Pregnancy Digestion Remedies
Many women experience heartburn for the first time while pregnant.1 With all of the changes occurring in your body, heartburn might feel like an additional challenge that is tough to navigate. Here, we unpack a few reasons why you may be experiencing certain symptoms and how to help digestion during pregnancy. Be sure to also speak to your doctor if you are experiencing heartburn and want to learn more.
There are two main reasons why being pregnant can cause heartburn. The first has to do with the body's increasing hormone levels.1,2,3 These hormones act as muscle relaxants that helps prepare your body for childbirth.
The downside? An increase in hormones may also relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—the valve responsible for keeping stomach acid from moving up into the esophagus where it doesn't belong.1,2 If the LES is relaxed, the acid in your stomach can push up (reflux) into your esophagus. This acid may irritate your esophagus, causing heartburn.
The second cause of heartburn in pregnant women develops as the pregnancy progresses.1,2,3 Babies grow at an incredible rate. As they do, their increasing size can put pressure on your stomach. Often, this increased pressure can push the acid in your stomach up past the LES and back into your esophagus, causing heartburn.1,2 Luckily, the heartburn will likely stop after giving birth.1
Appropriate Pregnancy Digestion Remedies
- Lifestyle and diet management: Altering your diet or adjusting your lifestyle should be the first thing you try when looking to manage your heartburn during pregnancy. From changing your sleeping position to altering your diet, there are many ways to help alleviate pain.1,2,3
- Antacids: Antacids are an option for heartburn relief during pregnancy when used as directed.1,2,3 You should check with your doctor about appropriate antacid options and use, if you experience heartburn during pregnancy. In fact, for up to 50 percent of pregnant women, an antacid is all they need to ease heartburn symptoms. However, pregnant women should talk to a doctor or pharmacist about the need to avoid antacids containing sodium bicarbonate.
While antacids have been used in pregnancy, there are other treatments for heartburn that may not be appropriate during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, you should speak to your doctor prior to using heartburn treatments, such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). When in doubt, talk to your doctor about the right heartburn relief treatments for you.
- Pregnancy and Heartburn. University of Rochester Medical Center. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=134&ContentID=10.
- Heartburn in pregnancy. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562453/.
- Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/indigestion-and-heartburn/.