Many women suffer from both heartburn (acid reflux) and indigestion during pregnancy and it tends to become more common as the pregnancy progresses. In fact, by the third trimester nearly three quarters of pregnant women can suffer from heartburn1.
Causes of heartburn in pregnancy
The two main causes of heartburn in pregnancy are:
1. Hormonal changes during pregnancy
The surge in the hormone progesterone causes muscles to relax. This includes the sphincter (ring of muscle) at the entrance to the stomach. When this relaxes, stomach acids are able to travel back up into the oesophagus (food pipe) causing painful heartburn.2
2. The developing foetus physically putting pressure on your digestive tract
A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for anyone, but when pregnant it is vital. Being mindful of what you eat during your pregnancy to reduce the chances of heartburn. The symptoms of heartburn and indigestion are the same for anyone else who suffers. Heartburn can be painful and leave you feeling uncomfortable.
Here are some tips to help ease indigestion and heartburn during your pregnancy3
Keep your weight in check
There is no need to “eat for two” when pregnant - eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day
- Take your time eating - chew every mouthful slowly, this will help break down the food into smaller pieces which aids digestion
- Avoid spicy, acidic and fatty food as these can aggravate the stomach lining and cause more stomach acid to be produced
- Sit up straight when you eat – avoid lying on the sofa or bed if you can help it
- Loosen clothes or belts that are too tight, try opting for loose-fitting maternity wear
- Don't eat late or on the run – make time for your meals
- Try not to take big gulps of liquid, instead sipping
- If you are prone to night time symptoms prop yourself up slightly in bed
- Cut down on alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks
During pregnancy you will naturally be wary about taking medicines, however you need not put up with the symptoms of heartburn or indigestion. Always talk to your health practitioner before taking any medications to treat heartburn during pregnancy.