Often, there is more heartburn during pregnancy.Why is that so, and what can you do about it?
Why Is There More Heartburn During Pregnancy?
To understand why the incidence of heartburn rises during pregnancy, lets first understand what causes heartburn.
- When we eat, the food goes past the throat and down the esophagus to the stomach. At the bottom of the esophagus, there is the lower esophageal sphincter (also known as the LES). It is supposed to be closed tightly most of the time. (One exception is when we swallow.)
- With peristalsis, which is the rhythmic motion of the food being carried along through the digestive tract, the food stays in the stomach for a while and is digested by the acids in the stomach. Unfortunately, sometimes that sphincter does not stay closed when it should, and the acid splashes back up into the esophagus and burns it.
Many factors can increase the incidence of heartburn.
- It is most common after overeating, or when lying down, bending over, lifting, straining, and coughing. And certain foods and drinks can make it worse, like spicy foods, or high fat foods, or coffee.
- It is also aggravated by too tight of clothing over the stomach, stress, obesity, and pregnancy, itself. It is obvious to see why these factors would add to the incidence of heartburn during pregnancy – stress, tight clothing, etc.
What Can Be Done for Heartburn During Pregnancy?
The quickest, easiest solution for heartburn during pregnancy is to take an antacid. Though not recommended as a long-term solution, if taken intermittently, an antacid can relieve the heartburn quickly. While it will not help heal the esophagus, it will relieve the heartburn sometimes felt during pregnancy. It is worth a try and antacids are available over-the-counter.
Another option is to try taking sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda. Just a teaspoon or two mixed into a glass of water and drunk can help with heartburn, and often relieves it for several days. Though it is not palatable to drink, having a few days off from heartburn can be worth it.