Pregnancy can be a magical time filled with joy and anticipation for the arrival of your little bundle of joy. But let's be real - it also comes with a slew of not-so-magical symptoms that can make those nine months feel like an eternity. One such symptom is heartburn, or as we like to call it in the pregnancy community, "the burn." If you're experiencing this fiery sensation in your chest (or throat), don't worry - you're not alone! And if you haven't experienced it yet...just wait.
What Causes The Burn?
The burn occurs when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, which is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. This happens because during pregnancy, hormones relax the muscles in both the uterus and lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which normally prevents food and stomach acid from flowing back up into your throat.
This relaxation allows for more room for baby to grow, but unfortunately also means that there's less pressure on the LES to keep everything where it belongs. Thanks a lot, hormones!
When Does It Start?
For some lucky ladies, heartburn doesn't rear its ugly head until later on in their pregnancies. But for others (like myself), it starts pretty much right away (cue eye roll). It all depends on each individual pregnancy.
Either way though, if you do start experiencing heartburn early on (sorry about that), chances are good that it will only get worse as baby grows bigger and puts even more pressure on everything down below.
How Can You Treat The Burn?
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help alleviate heartburn during pregnancy:
Eat smaller meals throughout the day
Instead of three big meals, try eating six smaller ones so that there's less food in your stomach at any given time.
Avoid trigger foods
Spicy, greasy, or acidic foods can all make heartburn worse. Try to limit or avoid these altogether (sad face).
Stay upright after eating
Gravity is your friend when it comes to keeping food and stomach acid where they belong - in your stomach. So if you can, try to stay sitting up or standing for at least 30 minutes after a meal.
Prop yourself up while sleeping
Elevating the head of your bed by six to eight inches can help keep the acid down at night (hello extra pillows).
Wear loose clothing
Anything that puts pressure on your abdomen can contribute to heartburn, so stick with looser fitting clothes instead of anything too tight around the waistline.
When Should You Talk To Your Doctor?
While occasional heartburn during pregnancy is normal and nothing to worry about,if you're experiencing severe or persistent symptoms, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe medication safe for use during pregnancy that will offer some relief.
The Bottom Line
The burn sucks (let's be real), but it's just one of many things we have deal with as pregnant women (insert eyeroll here). Keep those Tums handy and follow along our tips above for a little relief!