One of the common problems and discomforts that pregnant women complain about is acid reflux or heartburn. There are several factors that associate heartburn and pregnancy such as hormonal and bodily changes. It should be understood that even women who never suffered from acid reflux before may experience this symptom even more during pregnancy. The problem usually manifests or starts to get worse during the later stages or third trimester when the baby in the womb develops into full term.
Although some pregnant women experience more severe bouts of acid reflux, some tend to experience very mild symptoms which can be well tolerated or controlled. It should therefore be understood that the severity of heartburn among pregnant women varies to a great extent. Each case is unique from the other. However, having some understanding on why such discomfort occurs during pregnancy may be helpful.
One of the factors that link heartburn and pregnancy is hormonal changes. Increase in the hormonal levels can cause certain changes with the bodily functions. For instance, the LES or lower esophageal sphincter may loosen up at a certain stage during pregnancy which causes the gastric acid to flow upwards into the esophagus or to reflux. The main function of the LES is to prevent the acid in the stomach from flowing up into the esophagus. The LES normally closes when food enters the stomach during digestion. However, due to the changes in the hormones, the normal function of the LES is affected and it becomes loose causing the gastric acid to escape into the esophagus thereby causing the discomfort associated with acid reflux.
Another factor that causes heartburn during pregnancy is the changes in the womans body. As the baby in the womb develops and gets bigger, the womans belly expands as well to accommodate the increasing size of the baby and the increase in amniotic fluid. This can cause some amount of pressure to the esophagus and stomach thereby disrupting the normal digestive process. When this happens, discomfort is experienced by the pregnant woman.
There are several ways to avoid acid reflux or heartburn during pregnancy. One of them is by avoiding the foods that tend to trigger and aggravate the symptoms such as citrus fruits and juices, spicy foods, oily and fried foods as well as processed food products. It is also best to cut down on chocolates and caffeine. Making the right food choices can help in controlling heartburn during pregnancy. It would also be extremely helpful to prepare and cook food the healthy way which means no frying and no oily ingredients.
Eating small but frequent meals throughout the day can also help in achieving efficient digestion. Have light snacks in between meals to avoid hunger pains. It is not advisable to overeat; or to eat a heavy meal as this can put a lot of pressure on the digestive system and trigger heartburn.
Preventing acid reflux or heartburn during pregnancy is possible as long as proper measures are observed. Learning what to do and changing your eating habits can be very beneficial in controlling the symptoms as well as in avoiding the discomfort for a healthier and more comfortably pregnancy.