When you’re pregnant, your body is undergoing incredible changes every single day – and it’s natural to experience some side-effects as a result. One of the most common sensations that you might experience during pregnancy is heartburn – in fact, it’s estimated that 8 out of 10 women will have heartburn while carrying a child.
What causes heartburn during pregnancy?
In order to figure out how we should treat heartburn during pregnancy, it’s best to look at the root cause. During pregnancy, a woman’s hormones are running riot! The body produces more progesterone to help the muscles relax – but it has the awkward side effect of relaxing the stomach valve that’s intended to keep the acid out of your esophagus. The baby’s steady growth can also force more acid through the valve, causing that tell-tale burning sensation.
So how can you prevent heartburn during pregnancy?
There are lots of different ways you can prevent heartburn during pregnancy – here are just a few:
- Find out what your ‘trigger foods’ are. There are a number of universal trigger foods which cause or exacerbate heartburn: tomatoes, greasy food, citrus fruits, chocolate and coffee, for example. You might also notice that certain other foods you consume during pregnancy can set off a particularly bad bout of heartburn. Try to keep a diary of what you eat, and pinpoint which foods are causing the heartburn, so you can eliminate them.
- Don’t eat anything for a few hours before bed. Lying down provides optimum conditions for acid to leak into your esophagus, especially if you’ve got a full stomach! By keeping your evening meal light, and ensuring you’re not eating within two or three hours of bedtime, you can reduce your risk of nighttime heartburn.
- Aim for a number of smaller meals through the day. Rather than eating the recommended three meals per day, try to aim for five or six smaller meals. Your stomach has less room to accommodate food during pregnancy, so it’s better to eat small meals regularly than to wolf down a huge breakfast, lunch or evening meal.
- Stay hydrated. This is an essential tip for any pregnant woman, not just the ones with heartburn! Sip water throughout the day, rather than gulping down two liters in an hour to try and meet your daily hydration target.
- Buy your maternity clothes early, and wear them often! Tight-fitting clothes can exacerbate heartburn, so try to stick with looser garments that won’t place any undue pressure on your abdomen.
- Antacids are perfectly safe to take during pregnancy, as long as they don’t contain aluminum. Try to opt for those which contain magnesium or calcium – the additional calcium could end up offering extra benefits for both mother and child.