Heartburn During Pregnancy: Causes, Treatment, Prevention

The basic cause of heartburn – reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus – is the same. The lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus that normally prevents acid from refluxing) is weak in pregnancy. This probably is an effect of the high levels of estrogens and progesterones that are a normal part of pregnancy.

They work by coating the lining of the esophagus and stomach and neutralizing stomach acid. Heartburn medicines called H2-blockers work by reducing the amount of acid made by your stomach. Although most of these are considered safe in pregnancy, as with all medicines, these should be avoided in the first trimester.

Food cravings and aversions. Although you may not want a bowl of mint chip ice cream topped with dill pickles, as the old stereotype goes, your tastes can change while you’re pregnant.

This is a tight circular band of muscle at the top of the stomach. This allows partially digested food and stomach acids to backflow, or reflux, into the esophagus. In addition, progesterone also slows the digestive process. This keeps food in the stomach longer.

Pregnant women with GERD present similarly to individuals in the general population; heartburn and regurgitation are the cardinal symptoms. The clinical evaluation consists of a thorough patient history and physical examination; diagnostic studies are rarely needed. Endoscopy may be indicated in patients with complications of GERD, and 24-hour ambulatory pH studies can be useful in those with atypical presentations (eg, cough, wheezing, sore throat) and refractory symptoms. The prognosis for the mother and child is generally good.

Heartburn is so common in pregnancy that it’s most likely to be the reason for your discomfort. But it’s worth knowing about another more serious, but much rarer, cause of pain.

Symptoms of early pregnancy include missed periods, nausea and vomiting, breast changes, fatigue and frequent urination. Pregnant women with cholelithiasis may present with right upper quadrant or epigastric pain, fever, vomiting, jaundice, tenderness in the right upper quadrant that may be difficult to elicit because of an enlarged uterus, and/or pancreatitis.

Diet, Food & Fitness

To prevent heartburn, eat small, frequent meals and avoid fried foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, and spicy or fried foods. Heartburn and related issues like gas and bloating during pregnancy usually start in the second or third trimester, but it can be sooner for some women. The discomfort will probably come and go until your baby is born, but in most cases heartburn is no longer a problem after delivery. Heartburn (also called acid indigestion or acid reflux) is a burning sensation that often extends from the bottom of the breastbone to the lower throat. Many women experience heartburn for the first time during pregnancy, and although it’s common and generally harmless, it can be quite uncomfortable.

However, these symptoms may be caused by other factors and do not necessarily mean that you are pregnant, so if you suspect you are pregnant take a home pregnancy test and see your GP. Cholecystectomy is indicated in the presence of persistent or recurrent symptoms, significant nutritional compromise, and weight loss. This procedure is required in less than 0.1% of cases. The second trimester is the best period for surgery in affected pregnant women.

Fortunately, however, heart attacks among pregnant women are still very rare, although the rate has gone up slightly in recent years. In addition, pregnancy itself can increase a womans risk of heart attack 3- to 4- fold, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Well, duh, of course a missed period is an early sign of pregnancy. For many women who haven’t been pregnant before, this is usually the first symptom they notice, explains Nordahl. But hindsight is often 20/20.

During the first trimester, you should gain about 3 to 6 pounds (your doctor may recommend that you adjust your weight gain up or down if you started your pregnancy underweight or overweight). Although you’re carrying an extra person, don’t go by the adage of “eating for two.” You only need about an extra 150 calories a day during your first trimester.

As the uterus takes over, it doesn’t leave much room for the stomach, and all that pressure can push the stomach up, causing stomach acid to leak into the esophagus. You already know that pregnancy brings with it a whole slew of hormones that are raging through your body in order to facilitate the growth and development of your baby. Progesterone, a hormone that is necessary for implantation of a fertilized egg and for maintaining pregnancy, is also responsible for that heartburn you’re experiencing.

stomach acidity early pregnancy

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