One of the most common complaints of pregnant women is heartburn during pregnancy. It is important to make it clear that despite its name, the condition has nothing to do with the heart but rather has to do with the burning sensation felt at the center of the chest.
In general, heartburn during pregnancy is considered as harmless and common but can be quite uncomfortable. Moreover, the condition is usually manifested in women undergoing their first pregnancy.
In most instances, pregnant women begin experiencing gastrointestinal discomforts like heartburn during their second half of the pregnancy period. The condition of heartburn during pregnancy normally comes and goes for the duration of the pregnancy and at times for some time after the baby has been delivered.
If the condition persists even after pregnancy then perhaps you should consult a medical practitioner to ensure there are no other health problems associated with the heartburn during pregnancy.
Identifying Heartburn during Pregnancy
Heartburn is a condition which is also referred to as acid reflux or acid indigestion. It usually causes a burning sensation which covers the bottom of the breastbone up to the lower throat. Normally this condition is brought about by physical and hormonal changes in the body like pregnancy.
When heartburn occurs the valve between the food pipe or esophagus and the stomach are not capable of stopping the stomach acids from going into the esophagus. Heartburn during pregnancy is increased because of the progesterone hormone that is responsible for making the valve relax.
Essentially, pregnancy is responsible for producing progesterone which is needed to relax the smooth muscles found in the uterus. Unfortunately the relaxation extends to the esophagus and causes the unpleasant burning sensation.
Moreover, the hormone progesterone responsible for heartburn during pregnancy also results in sluggish digestion because it slows down wavelike contractions of the intestines and esophagus. As the baby grows, it crowds the abdominal cavity
further pushing back the stomach acids to the esophagus. Normally, heartburn during pregnancy becomes more frequent during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Achieving a Healthy Pregnancy despite Heartburn
When it comes to heartburn during pregnancy it is almost impossible to completely eliminate it. However, there are some things that pregnant women can do in order to minimize the amount of discomfort that they feel.
1. Stay away from foods and drinks that can result in gastrointestinal distress like caffeine, carbonated drinks, acidic foods, chocolate, mustard, vinegar, and tomatoes among others. Drinking while pregnant is also highly discouraged because alcohol consumption can result in heartburn during pregnancy.
2. Opt for smaller meals scattered throughout the day. Also chew your food properly to aid proper digestion.
3. Control your intake of fluids to prevent your stomach from swelling. Keep in mind that it is still important to consume eight to ten glasses of water every day during pregnancy. However, instead of drinking it directly from the glass it is better to sip it using a straw.
4. Chew gum after meals to stimulate salivary glands and neutralize stomach acids.
5. Take your last meal of the day at least three hours before bedtime to have enough time for digestion.
6. Do not sleep flat on your back; rather use several pillows to elevate your upper body to keep stomach acids in the digestive tract.
7.Pregnancy weight gain can contribute to heartburn during pregnancy. It is important to keep within the weight range identified by your health care provider and exercise during pregnancy.
8. Use comfortable clothing especially around the stomach and waist.
9.Use your knees when you need to bend down instead of bending from the waist.
10. Avoid smoking during pregnancy because it boosts stomach acidity aggravating heartburn during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Weight Gain and Heartburn
It is important to understand that almost anybody is susceptible to heartburn especially without proper and healthy eating habits. Since the condition is more evident in people who are overweight or obese, the pregnancy weight gain can become a contributory factor for heartburn. This is why it is so important to observe healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. Moreover, the pregnancy weight gain may prove to be difficult to shed for most women.
Aside from heartburn during pregnancy, the additional weight can also lead to other potential pregnancy complications. One such problem especially for women who are experiencing first time pregnancy would be depression during pregnancy. The unpredictable nature of the heartburn during pregnancy can take its toll emotionally on pregnant women. Furthermore, the inability to achieve proper rest can lead to stress and pregnancy problems.
Indigestion and Depression during Pregnancy
When contemplating on the most common causes of heartburn during pregnancy, two factors immediately come to mind. First is indigestion. This condition commonly occurs in pregnant women resulting in gassy, bloated, or full stomach. The condition which is also referred to as dyspepsia is normally attributed to the changes in eating habits during pregnancy brought about by hormonal changes.
Another factor that can cause heartburn during pregnancy is depression. Basically, pregnant women that experience depression during pregnancy have their eating habits totally overhauled. This means that most of the time they fail to digest their food or engage in eating binges which can eventually result in heartburn during pregnancy.This is especially true for pregnant women who find comfort in food because of their lack of outlet to express their mood disorder.
It is quite clear that compared to other common pregnancy complications heartburn during pregnancy is not as dangerous. However, if left unchecked, it can be a contributory cause for serious health problems for both mother and baby.
Because of this, it is highly encouraged that pregnant women consult a medical professional to ensure that healthy pregnancy is ensured despite experiencing heartburn during pregnancy.