You’re on your last spoonful of lunch when you suddenly feel a burning pain in your upper abdomen! Ouch! Talk about a bad case of heartburn! Let me share with you a bit more about heartburn during pregnancy.
Heartburn is a usual complaint in pregnancy. Many moms-to-be experience the first bouts of heartburn around the second trimester (read more about it in my post – Pregnancy Second Trimester Symptoms – What To Expect). At this time, baby is growing bigger and is pressing upward on the stomach and intestines. Additionally, the hormone progesterone slows down digestion and relaxes the valve that keeps stomach contents down. Relaxation of this valve causes backflow of acidic stomach contents into the esophagus, causing the searing pain we know as heartburn.
How Avoid Heartburn During Pregnancy:
Eat small, frequent meals
This is by far the most valuable thing you can do to avoid heartburn. Eating a large meal can put more pressure on your abdomen and trigger backflow of food. Instead of the usual three square meals a day, aim for about five to six small meals. This makes it easier on the stomach. Plus, eating often leaves a lesser chance for acid to build-up in your stomach. And oh, don’t forget to eat slowly as well.
Say no to trigger foods
Certain foods can set off that searing pain in your stomach. Some of the common culprits include spicy foods, coffee, citrus fruits, acidic foods, greasy foods, and carbonated beverages. Cut out these foods from your diet and replace them with tummy-safe foods that are easier to digest.
Stay upright after meals
Lying down, bending over, or a slumped posture can trigger heartburn during pregnancy or make it worse. Sit up straight after meals and avoid physical activities that may involve bending over. After eating, sit up straight and rest a while. Try to stay upright for at least 1-2 hours after meals to make sure the food has settled or emptied into the intestines.
Heed these nighttime tips
If heartburn is eating you at night, avoid taking in any food at least three hours before bedtime. You can also ask your partner to elevate the head of your bed by raising the head-end of the mattress by a few inches. You cana also place hard objects like books or concrete blocks under the legs of the bed. Don’t use pillows to prop yourself up because this can put unwanted pressure on your belly. You can also lie on your left to help keep food from tarveling upward.
Choose fluids over other foods
Foods that are more fluid are preferable for avoiding episodes of heartburn. Such foods move through the stomack moe quickly, having less chance to go back up. Smoothies, yogurt, soups, protein shakes and milkshakes are great choices and can be infused with healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients as well!
Get an over-the-counter medication for heartburn
If all else fails, or if you simply want that searing pain to stop right now, you can opt to take an antacid medication. Antacids work to neutralize the buildup of stomach acids, thus relieving acid-related pain felt during heartburn. Safe antacids for pregnant women are those that are calcium-based. Aluminum-based antacids are also effective, though these can add to constipation felt during pregnancy. You can also ask your doctor about other acid-suppressing alternatives like ranitidine and omeprazole. Stay away from sodium-based antacids as they can induce or aggravate swelling due to water retention.