Heartburn is another common pregnancy complaint, even for women who have never had heartburn before. But it isn’t your heart that is burning, it’s your stomach!
As your baby grows, the occurrence of heartburn increases. By the end of the second trimester and extend through the third trimester the growing uterus moves and displace the stomach and the intestines upward, producing a burning sensation in the stomach near the location of the heart in the chest.
Hormones are guilty too, progesterone an important pregnancy hormone, relaxes muscles including the digestive tract and lower esophageal sphincter (LES) allowing gastric acid reflux.
Causes of heartburn during pregnancy
Heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) AKA cardiac sphincter at the junction of the esophagus and stomach, allows gastric acid to reflux up into the esophagus.
During pregnancy heartburn is caused:
Increased amounts of progesterone (P4) produce relaxation of the cardiac sphincter of the stomach. Gastrointestinal motility is decreased resulting from this smooth muscle relaxation and when the sphincter opens, the acid in the stomach can reflux into the esophagus resulting in heartburn.
Displacement and compression by the enlarging uterus especially during the third trimester, reduces room in the stomach to function properly and pushes stomach acid through the esophageal sphincter.
Other Causes of heartburn during pregnancy
Pre-existing medical conditions like Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or Hiatal Hernia.
- Burning sensation from stomach to throat due to the acidity from stomach causes the material to burn the throat
- Sour taste in mouth produced by acidic gastric contents into the lower esophagus by reversed peristalsis.
Recommendations to prevent heartburn
- << 1 >> In pregnancy digestion slows naturally to increase absorption of nutrients, eat slowly to help digest better and increase even more that nutrient absorption.
- << 2 >> Eat Frequent and eat small. Eating several small meals per day may help your stomach not to get overload.
- << 3 >> Maintain an upright posture or stretch your arms high over your head,this will give more room for your stomach to function, allowing gravity to control reflux keeping stomach contents in their place and avoid any pressure on your stomach.
- << 4 >> Reduce amount of liquid consumed with each meal. This will dilute stomach acids needed to help trigger the LES to stay closed.
- << 5 >> Avoid spicy/acidic, greasy/fatty foods.
- << 6 >> Caffeine, smoking and alcohol will likely exacerbate the problem.
- << 7 >> Restrict food and liquid intake a few hours prior to bedtime and wait at least one hour after eating to lie down. In bed put some extra pillows to raise your head up to 10 – 30 degrees.
Over the Counter medications
- Antacids preparations with aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, or magnesium trisilicate (Mylanta, Maalox, Milk of magnesia)
- Simethicone (Mylicon, Phazyme, Gas-X)
- Histamine H2 antagonist like Famotidine (Pepcid AC)
- Ranitidine (Zantac)
– Do not use baking soda
– Do not use sodium bicarbonate (Alka-Seltzer) as sodium could increase edema
These may help a lot
- Slippery elm bark tea helps coating the esophagus and preventing irritation and inflammation caused by the stomach acid that flows up the esophagus. Precaution with the outer bark it may cause miscarriage.
- Raw almonds can help neutralize stomach acid and the oils help slow acid production.
- Papaya (raw fresh, dried, juice) or papaya enzyme tablets
Precaution: unrip papaya contains a high concentration of latex which can cause uterine contractions.
Call your health care provider if:
No relief after 1 week