Most women experience morning sickness till the 13th pregnancy week because it’s considered one of the pregnancy symptoms. One of its consequences is heartburn. Sometimes a woman consults a gastroenterologist about the sensation of severe burning in her stomach only to find out she is pregnant during an examination. A mother-to-be and her future baby are not threatened by heartburn early pregnancy, and the unpleasant symptoms will vanish after some helpful ways of treatment and a diet.
Heartburn early pregnancy: the causes
After the fertilization of the egg happens, the female body starts to produce increased amounts of progesterone. This hormone prevents new egg cells from maturing, contributes to the growth of the endometrium where the fertilized egg implants and begins to develop. Another important function of progesterone is the relaxation of smooth muscles of the uterus – that helps to prevent a miscarriage. At the same time, the muscle separating the stomach from the intestine also relaxes. As a norm, food is gradually getting from the esophagus to the stomach, and then in the intestine, but after the increase in progesterone the so-called “reflux”, or reverse movement of food in the gastrointestinal tract, is possible. The acid contained in the stomach and necessary for the digestion of food gets onto the walls of the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Morning sickness during early pregnancy is sometimes accompanied by severe vomiting. The vomit irritates the mucous membrane of the esophagus, which leads to heartburn early pregnancy as well. The sensation of burning is often followed by burping (involuntary release of gas from the stomach) and nausea.
Factors triggering heartburn early pregnancy
Heartburn early pregnancy is not a necessary complication. About 20% of mothers-to-be don’t experience it. Its occurrence depends on the following factors:
- The specifics of the woman’s organism (stomach acidity, esophagus sensitivity;
- The condition of the gastrointestinal tract (anatomy of the digestive organs, the presence of diseases);
- Eating schedule and diet.
Sour and spicy food, carbonated drinks, coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes induce heartburn. All these irritants cause the increased stomach acid production. Tight clothing that presses on the stomach also triggers heartburn early pregnancy. Sometimes it’s also caused by lying down into a horizontal position after a meal. If you want to avoid unpleasant sensations, you’d better sit or stand for a bit after eating.
Some of the pregnant women complain that the sensation of burning becomes stronger if they are lying on their right side or bending down. It’s not recommended to do exercises and flex your abdominal muscles during pregnancy. Such actions lead to the raised intra-abdominal pressure, and the contents of the stomach can get into the esophagus.
A few medications can also induce heartburn early pregnancy. In the majority of cases, the pregnant woman takes them because still doesn’t know about her condition. To such medication belong, for example, aspirin or dipyrone. Heartburn early pregnancy can bother you as a result of the exacerbation of gastritis which is not a rare case during this period.
How to cope with heartburn early pregnancy?
Before the 13th week of pregnancy, the woman shouldn’t take any medications if possible because drug intake can affect the formation of organs and systems of the fetus. But there are a number of perfectly safe methods that help to stop or reduce heartburn early pregnancy.
Eat in small portions, but more often than you used to. Don’t snack on-the-go and don’t overeat! Chew your food thoroughly.
When you wake up in the morning, you can eat a cracker or a few nuts before getting out of bed. Then don’t get up for a few more minutes. It helps to get rid of heartburn and morning sickness, and then you can have breakfast without any difficulties.
You should have your last meal 2 hours before going to bed. If you are really-really hungry (quite a common occurrence during pregnancy), it’s alright to get some yogurt or cottage cheese. These products are rich in calcium which neutralizes the acid and alleviates heartburn and nausea.
Products that help fight heartburn
Besides dairy products, a great way of coping with morning sickness and heartburn early pregnancy is food rich in proteins (because they reduce the acidity).
Especially beneficial are:
- Lean meat and fish (boiled or baked);
- Carrots, peas, potatoes;
- Durum wheat pasta, rice;
- Oatmeal, buckwheat;
- Green tea, water, fruit beverages of dry fruit;
- Fruit (not too sour or sweet, it’s better to bake apples).
Products that can trigger heartburn
Hot sauces, smoked dishes, salty food can cause heartburn early pregnancy. Carbonated drinks, chocolate, pastries contribute to its development. You can allow yourself a few fruit candies, marshmallows or dried fruit from time to time. Citrus fruit, plums, apples, bananas, tomatoes and other too sweet or sour fruit and vegetables (and also juices) increase gastric acidity.
Don’t drink water during a meal because it considerably increases the risk of heartburn.
A correct pose for sleep
Doctors don’t recommend sleeping on your back during pregnancy. It puts pressure on the vein situated under the uterus which can negatively affect the condition of the fetus. Besides, such a position makes it highly possible for the consumed food to get into the esophagus which results in heartburn. So, you’d better sleep on your side. Your head and shoulders should be slightly above the rest of the body. Prop them up on a pillow.
Tight clothing becomes a contributing factor to heartburn early pregnancy. So, try the items which fit more loosely. You’ll see how much better it feels!
There are medications for treating heartburn during pregnancy safe during early terms. When heartburn early pregnancy is severe, your healthcare provider may prescribe antacids which are not absorbed in the intestine and transferred to the fetus through the placenta. Their action includes:
- Neutralizing gastric acid due to calcium and magnesium;
- Reducing pressure inside of the stomach and the duodenal gut;
- Weakening the reflux;
- Contributing to the secretion of mucus which protects the digestive system from the effects of hyperacidity.
Antacids are antiseptics. They are usually prescribed in complex with a healthy diet. Pregnant women shouldn’t take aluminum-containing medications because this element is accumulated in the bone tissue, negatively affecting the bone structure of the mother and her baby. In addition, such drugs lead to constipation.