More than 50% of women complain of heartburn during pregnancy. That burning sensation pregnant women feel in their chest is a symptom of acid reflux.
Hormones and your growing belly play a significant role in the development of acid reflux. Though you may not be able to control these pregnancy-related factors, you can manage acid reflux while you’re pregnant.
At GI Physicians Inc. in Lima, Ohio, Ven Kottapalli, MD, CNSP, and our skilled team take a conservative approach when treating acid reflux.
In this blog, we share some techniques that may help you manage acid reflux during pregnancy.
Pregnancy and acid reflux
Pregnancy is an exciting and joyful time for expecting mothers. However, the body goes through many hormonal and physical changes during the nine months of gestation, and these changes can trigger a host of unpleasant symptoms, such as heartburn and indigestion.
Progesterone, known as the pregnancy hormone, causes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax. The LES is the muscle that separates your stomach from your esophagus. Because the LES relaxes, this can make it easier for the acidic contents of your stomach to regurgitate up into your esophagus and cause acid reflux.
Many women say their acid reflux symptoms worsen during the third trimester. This is because of the growing uterus, which crowds the digestive organs and pushes the stomach up into the esophagus.
The hormonal changes also slow down digestion, which allows your body to absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. However, this means food may stay in your stomach longer and worsen your heartburn.
Acid reflux symptoms
Heartburn, a burning sensation in your chest, is the most common symptom of acid reflux. But that’s not the only acid reflux symptom you may have during pregnancy.
Your pregnancy-induced acid reflux may also cause indigestion, bloating, food regurgitation, or frequent burping. You may also feel full all the time, which may affect your appetite, or it may feel as though you have something stuck in your throat.
Managing acid reflux during pregnancy
Though acid reflux can make you feel miserable during pregnancy, these symptoms usually go away after giving birth. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help ease your acid reflux.
We always take a conservative approach when treating acid reflux, which usually means making lifestyle adjustments. To manage acid reflux during pregnancy, we often recommend the following:
- Eating six small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals
- Taking time when eating, and sitting up straight during meals
- Drinking in between meals
- Avoiding fried, fatty, spicy, and acidic foods
- Waiting at least three hours after eating before lying down
- Using pillows to raise your head when sleeping
We also recommend avoiding chocolate and peppermint during pregnancy. These foods can also relax your LES, which could worsen your acid reflux symptoms. Furthermore, over-the-counter antacids may not be safe during pregnancy, so you should talk with your provider before using them.
If lifestyle changes fail to ease your acid reflux, we can talk with you about other treatment options. To learn more, call 419-228-2600 or book an appointment online with GI Physicians Inc. today.