The body is constantly changing while pregnant and these changes can mean a beautiful body and a smiling baby at the end of the gestational period. Not all changes, however, are positive in nature. The smaller stomach associated with the growing fetus can often cause heartburn and a feeling of pain in the chest after meals. Pregnant women who feel these symptoms are not alone. More than ½ of all pregnancies face heartburn during pregnancy.
Other Causes of Heartburn During Pregnancy
While the growing fetus may be one cause of heartburn during pregnancy, he / she is not the only reason. The changing hormones can also affect the way the stomach handles certain foods and the size of the stomach sphincter that provides a barrier between the esophagus and the stomach acids.
Heartburn during pregnancy can begin when the hormones change the way foods are processed in the stomach. Once tolerated foods can now cause severe heartburn and indigestion because the body is essentially different now that baby is on board. These same hormones are the ones that relax the muscles of the body to allow the body to grow and take on the added stress of extra weight. The hormones do not differentiate between the muscles of the body and thus the sphincter at the top of the stomach is loosened as well. When this sphincter loosens, the stomach acids can escape into the esophagus and cause heartburn during pregnancy.
Relieving the Pain of Heartburn During Pregnancy
There is little the woman can do to completely eliminate heartburn during pregnancy, but there are a few changes that can be made to help reduce the number of times heartburn during pregnancy is felt. The pregnant woman can start by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. These smaller meals will lessen the amount of stomach acid apt to push into the esophagus and cause heartburn. It is also important to chew food completely, take your time when chewing and avoid foods that are spicy.
Physically, heartburn during pregnancy can also be prevented with the right clothing choices. Mom's stomach is the center of attention and needs to be given room to grow. Wearing clothing or undergarments that are even a little bit too tight can increase the pressure of the tummy on the stomach. This can increase the amount of stomach acid escaping into the esophagus and thus increase the heartburn during pregnancy.
Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medications for Heartburn During Pregnancy
Some obstetricians will allow the pregnant mom to take Tums or Maalox while pregnant when these subtle changes do not reduce the occurrence of heartburn during pregnancy. This is especially true other mothers pregnant with multiples as the room in the abdomen will decrease more quickly and continued burning by the stomach acids can leave mom with serious damage after baby is born. In rare cases, the obstetrician may prescribe heartburn medication in order to combat the acids in the stomach until after the baby is born. Commonly, the effect of heartburn during pregnancy is totally relieved soon after birth