Suffering from acid reflux and pregnant and know not what to do? Help is at hand. Understand what the condition is all about, and how you can tackle it with ease.
Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
Acid reflux is commonly known as heartburn or indigestion disorder. This is a very common condition in which one experiences a burning sensation in the lower chest. This happens when the stomach acid flows backwards into the food pipe.
This happens when you eat very oily or spicy foods. When pregnant women experience acid reflux, it is usually a persistent problem, beginning in the first trimester.
When pregnant women experience acid reflux, it is normally due to a range of physical changes. Some of them are hormonal changes, such as an increase in hormonal secretion which contributes to increasing gastric acid in the abdomen. This leads to acid influx in the stomach that is accompanied by a burning sensation. Though heartburn is common during pregnancy, it lasts only for the duration of the first trimester of pregnancy.
What really happens during pregnancy is that hormone changes that women undergo allow the esophagal muscles to relax oftener. Consequently, more acids may flow back upwards, particularly if the pregnant woman lies down or after she has eaten a big meal.
Additionally, as the foetus grows during the second and third trimesters, the uterus expands to make room for the baby, putting the pregnant woman’s stomach under greater pressure. This pushes back into the oesophagus any food eaten and stomach acids.
Though heartburn and regurgitation are the main symptoms of acid reflux, there are other acid reflux symptoms like bloating, black stools, burping, hiccups, dysphagia and hiccups.
Is pregnancy a factor for acid reflux?
Pregnancy does increase one’s risk for acid reflux. During the first trimester, esophagal muscles push food at a slower rate into the stomach. The stomach, in turn, takes equally long to empty. This gives the body sufficient time to absorb nutrients for the developing foetus, which can cause acid reflux. During the third trimester, the baby’s growth can cause the stomach to be pushed out of its original position, causing acid reflux.
First-aid for acid reflux in pregnant women
If you get acid reflux during pregnancy, do the following as outlined below:
- Make a solution of baking soda and water and drink the liquid for instant relief.
- Alternatively, drink a little apple cider vinegar diluted in water.
- Eat a teaspoon of yellow mustard directly to fight acid reflux.
Treating acid reflux
Pregnant women can be treated for acid reflux either with certain medications, making dietary changes and/or by adopting some lifestyle changes.
Pregnant women suffering from acid reflux can take these medicines on their doctors’ advice:
- Sucralfate: It does not cause congenital deformities in animals, nor even in higher doses taken by humans. It can be safely taken by pregnant women on doctor’s recommendation.
- Acid reducers, e.g. Cimetidine or Ranitidine
- Proton pump inhibitors, such as Omeprazole or Lansoprazole
- Popular antacids like Maalox, Tums or Rolaids can help bring relief to heartburn symptoms. Women should choose those made with magnesium or calcium carbonate but should avoid magnesium during the third trimester of pregnancy as this mineral could cause some hindrance to contractions during delivery. Antacids that contain aluminium should also be avoided as they cause constipation.
- Pregnant women should also not take Alka-Seltzer as it contains aspirin.
- Pregnant women should not consume alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, juices, processed meats and fatty, fried or spicy foods.
- They should eat several small meals instead of three large ones, chewing their food thoroughly.
- They should sip water between meals as they must remain hydrated through the day during pregnancy.
- A gap of two or three hours should be given after a meal before bedtime so that the food is well digested.
Read More: GM Diet While Trying To Conceive
Certain lifestyle changes can help solve the problem of acid reflux among pregnant women. Some of these are:
- Sleep in an elevated position: The head of the bed should be raised by about six to eight inches so that the upper body is elevated.
- Lie on the left side at night: Lying on the left can reduce acid as it is difficult for acid to go back up into the esophagus.
- Don’t bend after a meal: Instead, take a short walk.
- Don’t smoke: Not only is this dangerous for the foetus, but smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter and causes acid reflux.