There are few people who have not, at some point in time, experienced heartburn. However, for many women, their first experience of acid reflux is during pregnancy. The problem then is how to manage acid reflux symptoms in women experiencing them?
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a condition where the acid from the stomach flows up out of the stomach into the gullet. A one way valve lies between the stomach and the gullet. This should allow food to enter the stomach from the gullet, but should stop anything from the stomach entering the gullet. However, when the one-way valve stops working properly, acid reflux can occur.
What Causes Heartburn?
Many factors can cause acid reflux. However, women are particularly vulnerable to acid reflux during pregnancy. This is because, during pregnancy, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone increase. The purpose of these hormones is to relax the uterine wall muscles so that they can stretch as the baby grows. Their relaxing function isn’t particularly refined however, and as a result, other muscles are relaxed too, including those which support the function of the one-way valve between the stomach and the gullet. When this happens, the valve stops working as well. So, acid can then flow from the stomach into the gullet and this is when acid reflux symptoms in women who are pregnant are felt.
Acid Reflux During Pregnancy- The Symptoms
The acid reflux symptoms in pregnant women can sometimes be mistaken for other symptoms of pregnancy. For example, feelings of nausea or vomiting are a symptom of both pregnancy and acid reflux. However, there are other symptoms which are quite clearly caused by acid reflux. Heartburn is the most common symptom of acid reflux, and this can feel like a burning sensation which rises up the gullet towards the mouth. In some cases it may also cause a acidic taste in the mouth.
There may also be a more general discomfort in the upper abdomen or behind the breastbone. Pregnant women may also find that acid reflux can cause them to feel full or bloated, particularly after eating even a small amount. The regularity and severity of each of these symptoms varies from person to person. However, acid reflux symptoms in women which have been caused by pregnancy universally disappear after the birth.
Managing acid reflux symptoms in women who are pregnant
Although there are over-the-counter medicines which can be used to combat acid reflux symptoms, some of these are not suitable for pregnant women. Because of this, managing these symptoms can pose more of a problem for pregnant women. However, there are several ways in which the symptoms can be alleviated to a certain extent. By eating less at any one time, the pressure put on the digestive system is minimized, which can reduce acid reflux.
Also avoiding coffee, sugar, and chocolate to reduce symptoms, all of which exacerbate acid reflux. By the same token, drinking milk or eating yogurt can help sooth the symptoms of acid reflux in pregnant women. It may also help to avoid eating much food before lying down, as lying down can exacerbate the flow of acid through the valve.