Acid reflux is a common problem in pregnant women. In fact, a majority of these soon-to-be mothers complain of frequent heartburn during the later stage of their pregnancy. This is attributed to muscular weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that serves as the barrier between the esophagus and the stomach.
Improper function of LES can cause acid reflux that will eventually lead to heartburn — described as a burning sensation in both chest and throat. Its functions is to accommodate food passing through esophagus and closes solid to stop the backflow of acidic content due to the constant pressure in the stomach.
Dealing With Heartburn During Pregnancy
Before taking steps to deal with heartburn during pregnancy, it would be best to explore the physical nature of the problem to address it properly.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces a hormone called progesterone that relaxes the muscles found in the uterus. The only drawback to this activity is that it also relaxes other muscles in the vicinity as well — your LES. Once the LES is relaxed, it cannot maintain its solidity as a barrier to stop the flow of stomach acids to the esophagus. This temporary malfunction of the LES during pregnancy causes heartburn or acid reflux.
Another factor that contributes to the occurrence of heartburn in pregnant women is in the later stages of pregnancy. As the baby grows in size, the more space it takes up. This mass pushes the stomach upward causing some of its content to spill through the already weakened LES — thus causing heartburn.
Heartburn Treatment for Pregnant Women
It is advisable to avoid taking any medicines or drugs to cure heartburn problems during pregnancy. There may be possible side-effects that might harm the baby. There are certain steps, however, that will allow you to deal with it without endangering your unborn child; such as:
1. Proper Clothing
When you’re already in late pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid wearing tight clothing that will add to the pressure in your already bulging tummy. The pressure will not endanger the baby in any way, but will result in a build-up that will cause your LES to give way — causing more heartburn in the process.
2. Watching Your Weight
You might want to look into the possibility of trimming down a bit to decrease the pressure on your LES. You can implement a diet plan with your healthcare provider to ensure that you are fit enough to carry your child, while dealing with your heartburn problem.
3. Proper Bending
Since pressure is one of the few things that cause heartburn in pregnant women, it is advisable to bend the right way to reduce the possibility of adding more pressure to your LES.
For starters, you can bend at the knees instead of bending over from your waist. The size of your stomach will inadvertently apply pressure to your LES when bending from the waist.
4. Eat the Right Way
Avoid eating large meals during your pregnancy. Also, you need to chew your food slowly and surely to ensure that whatever goes down your esophagus and through your LES will not be chunky enough to cause heartburn.
As mentioned above, late stages of pregnancy tend to push the stomach upward, squeezing the pouch-like organ. You need to take steps that will not increase its overall size. Drink small amounts of water to avoid filling up your pouch, as well as eating small meals.
5. Constantly Chewing Gum
Our saliva has a unique property that neutralizes acid, so you need to produce some in abundance that will reduce the acid level in your stomach. An easy way to do this is to chew a gum during pregnancy. Also, chewing gum can help release the air bubbles trapped in your stomach that lead to heartburn.