Heartburn during pregnancy is not uncommon. Although the condition is relatively harmless, it can be distressing for a pregnant woman. Actually heartburn has nothing to do with heart; it is just burning sensation below the breastbone radiating to the lower end of throat. Medical fraternity refers this condition as acid reflux.
Pregnancy gives rise to many changes in body; some changes are physical while some of them you may not be able to see but a pregnant woman may feel them. Heartburn during pregnancy results from changes in hormones as well as due to gradual enlargement of uterus.In early pregnancy when the uterus is still not enlarged, hormonal changes are more responsible for heartburn.
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?
Majority of pregnant women have mild to moderate heartburn. It does not affect their daily life, but severe acid reflux can be quiet distressing for the woman. Pregnancy brings about many hormonal changes in the body. Heartburn especially during first few weeks of pregnancy is caused due to effect of progesterone hormone on the smooth muscles of the lower end of food pipe.
Placenta is a connecting tube between mother and fetus.It passes all nutrition to the growing fetus. Placenta produces progesterone hormone. Progesterone hormone has relaxing effect on smooth muscles of uterus. This hormone also tends to relax the valve which separates food pipe from stomach. As the valve get relaxed, gastric juices and acid moves upwards into the lower end of food pipe (esophagus) causing burning sensation.
Heartburn in later stage of pregnancy occurs due to over-sized uterus. Enlarged uterus puts pressure on the stomach which makes the acid content to seep upwards into the lower end of esophagus as the valve is still relaxed.
Home Remedies For Heartburn During Pregnancy
Although it is not possible to eliminate the problem of heartburn entirely, it can be reduced and resolved with the help of home remedies and lifestyle modification. Following steps will be effective in dealing with the problem.
- During pregnancy women should change her eating habits. She has to avoid all beverages and carbonated drinks. They aggravate heartburn. She should avoid alcohol, cigarette smoking, chocolates, caffeine, too much of acidic foods, spicy and oily food.
- Instead of three large meals, eat small meals at an interval of 2 to 3 hours. Chew the food properly before it enters into the stomach.
- Avoid sleeping soon after meals.
- Keep your head slightly elevated when you sleep. It prevents the gastric content reversing back into the esophagus.
- Avoid tight fitting clothes around the abdomen; instead wear loose fitting cotton garments.
- Soak few almonds at night in a glass of water. Remove the cover and slowly chew the soft almonds. Almonds have effective properties to soothe heartburn.
- Drink cold milk once or two times in a day. It will also provide calcium that is necessary during pregnancy.