Indigestion during pregnancy is very common. In fact, more than half of all pregnant women suffer from indigestion starting in their second trimester.
Indigestion during pregnancy is caused by several things, but pregnancy hormones are the main cause. These hormones cause the stomach to slow down and take longer to empty. Because of this, your stomach acid comes into contact with the sensitive protective lining of your digestive system.
Heartburn, often being the worst symptom, is caused by a few different things, too. Again, pregnancy hormones cause the muscle at the top of your stomach to relax, which allows stomach acids to splash up into your esophagus.
There’s also more pressure on your stomach from your growing womb pushing up on it, and forcing the stomach acid upwards.
Although a lot of pregnant women will experience indigestion, it’s more likely in women who have experienced indigestion before pregnancy, women who have been pregnant once or more before, and those in their second and third trimesters.
Heartburn actually has nothing to do with your heart, and all to do with your stomach. Heartburn is probably the most annoying symptom of indigestion. It often feels like your insides are on fire, starting in your stomach and sometimes even all the way up into your throat.
Other symptoms include discomfort in your stomach, feeling uncomfortable after eating, stomach pain, burping, nausea, feeling bloated, regurgitation, even vomiting, and of course, having heartburn.
Although it’s pretty much unavoidable to have absolutely no indigestion during pregnancy, there are a few things you can do to lessen the risk. A lot of the time all it takes is a few small diet and lifestyle changes.
Food has a huge impact on whether or not you will experience indigestion during pregnancy. It’s best to avoid foods that are spicy, high in fat, greasy, caffeinated, or have a lot of citrus.
Don’t eat too quickly, instead take your time eating each meal. Also, don’t eat too much at once, but space your food out into smaller portions. And never eat more than a small snack within two hours before bed time. Laying down after a big meal, during the time your stomach would be digesting your food, will cause heartburn.
Try not to drink too much while eating. Drinking a lot, even water, during a meal often increases the risk of indigestion, specifically heartburn. If you have to, only take small sips, otherwise, it’s best to drink before or after a meal.
Use pillows to prop yourself up in bed, keeping your head and shoulders higher than your stomach. This should help prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest.
Tight-fitting clothes can push up on your stomach. This can cause acid to splash upwards, causing heartburn, and make other indigestion symptoms worse. It’s best to wear loose, comfortable clothing, especially around your waist and stomach.
Preventing indigestion is your best chance, but when you find yourself suffering from discomfort and pain caused by indigestion during pregnancy, and diet and lifestyle changes didn’t work, it’s best to seek medical advice from your doctor or midwife.
With their approval, there are medications available to treat indigestion during pregnancy, such as antacids and prescription drugs.
Antacids are usually the most common and are typically okay to take during pregnancy, but ask a doctor or pharmacist first. Antacids work by neutralizing the acid in your stomach.
Acid-suppressing medications are prescribed by doctors, often after trying antacids first. These suppress the acid in your stomach.
As always, speak with your doctor or midwife to get the best advice or medication in order to help prevent or treat indigestion during pregnancy.
Featured photo credit: Vanessa Porter via flickr.com