What Helps to Manage the Pregnancy Heartburn?
Leela wakes up every morning with a burning sensation in her chest. She just can’t figure out why this is happening or how to get rid of it. Having any medicine is not an option because she is pregnant.
Yes, heartburn is a very common problem of pregnancy. It happens to most of the pregnant population and hampers the quality of life. Let us try and understand the root cause of this problem and ways to manage it.
To manage this issue, first, we need to understand why this happens. Generally, when we eat, the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid to digest the food. There is a lid like structure in between the food pipe and the stomach which allows the food and acid to only go towards the intestine but prevents them from going upwards. In the case of pregnancy, the baby that is growing in the mother’s womb puts pressure on the mother’s stomach, and this in turn pushes the acid back into the food pipe (oesophagus), thus causing heartburn. This is generally seen in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Ways to manage heartburn
- Eat small and frequent meals in a day: This shall help in digesting the food better and also helps the food to move slowly towards the intestine.
- Wait for an hour after eating to lie down: Lying flat immediately after meals may make the acid come back up to the oesophagus. So, let the food move down, and then lie down in case you feel tired.
- Wear loose clothes: Tight clothes can make digestion difficult and increase the chances of heartburn. So, wear loose and comfortable clothes.
- Avoid spicy, greasy and fatty foods: Too many fatty foods mean longer digestion period, more acid secretion and the food has to stay in the stomach for longer. So, try to eat easily digestible foods.
- Drink adequate water: Water can flush off the extra acid that remains in the stomach post digestion. Therefore, make sure you drink enough water throughout the day to flush off the excess acid and the toxins from the body. However, it is important to know that drinking water immediately after meals is not a great idea as it can dilute the digestive juices and the acid which are important for digestion. So, always maintain a gap of 30 minutes before and after the meals to drink water.
- Sleep on an incline: While sleeping, use an extra pillow or a wedge to keep the head elevated. Sleeping like this will prevent the acid from coming back.
- Maintain a proper posture: Try to sit up straight and walk with your shoulders back to give your stomach more room and to keep the oesophagus in an upright position.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol is a complete “no no” during pregnancy. Growth and central nervous system defects may occur due to alcohol intake. It can also cause acid reflux.
- Chew cardamom: Cardamom contains chemicals that are known to increase the movement of food through the intestine. So, put some cardamom seeds into your mouth to get some relief from this reflux.
- Drink lemon water: Drinking lemon water after 30 – 45 minutes of the meal helps to neutralize the excess acid, and thus prevents acid reflux and heartburn.
- Look out for triggers and eliminate them: Check if any specific food doesn’t suit you. This can also cause heartburn issues. Avoid and eliminate such foods from your diet for now.
- Eat slowly and chew every bite thoroughly: This shall ensure mindful eating and produce good amounts of digestive enzymes and give the body enough time to move the food through the food pipe.
- Manage your stress well through meditation and affirmations:Gut has a direct relation with the brain as the vagus nerve connects both of them together. So, in case you are stressed, the gut also acts badly and causes acidity, indigestion and heartburn. Therefore, meditate and practice affirmations with visualization. This will surely help in keeping the mind healthy and in turn reduce the symptoms. Try to rest and use meditation, mild exercise, music or other techniques to help relax the body.
- Deep breathing before meals: This is a fantastic way to disconnect with the world and plunge into the rest and digest mode of the nervous system. Doing this regularly shall ensure mindful eating, slow eating, and then, less heartburn.
Remember that this is a phase of your life where you are about to bring a beautiful life to the world. Pregnancy-induced heartburn is not a serious issue and it will generally disappear after the birth of the baby. So, follow the tips mentioned above and fight this gastric symptom properly.