Pregnancy brings all kinds of changes to your body, and unfortunately that can include severe heartburn. It's very common, but dealing with heartburn symptoms when you have a baby on the way is no one's idea of a good time. But by reviewing the things doctors want you to know about pregnancy heartburn, you can get a better idea of what this condition is all about, including its common triggers and remedies.
For starters, it's helpful to review what heartburn is all about. An irritation of the esophagus, heartburn occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that usually holds the stomach's contents in place, opens too often or leaks, as explained in WebMD. By failing to seal properly, so to speak, the LES lets stomach acid up seep into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. This unpleasant and sometimes painful sensation is known as heartburn, although it doesn't involve the heart in any way. The burning feeling is very real, however.
Although it may seem like a straightforward condition at first, a lot of factors can affect the severity and frequency of heartburn. Read on to learn a little more about the condition, as well as some simple tips for managing heartburn during pregnancy.
1. Some Foods Make It Worse
This is not great news for the chocolate fans out there. Foods such as chocolate and mint can worsen symptoms of heartburn, as well as anything that contains caffeine, as noted in WebMD. Yep, that means coffee. Avoiding these foods, or at least enjoying them sparingly, might help decrease your heartburn.
2. Pregnancy Itself Can Cause Heartburn
There's a reason heartburn is so common among pregnant women. Some of the physical changes that come along with pregnancy make heartburn more likely to happen. Pregnancy produces a hormone known as relaxin, which slows down your digestion, as noted by Suzanne Trupin, M.D., in Fit Pregnancy. This means more food stays in your stomach for a longer period of time, producing more stomach acid. Add in a growing baby that presses against your stomach, and the likelihood of some acid getting pushed up your esophagus increases.
3. Staying Upright Can Soothe It
Sure, your bed is probably more inviting than ever, especially right after dinner. But it might be better to stay on your feet a little longer. "Wait a couple hours after eating before going to bed, or prop yourself up on a few pillows," said Dr. Rabin, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and women's health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in Parents.
4. Certain Foods Can Ease Heartburn
Eating some foods could help lessen the symptoms of heartburn, so stock up on these. "Vegetables, ginger (which has natural anti-inflammatory properties), whole grains (like oatmeal, rice and breads) and healthy fats may help manage symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy," said Crystal Karges, M.S., R.D.N., in Eating Well.
5. Smaller Meals Can Help
Sticking to three square meals may not be in your best interest, heartburn-wise. Eat a few smaller meals throughout the day instead. "This will help decrease the amount of acid in your stomach," said Amanda Selk, OB/GYN at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, in Today's Parent. Hey, it isn't all bad. Just pretend you're eating tapas.
6. It Happens All The Time
Heartburn is a super common complaint during pregnancy. In fact, between 17 to 45 percent of pregnant woman experience heartburn during pregnancy, as explained in BMJ Clinical Evidence. For what it's worth, you're in good company.
7. Heartburn Does Predict Hairy Babies
It's one of those strange but true facts. Women who deal with severe heartburn during pregnancy appear more likely to have newborns with lots of hair, as explained in Birth. So if you do deal with impossible heartburn during pregnancy, then you might look forward to having a baby with an awesome head of hair.