Friday, April 15, 2011

Preventing Heartburn During Pregnancy

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Heartburn (acid reflux) is a common complaint during pregnancy and tends to occur more frequently as your pregnancy progresses.

What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy

There are two main reasons why heartburn and, to a lesser extent, indigestion are common during pregnancy. Firstly, increased levels of the hormone progesterone in your body causes muscles to relax. These include the lower oesophageal sphincter at the entrance to the stomach.

When the lower oesophageal sphincter relaxes at inappropriate times, food and stomach acids can reflux back up into your oesophagus and irritate the lining, causing heartburn.

During the latter stages of pregnancy, your growing baby puts pressure on the intestines and the stomach. The pressure on the stomach may also push contents back up into the oesophagus.

Though you may not be able to eliminate heartburn completely, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize your discomfort.

Strategies to Ease Heartburn Symptoms during Pregnancy

The American College of Gastroenterology offers the following tips:

- Wear loose-fitting clothes. Clothes that fit tightly around your waist put pressure on your abdomen and the lower oesophageal sphincter.

- Eat smaller meals. Overfilling the stomach can result in acid reflux and heartburn.

- Don’t lie down after eating. Wait at least 3 hours after eating before going to bed. When you lie down, it’s easier for stomach contents (including acid) to back up into the oesophagus, particularly when you go to bed with a full stomach.

- Raise the head of the bed 4 to 6 inches. This can help reduce acid reflux by decreasing the amount of gastric contents that reach the lower oesophagus.

- Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Abstinence from alcohol and smoking can help reduce reflux symptoms and avoid foetal exposure to potentially harmful substances.

The Zestzfulness Team also recommends that you take your time eating your meals and chew thoroughly.

Caffeine in your coffee, tea, cola can relax the lower oesophageal sphincter and allow acid to reflux back into the oesophagus. You may want to avoid or reduce their intake.

Remember to bend at the knees instead of at the waist. Bending at the waist puts more pressure on your stomach. Sit upright in a comfortable chair rather than slouching.

Antacids like Zellox-II may prove helpful in relieving heartburn problems but you should always check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter remedies while pregnant.

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