Heartburn and Acidity during Pregnancy

Heartburn and acidity are often used synonymously, though they are two different medical terms. Heartburn refers to the burning sensation in your food pipe (from throat all the way down to the base of breast bone) as the acid from the stomach travels up the pipe. The pain is felt much higher than the stomach in this case. Acidity, on the other hand, refers to the excess production of stomach acids than what is needed for digestion. In this case, the pain is felt in the stomach or just above it. Acidity can cause heartburn and both these conditions may occur during pregnancy making you feel very uncomfortable.

Causes

Hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy lead to heartburn and acidity. Progesterone, the hormone produced by the placenta, relaxes the valve between food pipe and stomach causing the acid to regurgitate back into the esophagus. This results in heartburn. Progesterone is also known to reduce the pace of digestive activity, leading to excess acid content in the stomach. This is referred to as acidity. Reduced movement of food from stomach and intestine with the growth of the baby in the womb also causes acidity. And this can, in turn, lead to heartburn. It usually starts during the second trimester and may continue until delivery.

Management

It is difficult to completely avoid these conditions during pregnancy. But, fret not! There are ways to minimize the discomfort caused by heartburn and acidity.

  • Avoid fizzy or carbonated drinks
  • Reduce processed food or ready-made meals
  • Reduce the intake of foods that aggravate acidity. This includes
    • Coffee
    • Chocolate
    • Spicy food
    • Citrus fruits
    • Alcohol
    • Oily dishes
  • Have a cup of cold milk
  • Have some yogurt
  • Have small quantities at frequent intervals
  • Avoiding drinking large quantities of fluid during meals
  • Have your dinner two-three hours before bedtime
  • Avoid smoking
  • Keep your shoulders in a raised position than your tummy while sleeping

 

If you are very uncomfortable with the pain or heartburn, do speak to your doctor. Some antacids can help you get relief from these conditions. But, remember! You should talk to your doctor before taking any of the over-the-counter medications.

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