Along with all the excitement and happy preparation, acid reflux during early pregnancy is extremely common. This uncomfortable condition is characterized by a burning sensation in the back of the throat or the chest, and sometimes accompanied by minor chest pains. Here we’ll take a look at the most common causes of acid reflux during early pregnancy, as well as some easy steps for preventing or reducing it.
Why Does Acid Reflux Occur?
Some unlucky people experience heartburn regularly, and see a sharp increase especially during pregnancy. Others first experience acid reflux during early pregnancy, specifically in the first trimester. The reasons for this have to do with hormones. The lower esophageal sphincter is a seal which keeps stomach acid where it belongs…in the stomach. This seal can be weakened by many different factors. During pregnancy, increases and decreases in certain hormones can weaken the seal, or add to the damage that’s already been done. In either case, the result is either new or worsened heartburn.
How Can It Be Relieved?
Unfortunately, some acid reflux during early pregnancy must be dealt with. However, in many cases, there are steps you can take to relieve the symptoms partially or entirely.
Watching what you eat is a very easy step to take in order to prevent or relieve acid reflux during early pregnancy. Fried, fatty foods, citrus juices and fruits, and anything highly spiced should be avoided. There are many different heartburn triggers, and if cutting out these foods doesn’t bring you relief, research online for more detailed, longer lists. Try cutting out possible triggers one at a time, to isolate which foods are causing your heartburn.
If you smoke, stop now. In addition to being harmful to your baby, the chemicals in cigarette smoke relax the lower esophageal sphincter and can worsen acid reflux during early pregnancy.
For some women, it helps a great deal to sleep with the head and shoulders elevated. There are special pillows made just for this purpose, or you can simply stack some pillows on top of each other. For acid reflux during early pregnancy, this can be especially helpful.
Cut back or eliminate your caffeine habit. In addition to other health concerns, acid reflux during early pregnancy can easily be triggered by your morning coffee. This is because caffeine is another substance which can relax the lower esophageal sphincter.
Although you should always check with your physician before taking any medication while pregnant, many doctors feel that some common antacids are safe for use. Tums is a common brand you may be familiar with. Because every pregnancy is different, however, ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take these medications.
While it’s uncomfortable and annoying, rest assured that pregnancy heartburn doesn’t last forever. If you follow some simple steps, you can greatly reduce the severity of your acid reflux during early pregnancy, and this will allow you to focus more on getting ready for your baby’s arrival!