What is heartburn?
Unfortunately heartburn during pregnancy is a very common symptom that can become extremely uncomfortable. Caused by pregnancy hormones, it causes gastric acid stomach to rise into your throat, giving you a burning feeling and a sour taste in your mouth. It’s believed that progesterone is the culprit, as the same way it relaxes uterine muscles, it can affect the muscles in your stomach, allowing the acid in your stomach to escape. It can become more prevalent in late pregnancy, as your baby pushes your internal organs upwards, forcing the contents of your stomach to come out.
When am I going to feel this?
Severe heartburn during pregnancy may start from second trimester, as your baby occupies more and more space in your womb and your internal organs are re-distributed. Regrettably, you may have to put up with until your baby is born, and in fact, symptoms may get worse as it progresses.
Are there any treatments?
There are a few treatments that can provide heartburn relief during pregnancy, depending on what works best for you. Most commonly associated with eating, it can also be triggered by lying down or bending.
The following suggestions may help:
- Avoid rich, high in fat or spicy dishes. Also cut on coffee, alcohol and chocolate.
- Don’t drink with your meals
- When you get heartburn, drink a glass of milk
- Eat small meals frequently
- Stop smoking
- Wear loose clothes and don’t lie down immediately after eating
- Don’t eat a big meal before going to bed
- Sleep with a few pillows under your head
- Talk to your doctor about medications you take, as some may worsen symptoms of heartburn
- Also, ask your doctor about taking over the counter heartburn medication, such as antiacids
Can it be something serious?
Unlikely, but not impossible.It depends on what other symptoms you may have. If you experience an intense pain just below your ribs, contact your doctor as it may be pre-eclampsia. If the pain is on your right side it may indicate a liver problem, severe stomach pain may be a peptic ulcer.
Natural products to alleviate heartburn
Some alternative treatments can provide some help with heartburn, but ask your doctor or midwife before taking any herbal medication:
- Ginger or chamomile tea
- Aromatherapy: a few drops of lemon or orange essential oils mixed with grapeseed oil and massage your chest.
- Acupressure: Exerting pressure of the P6 acunpucture point about 20-30 times at 1-second intervals
- Homeopathy: Consult a registered homeopath. You can try Nux vomica, pulsatilla, Natrummur or Dausticum
- Complementary therapies: Can include osteopathic and chiropractic techniques. Relaxation procedures, such as yoga or tai-chi may also help. Reflexology or shiatsu are other potential alternative, which may be worth trying.
Importantly, ask your doctor before starting any course of herbal or complementary treatments, as it may be contra-indicated for your situation.