Heartburn And Pregnancy

Many expectant mothers find that heartburn and pregnancy go hand in hand. Indeed, women who have never experienced heartburn before can suddenly find themselves huffing and puffing, patting their chest and swallowing continually to try to ease the burning acid sensation in their oesophagus!

What is the link between heartburn and pregnancy? What can be done to ease it?

Why Does Heartburn And Pregnancy Go Hand In Hand?

Heartburn feels like a burning sensation in your chest and throat. It can become extremely uncomfortable and spoil your enjoyment of pregnancy.

Each of us has a valve at the bottom of our gullet or oesophagus as it goes into our stomach. This valve stops stomach acid from coming up the oesophagus. If the valve doesn’t work properly, acid can splash up the oesophagus causing heartburn and pregnancy is a major cause of this problem. Why? During pregnancy, many hormones are racing around our body. Some of these cause our muscles to relax in preparation for labour. Sometimes, when these different muscles relax during pregnancy there can be side affects.

Pregnancy hormones can make the valve at the bottom of your oesophagus relax and let stomach acid splash up, causing heartburn.

Many pregnant women find that right from the early stages they experience heartburn and pregnancy, in the later stages, definitely seems to worsen the condition. This is because as well as the valve allowing stomach acid to creep up the oesophagus, your growing baby pushes your stomach up and disturbs the acid even more.

How To Ease Heartburn

Although heartburn and pregnancy seem to come as a package for most women, there are things that you can do to help it.

1. Eat little and often, avoiding large meals.

2. Prop yourself up at night rather than lying flat.

3. Drink a glass of milk.

4. Note which foods aggravate it and avoid them (baked beans and pastry always made my heartburn worse)

5. Try antacid medications such as Gaviscon, which come in either tablet or liquid form.

When I was suffering from heartburn I found that when it was not so bad a glass of milk would help to ease it. But when it got bad it would only respond to Gaviscon. Sometimes I would suck a tablet, which would ease symptoms, but the best solution was to swig from a large bottle of Gaviscon as relief was immediate.

You can buy antacid medication over the counter from your local pharmacy, or get it prescribed. At my midwife appointments I always asked for a prescription for Gaviscon because in England, during pregnancy and until your baby is 1 year old, you get free prescriptions on the NHS, so I didn’t have to pay for my Gaviscon.

I’d like to pass on a tip – When I had Freddy, I’d had bad heartburn during the pregnancy, but it didn’t occur to me that the heartburn might be a problem during the labour, so I didn’t bring my bottle of Gaviscon with me.

During the labour I had the worst heartburn I had ever experienced, but when I asked for Gaviscon the midwives would bring me a tiny thimbal of it that hardly touched it. I really wished I had bought my bottle so that I could have it whenever I needed it and as much as I needed.

So, if you suffer with heartburn, I would advise you to take your antacid medicine to the hospital when you go into labour, just incase.

Heartburn And Pregnancy Myths

I thought I’d just cover a heartburn myth or ‘old wives’ tale’ while I’m discussing heartburn.

I’ve heard many people say that if a woman suffers from bad heartburn during pregnancy that means she is carrying a baby with lots of hair.

While I cannot say that some women haven’t noticed a pattern between heartburn and hairy babies, I feel I must express my doubt at this notion being at all true.

When you look into the cause of heartburn during pregnancy, scientifically there is no reason to believe there is a link between hairy babies and heartburn.

As far as experience goes, with my first baby I had terrible heartburn all the way through and got through loads of bottles of Gaviscon. Freddy had hair, but not lots of it. My second baby, however, was very hairy indeed but I had not suffered nearly as much with the heartburn during my second pregnancy.

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