Heartburn During Pregnancy

Heartburn During Pregnancy

Pregnant women often experience heartburn by feeling a burning sensation in the chest.

50 percent of women experience heartburn at some point during pregnancy. Although it can occur at any point in pregnancy, heartburn tends to occur more frequently in the third trimester.

In this article, learn more about heartburn during pregnancy, how to treat and prevent it, and how to tell if it’s time to see a doctor.

What Is Heartburn?

Pregnant women may complain of heartburn, as the growing uterus can put pressure on the stomach.

One of the main symptoms is a burning sensation in the middle of the chest. The esophagus, or the valve connecting the esophagus to the stomach, weakens, and stomach acid and stomach contents flow back into the esophagus.

Stomach acid is irritating, which causes a burning sensation in the chest.

Besides burning in the chest, other heartburn symptoms include:

  • Burping
  • regurgitation
  • Swelling
  • Nausea

These symptoms tend to appear soon after eating, although not always immediately.

For more information on heartburn, see our article “What to Know About Stomach.”

Why Do Pregnant Women Have Heartburn?

Pregnant women are more likely to have heartburn for a variety of reasons.

First, during pregnancy, the hormone progesterone is secreted in higher amounts to support pregnancy. Progesterone causes the valve that separates the food pipe from the stomach to relax, causing heartburn.

In addition, the growing uterus begins to put pressure on the stomach and other internal organs in the next pregnancy. This pressure can also push food and stomach acid back into the food pipe.

People who have had heartburn before pregnancy and have been pregnant before are more likely to have indigestion and heartburn.

Can Heartburn During Pregnancy Be Prevented?

Preventing heartburn is the best way to manage it. Certain foods or drinks tend to trigger symptoms. Avoiding these foods can help prevent the discomfort associated with heartburn. Foods that trigger heartburn include:

  • Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, and pineapple
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated drinks or carbonated drinks
  • Oily and fatty foods
  • spicy food
  • Tomatoes
  • Chocolate

In addition to avoiding these foods, eating smaller meals more often may help. Instead of three large meals a day, five or six smaller meals may be better.

Standing upright for at least 20 to 30 minutes after a meal can prevent stomach contents from returning to the food pipe.

It is better not to eat within 3 hours after going to bed at night. Raising the head of the bed or using extra pillows to raise the head can help prevent heartburn that occurs at night.

It is also important to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Neither is healthy during pregnancy, and both can contribute to heartburn.

Drinking a glass of milk can help reduce symptoms. Low-fat or skim milk is better because whole milk is rich, which can worsen heartburn.

Heartburn Treatment

If these lifestyle changes don’t help prevent heartburn symptoms, it may be time to consider medications.

The following is general information about antacids and other over-the-counter medicines for heartburn.

As always, it’s best to talk to your doctor before taking any medication, especially during pregnancy. The drugs that you can ask your doctor and use in line with his recommendation are as follows:

Calcium carbonate pills: Calcium carbonate tablets can be used to treat heartburn.

It is considered safe during pregnancy. Calcium carbonate neutralizes stomach acid so it’s less irritating if it gets back up into the food pipe. People should make sure to read the directions on the bottle for a pregnancy safe dose.

H2 receptor antagonists: It is also considered safe during pregnancy. These are famotidine, cimetidine and ranitidine. These drugs reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach.

Proton pump inhibitors: Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) prevent the secretion of stomach acids and work well in the treatment of heartburn. Common PPIs include pantoprazole and lansoprazole.

Most proton pump inhibitors are considered safe in pregnancy. However, the use of a PPI called omeprazole is not recommended. Few studies have been done to confirm that it is safe.

Please do not take or use these drugs without consulting your doctor!!!

Is There a Difference Between Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease?

Heartburn, acid reflux, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are often used interchangeably, but they are not quite the same.

Acid reflux is the regurgitation of stomach acid back into the esophagus causing heartburn symptoms. GERD is a more serious form of acid reflux and heartburn.

Additional GERD symptoms may include:

  • chronic cough
  • Grunt
  • chest pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • Insufficient food or stomach acid

GERD is estimated to affect 40 percent of Americans on a monthly basis. GERD treatments are very similar to acid reflux or heartburn treatments.

Avoiding triggers, basic lifestyle changes, and medications can be effective for managing symptoms. However, in severe cases of GERD, prescription medication or even surgery may be needed to improve the condition.

For more information on GERD, “What is Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)?” You can check our article.

When to See a Doctor for Heartburn / Burning During Pregnancy?

It is important to see the doctor regularly as part of prenatal care. Heartburn that is not relieved by lifestyle or dietary changes should be mentioned to the doctor at a routine prenatal visit. If medication is recommended, make sure it is effective in treating symptoms.

While heartburn is common during pregnancy, it’s especially important to mention the symptoms if they’re severe or interfere with daily life.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Heartburn during pregnancy: What to do, 2017


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