Pregnancy Complications - Heartburn
Heartburn is a pregnancy complication affecting almost two thirds of pregnant women during their pregnancy. It is caused when the acid juices from your stomach make their way back up into your gullet and leads to a sensation of burning in the chest and back of the throat. It can also cause a bitter tasting fluid in the back of the throat as well as sharp, stabbing pains in the chest.
The reason that heartburn happens is that during pregnancy the valve at the stomach entrance is unable to close properly due to the relaxing effects of pregnancy hormones. This in turn means the stomach acids are able to leak back out into the oesophagus. Heartburn often gets progressively worse as the pregnancy develops, especially during the third trimester when there is increasing pressure on the stomach. Many pregnant women find that problem is exaggerated after mealtimes and in the evenings, particularly when lying down.
Fortunately, after the birth, the problem usually disappears completely.
Always inform your gp, midwife or consultant if you experience severe "heartburn" type pain, especially if the pain is under your ribs, as this can be indicative of pre-eclampsia.
Coping with Heartburn
Heartburn can be very difficult to cope with as it can disturb a mother-to-be's enjoyment of food as well as disrupting sleep, leading to sheer exhaustion. To help cope with the problem, here are a few suggestions:
- Correct your posture. Sit upright when possible and at bedtime try to raise your body up on pillows rather than lying down.
- Avoid eating late in the evening and just before bed.
- Eat little and often rather than having large meals.
- When bending to pick things up, bend at the knees and lower yourself down rather than bending from the waist as this can allow the stomach acids to escape..
- Avoid rich, spicy and fatty foods, or heavy meals which can aggravate the problem. Alcohol and coffee can also cause problems for some women.
- Milk, garlic, sparkling water and some herbal teas can sometimes help alleviate the problem.
- Ask your gp to recommend an antacid suitable for use during pregnancy, such as gaviscon.
More Pregnancy Complications
- Gestational Diabetes
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Placenta previa
- Cholestasis (itching during pregnancy)
- Morning sickness
- Varicose veins
- Stretch marks
- Depression (pre-natal depression)
- Childbed fever (puerperal sepsis)
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