Help, I Have Heartburn
Indigestion and heartburn are common symptoms of pregnancy in the later months due to hormone changes and the pressure of your growing baby on your stomach.
Heartburn is characterised by a strong burning sensation in the stomach and throat area, sometimes with acid rising from the stomach into the mouth, and can be quite uncomfortable. You may be more aware of it if you lie down, cough or lift heavy objects.
Heartburn occurs for two reasons: progesterone relaxes the muscle which normally keeps acid in the stomach, and the pressure on the stomach is increased by the growing uterus or womb. Both these effects facilitate the passage of acid into your gullet or oesophagus, which causes heartburn. Don't worry, there are ways you may be able to relieve or prevent the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn.
Foods to avoid
Eating healthily during your pregnancy will help to reduce heartburn, however there are often particular foods that can aggravate the heartburn symptoms – particularly spicy, overly rich, fried or fatty foods. Similarly, avoid coffee, fizzy drinks and any alcohol as these can exacerbate the burning sensation.
Change your mealtimes
Eating little, but often – for example, five to six small, regular meals rather than three large ones – will help you avoid overfilling. Sitting up straight when eating can also help to take the pressure off your stomach. After eating, avoid any strenuous activity and give yourself a few hours after eating or drinking before going to bed to avoid lying down on a full stomach.
Get comfy in bed
Often, heartburn and indigestion can feel worse at night when you are trying to get comfy in bed. Firstly, ensure that you follow the tip above and don't go to bed too soon after eating. One tip many moms find works is to have a milky drink before bed to help neutralise the acid in your stomach. You could also try using an extra pillow or cushion to prop yourself up when sleeping.
Speak to the experts
If you are getting no relief, you may want to take the next step and speak to your pharmacist about safe over-the-counter remedies and medicines you can take while pregnant which will alleviate the heartburn and indigestion. Similarly, some alternative therapies, such as acupuncture or reflexology, may be able to help ease your discomfort – although it is always important to speak to your practitioner and ensure that any practice undertaken is safe during pregnancy.
If your heartburn continues without relief or becomes more severe, contact your GP for further advice.