Acid Reflux During Pregnancy

Acid reflux during pregnancy is no fun. Becoming pregnant can bring on terrible episodes of heartburn, even when you have never experienced acid reflux before.  It will not get better until your baby is born, so you need to understand what's causing you heartburn and discover ways to stop it.

Why Heartburn During Pregnancy? 

Baby

A growing little one, takes more and more place in your abdomen. The increased pressure pushes on your stomach and forces gastric acid into your esophagus. That is the main reason why you have acid reflux during pregnancy. 

Stomach Valve

To prepare for an easy delivery, moms-to-be produce progesterone and relaxine. These two hormones relax muscles, joints and ligaments. Unfortunately, they also have a relaxing effect on your stomach valve. This allows gatric acid to seep back up your gullet, which causes heartburn.

Delayed Stomach Emptening

Hormonal changes cause another problem in your digestive system. They relax smooth muscle tissue in your intestines, which slows down your digestion time. Foods stay longer in your digestive tract before you excrete them. Therefore, slowly digested sugars (these are the ones that you avoid in a low FODMAP diet) spend more time in your small intestine and have the time to feed gas-producing bacteria. This situation is called small intestine bacterial overgrowth. The gas pushes on your stomach and causes bloating, burping and acid reflux during pregnancy. 

Tips To Avoid Heartburn During Pregnancy

Smaller Meals 

Don't eat too much during your main meals. If you fill up your stomach completely, you make it more likely that food will repeat on you. With a piece of fruit, you can snack healthily between your meals. An apple is ideal.

Avoid fruit as a dessert. It digests too slowly when you eat it on a full stomach. Fruit sugars that can't pass quickly through your digestive system, hang around too long in your small intestine and feed gas-producing bacteria that raise pressure on your stomach.

Drink-wise, avoid having much just before and during mealtimes. It fills up your stomach and dilutes your digestive juices. Drink water when you wake up in the morning and between your meals. Avoid coffee, fruit juices, tea and carbonated beverages.

Slow down, chew thoroughly and ideally give your body a good 45 minutes in an upright position after you've eaten.

Avoid Overweight

What If  You're Obese Before Pregnancy?

Obesity is a risk factor for developing acid reflux and heartburn.  Obviously, it's not a good idea to try to lose weight during pregnancy. Pregnancy is definitely not the time to start dieting. Weight-loss regimes are likely to leave you and your baby low on iron, folic acid and other minerals.

It doesn't mean that you shouldn't stop eating chips, cakes and candies. Eat healthy foods but don't start dieting during pregnancy. Due to morning sickness, it is common to lose weight during the first trimester. Nausea diminishes your appetite and vomiting litteraly throws out calories. Your baby gets its calories from the calories stored in your fat. That's why many plus-size women do lose weight during pregnancy without dieting. 

Don't Get Obese During Pregnancy

Avoid becoming overweight during your pregnancy. Exercise and healthy foods have positive impact on your pregnancy and on your stomach.

Pregnant women who exercise have less back pain, more energy and a healthier baby. So when you're expecting, keep moving. Gentle activities like walking, swimming or cycling are safe. They are also ideal to combat acid reflux.  If you want to stay indoor, you can perform specific exercises to keep in shape. 

If you need help planning your pregnancy meals, seek out a registered dietitian

Elevate Bed Wedge

Put bricks under the headstock of your bed. Use gravity as a helping force to keep your stomach acid down. If you want a more professional solution, opt for an acid reflux wedge pillow.

Wear Loose Fitting Clothing

Wearing tight clothing is only going to put more pressure on your already crammed abdomen and worsens acid reflux.  Opt for the loose-fitting maternity wear with an elastic band around your waist.

Medication For Acid Reflux During Pregnancy?

If you were on proton pump inhibitors like nexiam, before you became pregnant, you will need to go see your doctor to decide if you can safely continue taking them. The New England Journal of Medicine published a large study that concluded there was no significant increase in risk of major birth defects from proton pump inhibitors. So if you do need to take them, don't be too worried. 

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