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How to Deal with Indigestion, Heartburn & Gas in Pregnancy

Katlyn Joy | 9, April 2013


You were ready for morning sickness, but be prepared for the next wave of tummy troubles in pregnancy - indigestion, heartburn and gas.

When to Expect These Symptoms

Typically, you'll first experience these stomach ailments during your first and second trimesters, but they will reach their zenith in the last trimester when you are already most uncomfortable.

Why You Get These Symptoms in Pregnancy

Blame it on the hormones, again. Progesterone levels rise during pregnancy which causes the muscles in your body to relax including the ones in your digestive system. One problem with this is that the valve encircling the bottom of your esophagus also relaxes, and it will allow the food and digestive acids to back up into your esophagus causing burning and discomfort. Additionally the muscles that push food along the digestive system relax, which slows digestion and leads to bloating, gassiness, and indigestion.

What are the Common Digestive Side Effects During Pregnancy

During pregnancy you can expect some not-so-pleasant side effects. Heartburn includes the burning sensation behind your breastbone, or any sour taste or an upset stomach. You may feel nauseated or even have small episodes of vomiting or "wet burps." You can have bloating that leads to rude but unavoidable belches or passing of gas.

What Makes Digestive Problems Worse

As your pregnancy progresses, the size of the growing uterus and baby will press on your stomach creating even more discomfort. Due to the shrinking real estate eating large meals will make things even worse. Certain foods are triggers for indigestion and heart burn such as chocolate, coffee, caffeine, greasy foods, onions and garlic.

What You Can Do To Cope

Eat smaller and more frequent meals. Don't go for three squares a day, instead go with several. Consider becoming more of a habitual snacker rather than a true meal-eater.

Remain upright after meals even if eating makes you drowsy. Lying down will just help those digestive acids flow more easily up your esophagus. Even a hour or so later you may still have issues, so prop yourself up on pillows to avoid indigestion.

Don't drink that glass of water or juice with your meal, instead drink between meals. All that fluid will make you more prone to digestive woes if you have beverages with food.

Don't get too active right after eating, particularly avoid bending down from the waist. Give yourself at least twenty minutes after a meal before such activities.

Keep your weight in a healthy range. You are eating for two people but that doesn't mean eating twice as much, sorry. Extra weight means extra pressure on that bulging belly and that means heartburn and more.

If you have gained more weight, don't forget to get yourself some clothes that fit. Wearing too tight or restrictive clothing especially around the abdomen will increase these uncomfortable symptoms.

Keep your head raised while going to sleep, or adjust your bed so your feet are lower than your head. Also wait a few hours after your last meal before retiring for the night.

Should these tips fail to keep tummy troubles at bay, then speak to your physician about antacids. Often there are some safe medications including over the counter drugs that can help with your discomfort.

If it becomes more than discomfort and includes symptoms such as black tarry stools, spitting up blood, or heartburn that is persistent despite medication or heartburn that awakens you need to consult with your health care provider.

One recommended home remedy to try is a glass of warm milk with honey. Yogurt can also be a soothing food for stomach ailments during pregnancy and has a nutritional boost to it as well.

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