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General Practice 2023

Heartburn in pregnancy: main causes and what to do to relieve

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Heartburn in pregnancy: main causes and what to do to relieve
Heartburn in pregnancy: main causes and what to do to relieve

Heartburn is a burning sensation in the stomach area that can extend to the throat and is common in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, however some women may experience symptoms earlier.

Heartburn in pregnancy is not serious and does not pose a risk to the mother or baby, although it is quite uncomfortable. However, if heartburn is accompanied by other symptoms such as severe pain, pain below the ribs or pain in the upper right side of the belly, it is important to see a doctor, as it can be indicative of more serious conditions that must be treated quickly.

Heartburn in pregnancy is a common situation that can be easily alleviated through changes in eating habits, such as avoiding fried foods, foods rich in pepper or very spicy and avoiding drinking liquids during meals, which should be made in small amounts. To quickly relieve the burning, you can try drinking 1 glass of milk, preferably skimmed, as the fat in whole milk takes longer in the stomach and may not help.


Main causes

Heartburn in pregnancy usually appears in the second and third trimester of pregnancy due to the increased production of the hormone progesterone, which allows the muscles of the uterus to relax to allow it to grow and support the baby.

On the other hand, the increase in progesterone promotes a decrease in intestinal flow and relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, which is the muscle responsible for closing the division between the stomach and esophagus, which ends up allowing gastric acid to return to the esophagus and throat more easily, resulting in the symptoms of heartburn.

In addition, with the growth of the baby, the organs end up with less space in the abdomen and the stomach is compressed upwards, which also facilitates the return of food and gastric juice and, consequently, the appearance of heartburn symptoms.

What to do

Although heartburn is a typical condition of pregnancy, there are some precautions that help to combat this problem:

  • Sitting for at least 30 minutes after eating, avoiding lying down;
  • Do not wear tight clothing on your stomach and stomach;
  • Place a 10 cm wedge at the head of the bed, to prevent the body from lying completely horizontal, favoring reflux and heartburn;
  • Do not smoke and avoid exposure to cigarettes;

In general, heartburn goes away after childbirth, as the stomach has more space in the abdomen and female hormones return to normal. However, women who gained a lot of weight during pregnancy may still have symptoms of heartburn for up to 1 year after giving birth. In addition, heartburn can be a symptom of reflux in pregnancy, which should be treated as recommended by your doctor.

Remedies for heartburn in pregnancy

In most cases, heartburn improves with changes in diet and lifestyle, but in cases of constant and severe heartburn, the doctor may recommend magnesium or calcium-based remedies, such as Bisurada Magnesia or Milk of Magnesia, or remedies like Mylanta Plus, for example. However, it is important to remember that any medication should only be taken under medical supervision, as it can be harmful to the baby's development.

Other options are home remedies that relieve heartburn, such as peeling a small piece of potato and eating it raw. Other options include eating 1 unpeeled apple, a piece of bread or 1 cream cracker because they help push gastric contents back into the stomach, fighting heartburn naturally. Check out some options for safe home remedies in pregnancy.

How to eat

To relieve gastritis in pregnancy, it is important to be careful with food, such as:

  • Eat small meals, as it prevents the stomach from becoming too full, facilitating the return of food and gastric juice to the esophagus;
  • Do not drink liquids with meals, as the liquid makes the stomach fuller and distended, making it difficult to close the esophageal sphincter, which is the muscle responsible for preventing acid from returning stomach to the throat. Thus, you should prefer to ingest liquids 30 minutes before or after meals, so that a large accumulation in the stomach does not occur;
  • Avoid foods rich in caffeine, as this substance stimulates gastric movement, favoring the release of gastric juice and stomach movement, which can trigger a burning sensation heartburn, especially when stomach is previously empty;
  • Avoiding spicy foods such as pepper, mustard and diced spices can cause stomach irritation and inflammation, worsening heartburn symptoms;
  • Consume natural yogurt, vegetable and whole grains and fruits, as they improve digestion and intestinal flora, reducing the risk of having heartburn.

In addition, it is recommended to avoid eating 2 hours before bedtime, as this way you can ensure that digestion has taken place correctly. This measure is important because in the lying position it is easier for food to return towards the esophagus, causing heartburn. It is also important that, after meals, the woman is seated, with the back straight, so that the belly does not press the stomach and force the food towards the esophagus.

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