Heartburn During Pregnancy

Many women say heartburn during their pregnancy was their biggest challenge. The searing pain of heartburn can put a damper on an otherwise happy and exciting time.

That fiery sensation known as heartburn happens when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle responsible for keeping stomach contents in their place, begins to relax or leak allowing stomach acids to flow upward into the esophagus. There are a couple of reasons for increased heartburn during pregnancy: 1. the hormone "relaxin" while busy limbering up your joints and connective tissue for an easier delivery--slows your digestion so food stays in your stomach longer triggering increased acid production. 2. as baby grows this creates pressure on both the stomach and the LES, increasing the odds of acids being pushed up into the esophagus.

That was the bad news, but there are things you can do to relieve the pain:

1. Eat less and more often.
2. Eliminate trigger foods - Identify the foods that intensify your heartburn and banish them from your diet
3. Focus on fluids - food high in liquid content like soups, yogurt and smoothies move through your stomach more quickly unlike more solid foods that sit in your stomach longer
4. Don't eat anything before bedtime and elevate your head and shoulders 6-8 inches above your stomach (try using pillows or putting books under the head of your bed)
5. Check with your doctor first but most OB's allow the use Tums or Rolaids in moderation.


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