The Truth Behind Heartburn & Indigestion When Pregnant

The Truth Behind Heartburn & Indigestion When Pregnant

When a woman becomes pregnant, heartburn and indigestion can suddenly become a problem for her, even if she has never experienced it before. Did you know that indigestion is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy with 80% of women experiencing it[1]?

There are many things that could be causing the issue to arise, such as hormonal changes early on in the pregnancy which can affect how different foods are tolerated in the body and how digestive muscles work or the physical pressure of the baby pushing on your stomach and intestines later on in the pregnancy.[2] Whilst it is very common and usually harmless to experience these symptoms, they can be painful and make being pregnant that much harder on your body.

Here we will talk though a few simple lifestyle changes that can have big effect and help ease the painful symptoms of heartburn and indigestion during pregnancy.

Allow Food to Digest

It is very important to allow your body time to properly digest your food when trying to avoid heartburn and indigestion. With that in mind, you should allow yourself two to four hours after eating before you lay down. Laying in a horizontal position can make digestion very difficult for your body and not gravity pulling your stomach acid back down will make it easier for it to rise back up into the oesophagus.

Another thing to think about when going to bed is placing something underneath your mattress, or adding another pillow, which will keep your upper body elevated whilst you sleep. Again, this will make it harder for any stomach acid to rise into your oesophagus whilst you sleep, causing that burning pain in your chest.

Find and Eliminate Trigger Foods

Different foods affect different people so it is important to work out what foods trigger your heartburn and ingestion symptoms. Also it’s important to remember that foods that might have been fine in the past might now cause issues. To work out what affects you, try keeping a food diary and noting down any foods or drinks that make you feel ill. Common problem foods problems are chocolate, fruit juices, caffeine or spicy, rich or fatty foods.

Sitting Up Straight

Sitting up with your back straight when you are eating and for another half an hour afterwards, can be a simple and easy way to avoid indigestion when you are pregnant as sitting in this position will take pressure off of your stomach – as long, of course, as this is comfortable for you and you have enough support for your back.

Avoid Bending Over When Possible

Of course you may need to bend over to pick something up from time to time, as long as it is safe and comfortable for you to do so, but where possible try to just bend your knees rather than bending down from your waist. Bending at this point will make indigestion worse as it puts even more pressure on your stomach. [3]

Wear Loose Fitting Clothing

Apart from being more comfortable whilst you are pregnant, loose fitting clothing can affect your heartburn and indigestion symptom for the better. Tight clothes, especially around the waistband can put pressure on your stomach so maternity wear can be great to help reduce symptoms.

Take Gaviscon

If some of these lifestyle changes still aren’t helping, you could try an over the counter option. Some of Gaviscon's products are perfectly safe when you are pregnant and a very effective way to combat the pain of heartburn and indigestion. Be sure that you check the label first to make sure it is pregnancy friendly option. Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any-medicine in pregnancy.

Gaviscon works as the alginates in the formula create a barrier over the stomach acid to stop it rising up into the oesophagus and causing pain, this is usually fine for pregnant women as it means that they formula doesn’t need to be absorbed into the bloodstream for it to work.

If your heartburn continues to persist or you are worried about it, you may want to book in an appointment with a GP or midwife.

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[1] http://www.motherandbaby.co.uk/lifestyle-and-celebs/food/healthy-eating-tips-and-advice/5-ways-to-beat-pregnancy-indigestion

[2] http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/heartburn-during-pregnancy

[3] http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a247/indigestion-in-pregnancy