• The Fit Midwife

Heartburn in Pregnancy..... 9 Tips on Putting Out the Fire

Do you suffer from heartburn in pregnancy? Have the things you normally eat suddenly turned your stomach in to the firey pits of hell?

I really feel your pain with this one. Although not pregnant I suffer massively from heartburn and reflux and am never seen without a bottle of Gaviscon in my bag.

But what causes it in pregnancy and how can you deal with it?

Well…. Progesterone is a pregnancy hormone that relaxes smooth muscle (especially the uterus so it can stretch to accommodate your growing baby). But as a result it also relaxes the valve that separates the oesophagus from the stomach, which can make the gastric acid move back up and cause that unpleasant burning sensation.

Progesterone can also make digestion sluggish by slowing down the normal movement of the intestines (peristalsis). And as you become more pregnant your growing baby squashes your abdominal organs and sends that stomach acid back up. But don’t worry, there are many things to be done.

So here are my Top 9 Tips for handling heartburn in pregnancy:

1. Find out what food and drink triggers your heartburn - If you suffer a lot then keep a food diary on MyFitnessPal and identify what sets you off then cut back or swap those foods out. Common culprits are fresh fruit, coffee, spicy or fries food, raw veg.

2. Eat smaller portions, more often - Instead of having 3 large meals maybe split that in to 4 or 5 throughout your day. Give that slower digestive system a chance to do its job. Graze like a cow, you’ll soon be producing milk like one!

3. Stay hydrated - Keeping hydrated in pregnancy is important. Avoid guzzling water at the end of your day because you forgot. Drinking large volumes of water can distend your stomach and cause that discomfort. So drink consistently throughout the day in between your meals.

4. Don’t eat right before bed - Eating too close to bedtime can mean you go to bed with your body trying to digest a meal. Then you lie down and the stomach acid that needs to break down your food can leak through the lax valve and in to the oesophagus…. hello heartburn and indigestion.

5. Do not sleep flat - Now as pregnant women it isn’t recommended that you sleep flat on your back from around 26 weeks. But even flat on your side can encourage stomach acid to move up where it isn’t supposed to be. So prop yourself up on some pillows and elevate your body by around 6-7 inches.

6. Chew chewing gum after meals - Chewing gum stimulates saliva production. Saliva contains enzymes to neutralise stomach acid. Simples. Old Wives Tales - Some people chew mint leaves. Others have a glass of milk, liquorice etc etc. Hey if it works then go for it.

7. Over the Counter heartburn medications - For me I cannot get any relief unless I take medication. I usually go for Gaviscon Advance (I like the liquid as it acts so fast). There are many other brands that you can have but check with your pharmacist first that it is safe for pregnancy.

8. Prescription medication - Ask your Doctor about medications such as PPIs or H2 Blockers like Lansoprazole, Omeprazole or Ranitidine.

Do you have any triggers or remedies for heartburn?? It can completely ruin your day if you cannot get it under control and that's the last thing you need whilst growing a tiny human!

Nikki xx

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