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How does Pregnancy affect Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux and pregnancy are quiet common together since when they do occur you would come across a lot of pregnant women seeking advice on how to tackle such scenario. As we all are aware that heartburn can affect different individuals and seems to be a common case but out here we would be specifically talking about heartburn during pregnancy.

The primary hormone which is said to relax the muscles during pregnancy is equally known to be responsible for opening as well as closing the valve that keeps the acid out of the stomach. That hormone is known as progesterone. There are multiple actions an individual can carry out so as to repress this acid reflux all of these are basically small steps towards a healthy esophagus. When these actions are coupled together they would collectively cascade to increase the effectiveness.

In case of a normal digestion, the food is said to travel down the esophagus which is basically a tube in between the mouth and the stomach. It travels through a muscular valve known as lower esophageal sphincter or LES and then into the stomach. LES basically acts as a doorway in between the esophagus and the stomach.

It opens up for allowing the food through and then closes to stop the acids from the stomach to come back. In case of a heartburn or an acid reflux the LES tries to relax enough for allowing the stomach acid to rise into the esophagus this then leads to pain as well as burning sensation in the chest region.

During the case of pregnancy, due to the hormonal changes it can allow for the muscles present in the esophagus as well as the LES to relax quite often. The result would be that more of the acids can tend to come back through the esophagus mostly when one is lying down or after eating a heavy meal.

Also as the foetus grows inside approaching the second and the third trimester along with the uterus expanding  for accommodating the growth of the baby, the stomach is also under a lot of pressure during those times which can also lead to the food as well as the acid being pushed back into the esophagus.

  • Stay away from those food items which can aggravate the case of acid reflux which can include fatty food items, acidic foods such as citrus or tomato based items, chocolates, caffeine and carbonated beverages. Eat smaller and frequent meals and also only drink water in between the meals. You can also chew sugarless chewing gum after meals since they increase the saliva which can help in neutralising the acid. Stay upright for at least an hour after meal instead of immediately lying down. You can also go for a walk for improvement in digestion. When one is pregnant there is less room for the stomach to expand hence maintaining a sensible diet plan would not only help in reducing the issue of heartburn for short term. Also gaining more weight than recommended during pregnancy can lead to added pressure on the abdomen which in turn can lead to triggering of the condition. Instead of going in for three meals in a day try to aim for six meals which are frequent and smaller portion of not more than half a cup of food each. Smaller meals become very easy for the body to digest. It is also important to identify those food items which can intensify the case of heartburn and then you can ward it off from your diet plan. Avoid greasy or fried foods, spicy foods and alcohol. Liquid food items are less likely to lead to any problem than the solid ones since they can move through the stomach even more quickly and without any issue. When we talk about liquidy foods then one can go in for smoothies, soups, protein shakes, milk shakes, yogurt or puddings. Do not go in for liquids which are loaded with fats and sugar instead opt for those which are offering plenty of proteins such as yogurt, milk or any dairy item. Ensure to chew your foods slowly and very well until they become soft and liquidify.
  • Try and avoid excess consumption of antacid which are mostly high in sodium since these medications can lead to excess build-up of fluids in the tissues. Also avoid the consumption of any medication which contains aluminium hydroxide or aluminium carbonate since they can turn out to be constipating and also can turn out to be quite toxic if taken in large dose. Calcium carbonate or magnesium based over the counter antacids are a good option. But it is also stressed that one should avoid the use of magnesium during the last trimester since it can interfere with contractions. You can find relief in going for calcium containing antacids but again a word of caution is that too much of calcium can tend to block the absorption of iron so avoid taking too many of it at the same time as you take your other prenatal vitamins or supplements. Try to avoid the use of aspirin or any other medication contain aspirin as the ingredient during the pregnancy period instead you can look out for ingredients such as salicylate or acetylsalicylic acid. Also one should stay away from antacid containing sodium bicarbonate or sodium citrate since both are high in sodium thereby leading to water retention.

It is also important for the pregnant woman to take ample amount of rest. For avoiding any heartburn during night time it is advisable to not eat anything for at least three to four hours before hitting the bed. Try and elevate the head of the bed.

This can be done by placing certain books underneath the legs. For those individuals who are not used to sleeping on the left side should start doing so now since by doing so it would become difficult for the stomach acid to travel up the esophagus.