One of the most common pregnancy – related discomforts is heartburn. About half of all pregnant women experience heartburn to some degree during their pregnancies. I experienced it rather severely during both pregnancies. In fact, when I was pregnant with Blake (who is now almost five months old), I started having heartburn a few weeks before I even suspected that I was pregnant. One day, I found myself reaching for the Tums that I had not used since my first pregnancy. I blamed it on the pepperoni pizza that I had just eaten, and I figured that all of the heartburn that I experienced that week was because I was on vacation and eating foods that were different than what I would normally eat at home.
Pregnant women experience heartburn for a few reasons, one of which is fairly obvious, especially towards the end of pregnancy. As your baby grows and your uterus expands, it exerts pressure in all directions including upwards towards your stomach and esophagus. What you can not see is that those lovely pregnancy hormones that have been doing so many other things to your body and mind are also relaxing the muscle at the top of your stomach which keeps stomach acid down where it belongs. Ouch!
One way to manage heartburn is to avoid foods which can aggravate it. Things like spicy food, tomatoes and other acidic foods, coffee, fried or greasy food, carbonated drinks, caffeine, and citrus are among the chief culprits. Avoiding these foods may help, but it is often not enough to ease the pain. Over the counter antacids like Tums are generally safe to use while pregnant, but do not begin using them without talking to your prenatal care provider first to see whether they are recommended for you and whether your prenatal care provider has any specific instructions for using them. Sometimes, you may be offered the option of a prescription heartburn medication, which may or may not be effective. I took one for a couple of weeks during my first pregnancy and found it to be no more effective than Tums, so I stopped taking it in the interest of avoiding as many medications as I possibly could. If you suffer from pregnancy related heartburn, take comfort in knowing that in most cases, it magically vanishes as soon as your baby is born. With both pregnancies I had very bad heartburn, and each time it disappeared within hours of giving birth.
Photo by ppdigital on morguefile.com.