In our stomach, a series of really strong acids are secreted normally. They are known as gastric acids, and their main purpose is to decompose food to later allow digestion. These acids tend to be very corrosive, and do not usually cause problems, until the moment they reflux into the esophagus, causing burning, heartburn and unpleasant pain. During pregnancy both heartburn and heartburn are extremely common, but do you know why? What are their causes, and why are they more common in the second and third trimesters? Is there anything that can be done to alleviate them?
Why acidity and heartburn appear in pregnancy
The truth is that, during pregnancy, the future mother is very inclined to suffer from stomach pain, burning and heartburn, especially in the second half of pregnancy, and even more, throughout the third trimester. Although usually begins from the third month of pregnancy. This is due to progesterone and other pregnancy hormones , which cause the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to tend to relax, and therefore, to close badly.
This causes the gastric emptying to slow down, increasing the risk of the stomach contents returning. Due to this, it is very common that during pregnancy the content of the stomach can flow back up into the esophagus, causing in turn the various symptoms and discomfort so associated with this disorder. And what is the esophagus? It basically consists of the muscular duct that connects the pharynx with our stomach, and is intended to carry both food and liquids ingested precisely from the mouth to the stomach.
On the other hand, the main reason why the heartburn It is usually more common in the second half of pregnancy and in the third trimester it is due to the fact that the hormonal effect on the digestive sphincters is even greater, which adds to the effect caused by the lack of space due to the large size of the uterus.
Finally, when the stomach contents return and reflux occurs, the acids irritate the area, causing pain, burning and inflammation.
At what time of the day is it more common to appear?
While the typical nausea of pregnancy is usually more common in the morning, before getting out of bed, with acidity and heartburn the opposite occurs: It is more common to appear especially at night when you lie down , hence it is very important (as we will see in the section devoted to it) to dine soon and especially light foods, since it will be of great help when it comes to preventing its uncomfortable appearance.
It's a myth: If you have heartburn during pregnancy it does not mean that the baby will be born with a lot of hair. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. The real cause? The action of progesterone and other hormones on the smooth muscles, favoring reflux when relaxing.
What to do to prevent it?
Although there are times that can not be prevented, the truth is that following some basic guidelines such as those proposed below can be very useful, being in fact very helpful:
- Dinner early and little. It is essential to try to dine sooner and also dine in small quantities, opting for lighter foods. This means that you should avoid overeating and fill yourself up to exhaustion, while you must advance the dinner time.
- Do not go to bed immediately after having eaten. Whether at night, or after lunch, it is advisable to wait at least 2 hours until bedtime. The reason is obvious: being recumbent or lying down favors the appearance of reflux.
- Avoid foods that increase acidity or delay gastric emptying. If you suffer from burning and heartburn you should avoid certain foods that may worsen the symptoms, or increase the risk of suffering it. This is the case of chocolate (yes, chocolate), citrus fruits (such as oranges, tangerines, lemons and grapefruit), tomato sauce, caffeine, teína, carbonated drinks and certain condiments (such as pepper, any herb) spicy and vinegar). In addition, fatty foods (such as fried foods or stews with excess fat) should also be reduced.
- Increase fluid intake. It is advisable to drink plenty of water throughout the day, outside meals. Also, in order not to increase the volume of the stomach, it is advisable not to drink any liquid while you eat.
Can you take antacids during pregnancy?
If you suffer from stomach acidity in pregnancy and have not managed to reduce your symptoms or prevent it, many experts advise asking the doctor about the risks of taking antacids during pregnancy, which help to neutralize the acid present in the stomach.
The truth is that, under proper medical supervision, antacids can be safe during pregnancy, but with nuances: antacids containing aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate should be avoided , in addition to type drugs Alka seltzer , what contain aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or salicylate) or sodium bicarbonate , for its excess of sodium.
Basically, those that contain magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide or calcium carbonate , because they are the fastest, most effective and safest.
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- Body C, Christie JA. Gastrointestinal Diseases in Pregnancy: Nausea, Vomiting, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Constipation, and Diarrhea. Gastroenterol Clin North Am . 2016 Jun; 45 (2): 267-83. doi: 10.1016 / j.gtc.2016.02.005.
- Frawley J, Hall H, Adams J, Sibbritt D. Health care utilization of women who experience pregnancy-related reflux, nausea and / or vomiting. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med . 2017 Aug; 30 (16): 1938-1943. doi: 10.1080 / 14767058.2016.1232711.