Heartburn during pregnancy - what to do about it

Heartburn during pregnancy - what to do about it

The unpleasent feeling that you have food stuck in your throat, acid reflux and a burning sensation in your throat. Does this sound familiar to you? We will tell you more about what causes it. And what to do about it.

What is heartburn?

Gastric acid is a liquid with high acidity which is produced by the body. Among other things, it takes a role in digesting food. If you suffer from heartburn, it is because gastric acid flows back up from the stomach. This means that some of the contents of your stomach end up in your oesophagus. And sometimes even in your throat or mouth. So that is where that unpleasant burning sensation comes from! On top of all that, heartburn can occur throughout the entire day. For example, after having a meal, but also when lying down in bed or on the sofa. This is because lying down makes it easier for the gastric juices to flow into your oesophagus.

How to recognise it?

Though it is often difficult to describe what you are feeling, heartburn is actually quite easy to recognise. Everyone experiences it at some time or another. You probably suffer from acid reflux, bloating and a burning sensation in your throat or oesophagus. You may also experience the feeling a lump in the throat combined with a burning sensation in the stomach and (acid) burps. You might also have a painful feeling in your chest. In some cases, it is even possible that you will vomit.

Causes during pregnancy

For the little one in your belly to grow, a lot has to happen. Not only your body is changing, but also the hormones in your body. The familiar pregnancy hormones are taking a rollarcoaster ride through your body. You will notice this especially early on in your pregnancy. The hormone progesterone that is produced when you are pregnant not only ensures that your baby grows well, but it also affects your muscles. Progesterone weakens the sphincter between the stomach and the oesophagus. This makes it easier for gastric acid to flow into the oesophagus and throat. Later on in pregnancy, your stomach and the rest of your organs will have a more and more difficult time. This is because they are making room for the baby and your growing womb. The increasing pressure on the stomach forces the acid contents to flow out and into the oesophagus.

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Tips against heartburn when you are pregnant

Heartburn is a real pain, but fortunately, there are a number of tips to help relieve it. Bear in mind that the same tips will not work for everyone. Your best friend may have discovered a miracle cure, but it won't do anything for you. Take your time to find out what works for you and your body.
  • Eat small portions spread over several meals a day. This prevents your stomach from getting too full.
  • Sit up straight while eating and take your time. Try to take small bites, chew well and sit for a while after eating. Sit back and relax! This will give your body enough time to digest the food.
  • Of course, you want to show your pregnant belly to the world, but be careful with clothes that are too tight. Wear comfortable clothes that do not pinch your belly, so that there is no extra pressure on the stomach. A great excuse to go shopping!
  • Put an extra pillow under your pillow: your head will lie higher while you sleep and your stomach will tilt downwards, which will make the heartburn less likely to rise.
  • It is of course great if you can go through life stress-free as a mommy-to-be. Even though stress cannot always be prevented, try to relax as much as possible! Stress can cause heartburn. Stress is not good for the baby either.
  • Get moving! It is very understandable that you do not always feel like doing this (it is also lovely to lie on the couch). A walk around the block can do wonders, or go for a swim. But above all, do what you feel comfortable with. Exercise helps with digestion, bowel movements and reduces stress.
  • Try to avoid spicy food (for some women, strongly spiced meals can also cause symptoms). Also, be careful with food containing a lot of fat. No matter how delicious a fatty snack is (hello cravings), unfortunately, fatty food is heavy on the stomach and stays in the stomach longer. This in turn increases the risk of heartburn. The things you have to avoid as a pregnant woman...
  • As far as drinks are concerned, it is best to be careful with carbonated drinks such as cola or sparkling water. Acidic drinks can also cause extra heartburn, but do help some women get rid of their nausea.
  • Then there's caffeine. Oh, dear, and you're probably already in such need of energy. To counteract symptoms, it is recommended to drink as little coffee as possible. The same applies to tea and other drinks containing caffeine.

Food and drinks to relieve symptoms

You've probably heard it before: healthy food is important during pregnancy. The following products may help to ease the discomfort of heartburn. Find out what works for you and what doesn't in order to enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible. Every little helps and is a nice bonus, right?
  • Ginger: cut up some pieces of ginger and make a tea of it. It is that simple. Also great if you are nauseous.
  • Banana: easily digestible and also helps against heartburn. Do I hear banana pancakes?
  • Fibers: think of wholemeal bread, oatmeal, and brown rice, but also of vegetables and fruit. Make tasty fruit salads for yourself. Or look at your partner...
  • Dairy: a glass of milk can work wonders. Or vanilla custard. But opinions differ on this too.

Still suffering from heartburn?

There may be several reasons why you continue to suffer from complaints and long-term heartburn. Do not worry. Contact your GP and midwife. Discuss whether there are other remedies or medicines you can take. Above all, know that you are not alone. And keep your goal in mind: to hold your baby in your arms. As soon as you finally hold that little one, most of the symptoms will disappear like snow in the sun. Believe us! It is said that pregnant women who suffer from heartburn are more likely to give birth to babies with thick heads of hair. Are you also so curious whether your little one looks like you or your partner? With the Babywatcher you can look at your baby in peace and quiet! And who knows, you might already see where your baby gets that cute little nose or those chubby cheeks.

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