Heartburn during pregnancy is common: Approximately every second pregnant woman suffers from it. Especially towards the end of pregnancy, the harmless but sometimes extremely unpleasant burning pain occurs in the stomach area. Read here what promotes heartburn during pregnancy and what you can do about it.
Why is heartburn so common during pregnancy?
Heartburn occurs when acidic gastric fluid rises into the esophagus. This reflux, also called reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD), is possible when the sphincter muscle between the stomach and the esophagus no longer functions properly.
During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone loosens the smooth muscles. This is primarily intended to prevent unwanted contractions of the uterine muscles. Progesterone also causes the smooth muscles in other parts of the body to slacken, including the muscle ring between the stomach and the oesophagus. This circumstance and the fact that the stomach empties more slowly during pregnancy favour reflux. In addition, as pregnancy progresses, the growing uterus pushes upwards against the intestine and stomach, thus facilitating the rise of the acid. A strong kick by the baby can also lead to heartburn.
Pregnancy: How does heartburn manifest itself?
Pregnant women who suffer from heartburn usually have a feeling of fullness with belching after eating. The discomfort increases when lying down, bending down and under exertion and becomes more frequent as the pregnancy progresses.
Depending on the extent to which the acid stomach contents irritate the sensitive mucous membrane of the oesophagus, heartburn is noticeable to varying degrees during pregnancy. The following symptoms are possible:
- Air burping
- reflux of stomach contents into the mouth
- Pressure in the upper abdomen, feeling of fullness
- burning in the stomach area, throat, pharynx
- sore throat
- chronic cough
- hoarseness, husky voice
- swallowing difficulties
- nausea or vomiting
Heartburn during pregnancy: general measures
Even simple measures can help to prevent or at least limit the backflow of gastric fluid:
- wear comfortable and wide clothing that does not constrict the stomach (no belts)
- do not lie down immediately after meals
- do not eat for about two hours before going to bed
- sleep with a slightly raised torso
- provide regular exercise and fresh air
- no smoking
Heartburn during pregnancy: adapting eating habits
Several smaller meals spread over the day (instead of a few large ones), chew every bite well and drink as little as possible with food – these measures reduce heartburn. Pregnant women should also know which foods promote and inhibit the formation of stomach acid:
Better to avoid heartburn during pregnancy
Some foods intensify acid formation and thus heartburn. During pregnancy, affected women should therefore limit the consumption of acid-producing or acid-containing foods and beverages:
- Citrus fruits
- fatty and spicy food
- Sweets, chocolate
- coffee, black tea
- carbonated beverages
Cheap meals for heartburn in pregnancy
Certain foods bind gastric acid and relieve heartburn during pregnancy. Therefore, if you have any complaints, use more foods such as
- white bread
- oat flakes
- milk, condensed milk
- almonds, hazelnuts
- green vegetables
Medicines for heartburn during pregnancy
If all the measures mentioned so far do not help, heartburn during pregnancy can also be treated with medication. However, pregnant women should only take preparations that bind gastric acid. These include certain minerals such as calcium, aluminium and magnesium. However, care should be taken with drugs that inhibit acid formation or accelerate gastric emptying: In this case, the doctor should first weigh the benefits against the risks of using the product during pregnancy.
Therefore, consult your doctor if you want to get rid of heartburn during pregnancy with medication.
When is heartburn pathological?
For many sufferers it is not always easy to distinguish between mild and pathological symptoms. No wonder, because both the symptoms themselves and the severity of the symptoms can vary greatly. However, if the reflux of stomach contents causes disturbing symptoms or complications, there is probably a gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). A distinction is made between 2 forms: Non-Erosive Reflux Disease (NERD) is a disease that occurs largely without damage to the esophagus. The erosive form (Erosive Reflux Disease, ERD) is characterized by clearly visible inflammations of the esophagus.
The symptoms of GERD vary from person to person and the perception of pain varies from person to person. Therefore, the duration of the symptoms or the severity of the pain do not say anything about whether or not there is an inflammation of the oesophagus. Some people experience only slight pain despite severe inflammations in the esophagus. Conversely, sensitive people already suffer from severe impairments, although the esophagus is only slightly irritated.
Regardless of the severity of the symptoms, the treatment of heartburn is important. In the long term, this can cause damage to the esophagus. For example, an irritation quickly develops into an inflammation of the esophagus. Long-term damage, such as ulcers, is also possible. To prevent such long-term damage from occurring in the first place, you should do something about the occasional heartburn. For good and fast effective heartburn remedies visit https://fachportal-gesundheit.de/apfelessig-altes-haus-und-heilmittel/.