Heartburn During Pregnancy: Symptoms and Relief Tips
Among many small things that bother time and again during pregnancy, heartburn is one of the most common ones. It causes uncomfortable burning sensation in the left side of the chest inside chest bones that usually occurs after meal and lasts for minutes to hours. Although heartburn is not very severe during pregnancy, it is definitely among the most unpleasant feelings you’ll experience.
Most of the times, women start feel heartburn during the early stages of pregnancy and this uncomfortable feeling can leave you baffled. It’s more prominent during the second trimester, but it can start sooner and remain till delivery in some women. More than half of the expectant mothers experience heartburn for almost their whole pregnancy period.
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?
There may be many causes that apply for heartburn but the basic concept is; food half-digested which is acidic in nature that travel back to esophagus. This causes the feeling of acidic sensation in your chest which can also expand all the way from throat to your rectal area. Heartburn is mostly because of this acidity.
During pregnancy, specially in the 20th week or later, your uterus swells or expands and pushes your stomach up against diaphragm and because of the acidic reflux, a burning sensation is felt in the upper part of the body.
Similarly, the changing hormonal levels in pregnant women that acts as relaxant for baby’s muscle growth also acts on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). If the acid moves up in this area from the stomach, heartburn is experienced.
Apart from these, there are different foods and body positions that can trigger heartburn.
Some citrus foods, fatty foods, chocolate, and drinks like coffee, soda, alcohol and smoking are a few of those that can cause heart burn.
Also, if you’ve an irregular body posture where the waist is bent, the food inside your stomach can travel back up to the esophagus causing heartburn.
The Myths Behind Heartburn During Pregnancy
While there are no baby-gender related myths behind the pain in the chest during pregnancy, several people claim that it’s the growth of hair on baby’s head that’s causing heartburn.
It sounded like an old-wives tale until researchers at Johns Hopkins University tested several pregnant women to find a connection. Surprisingly, the relation exists.
A research that involved 64 pregnant women showed that 78 percent of women experienced heartburn during pregnancy after the hair volume on their baby’s head started to grow.
However, the claim is not related to the growth of hair actually. It’s the amount of estrogen and other hormone levels that rose up which also plays part in the growth of the fetuses inside the womb.
So, if you feel that it’s your baby’s hair that’s causing you the problem, it’s impossible.
Symptoms of Heartburn
Also termed medically as acid indigestion, heartburn is reported mainly during the second and third trimesters. The burning sensation as a result of the acid reflux can make you feel difficult at several times.
Here are the most common signs of heartburn that you experience during pregnancy:
- Frequent burping
- Acidic taste in the mouth
- Discomfort while eating
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Difficulty in swallowing food
- Frequent hiccups
- Chest pain, etc.
The extreme case of heartburn is heart attack, so if you feel difficulty in breathing, the first thing to do is go see a doctor straight away.
How Does Heartburn Feel Like?
Heartburn can be easily be confused with chest pain, while server problems like gallbladder attack, and gastrointestinal problems like ulcers and muscle spasms are taken somewhat similar by the brain.
Researches state that around 300,000 cases of non-cardiac chest pain are diagnosed every year in the United States in which the majority of patients suffer from heartburn.
Some people have noticed pain in the chest like a elephant walking around while some also feel a hammer hitting their heart. The degree pain during heartburn depends on the stomach or heart conditions and it’s different in all pregnant women. A burning sensation around the chest-area is what heartburn normally feels like in most cases.
How To Get Rid of Heartburn During Pregnancy?
Health is one of the most important factors that needs to be considered comparatively more during pregnancy. You need to make sure that your baby stays safe and prolonged heartburn can affect your baby too.
One always needs to make natural remedies as the first priority. Eating healthy, exercising daily, moving out in the fresh air can calm the pain to some extent.
Here are some of the best tips that’ll help you to ease and keep the pain away.
- Eat in small proportions
During pregnancy, your metabolism significantly slows down and the food you eat take a long time to process. If you eat large portions of food, the food remains in your digestive tract for a long time and causes heartburn more often.
But when you eat small portions of food in short span of time, the food gets time to digest completely preventing you from having occasional heartburn.
- Mind your positions
Take care of your positions while you are pregnant. Avoid bending down on your waist and bend your knees if you really have to. This prevents your stomach from pushing your food upwards towards esophagus, thus saving you from heartburn. Also, while sleeping, use many pillows and keep your upper half a bit alleviated.
- Eat healthy and avoid spicy food
Eating spicy, fatty and acidic food can trigger heartburn like anything. You must avoid eating these types of food and opt to relatively bland but healthy food. Specifically, eat the food that can digest fast unlike fatty and spicy food.
- Eat yogurt
Eating yogurt at the time of heartburn can give you relief in few minutes. This is more of a remedy than a measure of prevention for heartburn.
- A glass of warm milk
A warm cup of milk topped with a spoonful of honey can be an instant reliever from heartburn. This is one of the basic and easy remedy for heartburn that you can use at home.
- Wear loose clothes
Rather than wearing the tight fitting clothes, try on clothes that are loose at your waist. This not only helps your stomach relax and make space for food, it also helps you make space for your belly where your baby will remain.
- Quit Alcohol and smoking
Although it is a must that you stop drinking alcohol as well as smoking when you know that you are pregnant, heartburn tells you it is high time that you did that. Alcohol and smoking are one of the most common triggers of heartburn.
If you are having a problem quitting, take help from your caregiver and ask for alternates.
During pregnancy, you cannot take any medications without asking your prenatal caregiver or your doctor. Commonly, antacids that are low in sodium are prescribed. You can also use the chewable antacids from over the counter as they are mostly made from calcium carbonate and do not contain sodium.
But be sure to get an okay from your doctor before you try anything from drugstore as everyone’s body acts differently during pregnancy.
When do you call a doctor?
Although, heartburn during pregnancy are usually harmless, you need to see a doctor if the pain persists for long, even after child birth. You may have to take some prescribed medicines for the pain. But, the major thing to consider for heartburn is to prevent it by opting for healthier lifestyle using the natural methods that are available.
Add your insight and experiences about heartburn in the comment box below!