neutralizes the acid level in your stomach. Try to eat a fair amount of almonds regularly
2. COCONUT WATER
Drink a lot of coconut water because it acts as a natural acid neutralizer which helps to soothe your heartburn and ease your pain and discomfort.
3. ALOE VERA
Aloe Vera is made up of anti-inflammatory contents which help to give relief from pain and discomfort caused by heartburn. You should make sure you get the Aloe Vera that that is meant for internal use but discuss with your doctor before you take it mixed with water or as juice
4. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Although it has a terrible taste, apple cider vinegar supports the digestive process by stimulating the acids in the stomach. It also allows acid forming foods to be neutralized as well as soothes the stomach lining. When you want to drink, take a table spoon of apple cider vinegar and mix it with 8 oz
Ginger is a natural remedy for heartburn as it is a natural antacid for heartburn. The great aspect of ginger is that you can take it in various forms. You can cook your ginger, eat it raw or take it in form of a drink like tea.
6. FENNEL SEEDS
Fennel seeds are herbal solution that helps to ease your pain and gives you relief due to it therapeutic nature. Though very good you should not take too much of it. Place two teaspoon of fennel seeds into a cup of hot boiling water then leave it to steep for 10 minutes. After this has been done you strain it and drink
7. MILK AND HONEY
Milk and honey is very good for easing pain from heartburn. Milk and honey has soothing content that makes digestion easier and better. Get a glass of warm milk and put one tablespoon of honey in it and mix it well and drink.