Heartburn, Acid Reflux, And GERD During Pregnancy

Acid Reflux (or heartburn) during pregnancy, while uncomfortable, is actually quite common. The cause of heartburn (also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) during pregnancy is more complicated than in the non-pregnant state. The basic cause of heartburn – reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus – is the same. The lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus that normally prevents acid from refluxing) is weak in pregnancy. This probably is an effect of the high levels of estrogens and progesterones that are a normal part of pregnancy. This weakness resolves after delivery.

Acid reflux is often referred to as heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is caused due to the stomach acids getting pushed into the esophagus, which results in burning sensation in the chest region, abdominal pain and discomfort. In pregnant women, the chances of this gastrointestinal problem increases site manifold. This is because, due to the weight gain, an additional amount of pressure is exerted on the abdomen which tends to push the contents of stomach into the esophagus. Several over-the-counter medicines that can provide relief from the GERD symptoms. However, it is always advisable to opt for natural remedies.

In general, the likelihood of having any symptoms of heartburn or regurgitation increases as pregnancy continues. Knowing which symptoms you have is important when talking about prevention and treatment. For example, according to one study , 45.5 percent of pregnant women studied had GERD, 13.5 percent had regurgitation alone, 19.3 percent had heartburn alone, and 12.8 percent had both heartburn and regurgitation. Women may also have a difficult time distinguishing the difference between GERD and symptoms of pregnancy, like morning sickness , particularly in the first trimester.

During pregnancy, acid reflux cannot be prevented. However, you can check the intensity of its symptoms by following a GERD diet. To curb acid reflux, strictly avoid spicy food, fried food, fatty food, and food items which are heavily seasoned. You also have to stay away from chocolates, tomato-based products like ketchup, citrus fruits, mustard, mints, etc. Do not take heavy meals. Rather, keep the size of your meals small and eat a number of times throughout the day. While eating, chew your food properly. Drink plenty of fluid, but not along with the meals. Avoid caffeine beverages like tea, coffee, cola, etc. Stop consumption of alcohol completely. Have dinner a few hours before you retire for the day. While sleeping, make sure that the head of the bed is raised 6-8 inches higher than the rest of the body. In this way, gravity will not let the stomach acids to rise into the esophagus.

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