Suffering From Acidity During Pregnancy Heres How You Can Manage It
Severe heartburn, acidity or uncomfortable feeling in the stomach occurring more than twice a week is medically termed as Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease . GERD is so common in pregnant women that according to studies almost 30 80% of pregnant women experience it. In fact, data suggests that the majority of pregnant women suffer from acidity in their third trimester even though in others it starts in the first trimester and gradually increases by their third trimester.
The first thing to do for any pregnant women suffering from acidity is to find a way to manage acidity without harming the baby. In order to do so, you need to know about acidity in the first place and what predisposes pregnant women to acidity? So let us learn about it and different ways to manage it safely during pregnancy.
What Causes Pregnancy Heartburn
Although the exact causes of this heartburn arent clear, most experts believe that pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, play a role.
Hormones cause relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, which is a tight circular band of muscle at the top of the stomach. This allows partially digested food and stomach acids to backflow, or reflux, into the esophagus. In addition, progesterone also slows the digestive process. This keeps food in the stomach longer.
The pregnancy itself the upward pressure of the growing uterus also may play a role.
These can make your heartburn worse:
- Most spicy, greasy or fatty foods
- Eating large meals or overeating
- Eating right before bedtime
- Smoking makes heartburn worse and is another reason to quit, especially while pregnant
Why Is Gerd Common During Pregnancy
GERD is practically a hallmark of pregnancy because changing hormone levels can affect the smooth muscles of the digestive tract. The hormone progesterone, producedin large amounts by the placenta, is a smooth muscle relaxant, according toHeather Johnson, MD, an OB-GYN at Reiter, Hill and Johnson of Advantia Health in the Washington, D.C. area. The relaxation of muscles in the digestive system also causes the lower esophageal sphincter muscles to relax. This allows stomach acid to more easily make its way into the esophagus. This, combined with the increasing size of the uterus in the second and third trimesters, pushes the stomach upward and intensifies uncomfortable symptoms. Hence, symptoms tend to worsen as the pregnancy progresses, Dr. Johnson notes.
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Can You Take Heartburn Medicine While Pregnant
Tums and Alka Seltzer are two brand-name, over-the-counter medicines frequently used to treat heartburn. Can you take Tums while pregnant? Can you take Alka Seltzer while pregnant? What should pregnant women know about heartburn and the medicines used to treat it? First and foremost, more than half of all pregnant women say they have symptoms of severe heartburn. Heartburn causes a burning pain in the chest and upper abdomen, and it can be a symptom of whats called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn seems to be most common during the second and third trimesters. Heartburn is a burning sensation which is caused by contents of the stomach that moves back upward. Severe heartburn can be incredibly uncomfortable and can create complications in severe circumstances. Medical professionals and researchers believe that heartburn is so common during pregnancy because of the changes in hormones that occur. Hormonal changes can affect digestive tract muscles and also food tolerance. Its also possible that hormones related to pregnancy can cause part of the stomach muscles to relax which allows more stomach acids to move into the esophagus. An enlarged uterus may also play a role by pushing stomach acids upward.
Do you or someone you love have questions or concerns about a pregnancy and dont know where to turn for help? Get support and answers at the American Pregnancy Association at 1-800-672-2296.
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Why Do Pregnant Women Get Heartburn
Pregnant women are more likely to get heartburn for a number of reasons.
First, during pregnancy, the hormone progesterone is secreted in higher amounts to support the pregnancy. Progesterone causes the valve that separates the food pipe from the stomach to relax, causing heartburn.
In addition, the growing uterus starts to put pressure on the stomach and other internal organs in later pregnancy. That pressure can also push food and stomach acid back into the food pipe.
Indigestion and heartburn are more likely in women who had heartburn before pregnancy and in those who have been pregnant before.
What Remedies Can Be Used
In most cases, heartburn improves with changes in diet and lifestyle, but if there is constant and severe heartburn, the doctor may prescribe tablets with magnesium or calcium, or even some over-the-counter antacids. However, it is important to remember that any medication or supplements should only be taken under doctors supervision to make sure it is safe for the babys development.
There are also some foods that relieve heartburn, such as raw, peeled potato or apple with the peel, a slice of bread, or a cream cracker as they help to push gastric content back into the stomach and thus stop heartburn.
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Herbal Supplements And Vitamins
Some alternative therapies have been found to safely and effectively alleviate some of the uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy but natural doesnt always mean these herbal supplements are safe. As with any over the counter medication, its important to talk with your doctor about every supplement or vitamin you take while pregnant.
Prenatal vitamins are also an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Multivitamins that include folic acid are safe and important before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy because they can help prevent some birth defects. Your doctor or midwife can advise you about which type of multivitamin with folic acid you should take. Medical providers sometimes prescribe extra folic acid or iron supplements, depending on your specific situation.
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Heartburn Symptoms During Pregnancy
Oh, pregnancy. Its such a beautiful experiencesave for the many unpleasant side-effects that come with the territory. And, yes, one common complaint among expectant moms is heartburn. More than half of women experience heartburn, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, during pregnancy, says Jill Purdie, MD, medical director and ob-gyn at Northside Womens Specialists in Georgia.
So what does heartburn feel like when youre pregnant? Theres no way to sugar-coat it: The feeling can be downright miserable. Heartburn feels most often like a burning sensation in the chest. The sensation can rise into the throat, accompanied by a bitter or sour taste in the back of the throat and mouth, says Kecia Gaither, MD, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine and director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. Besides that telltale fiery feeling, there are a few other symptoms you might experience. Some women also complain of the sensation of fullness in their upper abdomen or food not staying down well, and chronic dry cough may also be a symptom of heartburn, says Purdie.
Food And Drinks To Relieve Symptoms
- Ginger: cut up some pieces of ginger and make a tea of it. It is that simple. Also great if you are nauseous.
- Banana: easily digestible and also helps against heartburn. Do I hear banana pancakes?
- Fibers: think of wholemeal bread, oatmeal, and brown rice, but also of vegetables and fruit. Make tasty fruit salads for yourself. Or look at your partner
- Dairy: a glass of milk can work wonders. Or vanilla custard. But opinions differ on this too.
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Was It Something I Ate
You expected the swollen ankles, the morning sickness, and the burgeoning breasts. But this burning indigestion? Whered that come from?
As the name implies, heartburn feels like a fiery churning that starts behind your breastbone and travels up your esophagus, a tube connecting your throat to your stomach. These acids can even make it all the way up your throat.
In addition to feeling a burning sensation which can last several minutes to several hours you may also:
- have a sour taste in your mouth
- have a sore throat
- cough frequently
While the burrito you ate for dinner probably didnt help matters , the burning feeling you have has more to do with hormones than jalapenos.
45 percent of moms-to-be experience heartburn. And if you had heartburn before pregnancy, youre even more likely to have it during.
Heartburn can fire up, so to speak, at any point in pregnancy, but its most common during the second and third trimesters. Experts arent exactly sure what causes the smoldering, but they suspect its a three-pronged problem.
How Can I Prevent Heartburn During Pregnancy
They say prevention is the best medicine, so knowing common heartburn triggers can help you keep the acid at bay.
Of course, pregnancy itself is a major trigger for heartburn. As your growing uterus puts pressure on your stomach, this pushes stomach acid up your throat.
Those lovely hormones are no help either. They tend to relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus, which makes it easier for acid to make its way upward.
While theres nothing you can do to stop this entirely, there are a few things that can help prevent heartburn from flaring up during pregnancy:
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Does Heartburn During Pregnancy Mean My Baby Will Be Born With Hair
Suffering from severe heartburn? You may want to stock up on baby shampoo. Research has backed up the superstition that, on average, the more heartburn you have during pregnancy, the more likely your baby will be born with a full head of hair.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Slippery Elm Bark And Marshmallow Root
Some mamas find relief from mucilaginous herbs like slippery elm bark and marshmallow root. Due to their gummy consistency, they coat the intestines and soothe digestion. Be sure to use under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner and away from food and supplementsthey can interfere with nutrient absorption.
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Discuss H2 Blockers With Your Doctor
If an antacid isn’t working, it may be time to consider stronger medications.
Your first option will likely be an H2 blocker like Tagamet or Zantac. These drugs suppress stomach-acid production. All four H2 inhibitors on the market are now available without a prescription and considered to be safe during pregnancy. But talk to your doctor before taking them.
“They really work,” says Einarson. “You only have to take one or two a day.”
Pain Medications To Avoid
- NSAIDs including aspirin and ibuprofen: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a category that includes aspirin and ibuprofen. Studies have shown that women who take these drugs are more likely to give birth to babies with heart defects.
- Opioid pain medications such as codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine: Taking these medications is associated with severe birth defects affecting the brain, heart, and intestines, as well as withdrawal symptoms in newborns.
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What Is Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn doesnt really mean your heart is burning, but its a good description of the pain that begins behind the breastbone. It then moves upward to the neck and throat.
Officially, heartburn is known as gastroesophageal reflux, when acidic stomach juices or food and fluids back up into the esophagus. This is a hollow muscular tube between your mouth and your stomach.
Many women who have heartburn during pregnancy have never had that problem before. Unfortunately, if you had heartburn before becoming pregnant, youre more likely to have symptoms while you are pregnant.
Drink Some Lukewarm Ginger Tea
Hot tea is going to make your heartburn worse. One of the most popular herbal remedies for heartburn is lukewarm ginger tea. The ginger will help to settle the acid and re-balance the body, while the lukewarm water helps to counter against the heat of the heartburn. Get some GingerTea from here best for pregnancy.
Youll also find that the ginger tea balances an upset stomach. Its perfect throughout pregnancy, but do avoid drinking too much. There are concerns that too much can cause a miscarriage, but there are still studies looking into this.
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What Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy
However, it may be best to avoid magnesium during the last trimester of pregnancy. Magnesium could interfere with contractions during labor.
Most doctors recommend avoiding antacids that contain high levels of sodium. These antacids can lead to a buildup of fluid in the tissues.
You should also avoid any antacids that list aluminum on the label, as in aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate. These antacids can lead to constipation.
Finally, stay away from medications like Alka-Seltzer that may contain aspirin.
Ask your doctor for the best option. If you find yourself downing bottles of antacids, your heartburn may have progressed to gastroesophageal acid reflux disease . In that case, you may need a stronger treatment.
Heres What Other Mamas Have To Say About Relieving Heartburn During Pregnancy Naturally
I asked the moms on my Facebook page about their go-to natural remedies for pregnancy heartburn, and here is a sample of their responses.
- Apple cider vinegar, pickle juice, digestive enzymes! Katie Keepman
- An apple in the morning and right before bed. Elsa Silva
- It may sound weird, but I would either drink a little pickle juice, or eat a spoonful of peanut butter and within about 5-10 minutes was gone. Jessica Fields
- Baking soda in a little bit of water helped! Was it gross? A little, but still more enjoyable than heartburn! Erin M. Strand
- Maybe not the healthiest, but I always had ginger snaps next to my bed. I ate one or two at night for the heartburn and another one or two in the morning for the nausea. Sarah Gilroy
- I didnt treat my heartburn with any natural remedies, but did learn that bad heartburn can often present itself as nausea/morning sickness! Women who experiences bad nausea/MS should consider your remedies as well! Renee Jillian
- So far, wearing hazelwood helps some. Not perfect, but helps a little. Susan Miller
- I had heard to eat a few green olives. So when a pregnant friend was needing relief, I suggested her to try itand it works!!! Shawna Beaubien
- Liquid slippery elm works instantly! Ashly Burke-Goike
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When To Call The Doctor
If heartburn symptoms are associated withheadaches or swelling of the hands and face, talk with your provider beforetrying these remedies, especially if the symptoms are new and present in thelast trimester of pregnancy.
Heartburn-like paincan be a symptom of preeclampsia, or dangerously high bloodpressure during pregnancy. Preeclampsia puts mothers and babies at risk, andfurther evaluation may be necessary.
As mentioned,heartburn is very common in pregnancy. If your symptoms dont resolve with dietchanges or medication, let your provider know so you can find an effectivetreatment.
Safe Antacids During Pregnancy
If your symptoms dont improve after making these changes, talk to your OB/GYN or midwife about taking an over-the-counter antacid like Tums or Alka-Seltzer.
These antacids coat the lining of the esophagus and stomach, neutralize stomach acid, and are a quick and effective way to alleviate heartburn.
For approximately 30 to 50% of women, antacids will do the trick.
Antacids that are made up of aluminum, calcium, or magnesium hydroxides are considered safe during pregnancy.
However, high doses of antacids, and those that contain magnesium trisilicates and bicarbonate have been associated with certain risks, so its important to speak with your provider before you take an antacid.
Its unclear whether proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec and Prevacid, and histamine-2 receptor antagonists such as Pepcid and Zantac, for acid reflux are safe during pregnancy.
According to a January 2018 study in the journal Pediatrics, pregnant women who used PPIs and H2RAs were 45 percent more likely to have children with asthma than women who didnt use these medicines.
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Blood Pressure Medications To Avoid
- ACE inhibitors including Vasotec and Epaned , Prinivil, Zestril, and Qbrelis , and Altace : Have been shown to cause birth defects in all three trimesters of pregnancy.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers including Diovan and Cozaar : ARBs have been shown to increase the risk of fetal kidney damage or miscarriage.
- Renin inhibitors including Tekturna : Renin inhibitors are associated with severe, catastrophic birth defects. Women taking renin inhibitors should avoid becoming pregnant.
What Can Relieve Heartburn
For most people, things that help reduce acid production or prevent reux can help them avoid the discomfort of heartburn.
Here are tips that may help:
- Avoid classic spicy foods, as well as those with lots of fat or grease. Many people recommend avoiding citrus and chocolate, as well.
- Eat multiple, small meals spread throughout the day instead of three big meals.
- Try elevating the head of your bed by several inches and wait a while after eating before lying down.
- Some people find that its better to drink fluids between meals. Drinking with a meal can increase the amount of contents in the stomach.
If your symptoms do not improve after the above recommended diet and lifestyle changes are in place, talk with your health care provider about over-the-counter medicines.
Antacids are available as chewable tablets and liquids. They work by coating the lining of the esophagus and stomach and neutralizing stomach acid.
Heartburn medicines like H2-blockers or proton-pump inhibitors work by reducing the amount of acid made by your stomach.
All of these medications are safe in pregnancy, including in the first trimester. Many people with nausea and vomiting early in pregnancy can also experience benefits to acid suppression as well.
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