During the second half of pregnancy, many women experience a burning sensation in the back of the throat which often extends down into the chest. It may be accompanied by an acid taste in the mouth and occasionally with regurgitation of food. This is referred to as Heartburn, Indigestion or Reflux.
Why does it happen?
The placenta produces a hormone called Progesterone, whose main purpose is to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus, allowing the baby to grow and the uterus to expand. It is the relaxation of smooth muscle in the sphincter (which separates the oesophagus and the stomach), which allows the acids and stomach contents to seep back up into the oesophagus, causing the burning sensation. Progesterone also slows the muscles in the stomach, delaying emptying, so food sits in your stomach longer. Now add a growing baby and uterus to the story, and it gets fairly crowded in that area.
What can you do
A change in eating habits will certainly help:
- Eating smaller meals, more frequently
- Drink fluids between meals rather than with meals – Carbonated drinks may be more palatable.
- Citrus juice may cause symptoms to worsen
- Avoid spicy, fatty and rich foods
- Eating plain yoghurt, or slowly chewing raw almonds may give relief
- Avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol
- Maintain good posture when eating
- Avoid eating within 2 hours of going to bed
- Avoid eating within 2 hours of exercising
Avoid lifting or bending over after eating (better to bend your knees, keeping your back straight).
You may find that elevating the top of your bed or sleeping more upright on a couple of pillows, gives you relief at night.
Avoid wearing tight clothing.
If lifestyle changes have not improved symptoms, it is reasonable and safe to use antacids as directed on the packaging. Antacids are available over the counter in pharmacies and in supermarkets. They come in tablet and liquid forms.
For more information Heartburn and Indigestion Pregnancy, or if symptoms persist, please discuss with Dr Stephen Morris at your next visit.
Also for Additional information and advice on medications in pregnancy and lactation please call or visit Mothersafe: www.mothersafe.org.au