Acid reflux is also called as GERD or gastroesophagal reflux disease. It is painfully and uncomfortably common during pregnancy and most pregnant women feel that they have a flamethrower lodged in their chests. This condition occurs primarily during the first and the last trimester. The massive build up of pregnancy hormones in the body relaxes all the smooth muscles including your stomach muscles that are responsible for digestion.
As a result, the food moves more slowly in the digestive tract. If you overload or eat too much, the undigested food and the stomach acids that aid in digestion move back up into the oesophagus, causing acute heartburn or acid reflux. They symptoms include acidity, burning and irritation in the chest and abdominal region.
Despite the acute discomfort caused, doctors believe that acid reflux is actually good for the baby as it helps in slower absorption of nutrients in the body. Therefore, the baby actually gets the benefit of all the nutrients that the mother consumes through her food. In the last month, the problem can get exacerbated due to the growing weight of the baby, which presses down on the stomach causing food and stomach acids to back up from the stomach.
Ways to Deal With Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
It is practically impossible to have indigestion free nine months but there are practical ways and measures to keep the reflux from wearing you down or making you feel completely miserable. Here are some ways to minimize the discomfort caused by acid reflux.
Eating Small Meals Reduces Acid Reflux
Make sure you eat less at all times. Eating less means lesser digestive load and lesser secretion of stomach acids. This should help to minimize your discomfort. If you are eating small portions, make sure you get enough nutrition by eating 7-8 small mini meals. This technique is much better than eating three large meals and wallowing in misery.
Curb Caffeine and Spicy Foods to Overcome Acid Reflux
There are certain foods that act as triggers, making your acid reflux become worse. These include spicy and tangy foods, chocolates, tea and coffee, which have caffeine and deep fried goodies, which are full of saturated fats.
Oils, spice and fats make the stomach produce a large amount of corrosive acids. This in turn can lead to acute symptoms of acid reflux and make you feel a whole lot worse. Stay away from any food that acts like a trigger for acid reflux.
Drink and Eat Cold Foods as It Alleviates Acid Reflux
Many women swear by cold foods like ice cream, chilled soda and iced candies. These are comfort foods that produce a cooling effect in the stomach and help to minimize your discomfort. Just ensure that you do not eat too much of ice cream as it really has no quality nutrition. Soda too should be had in moderation.
Eat Slowly to Beat Acid Reflux
Even though you may be repulsed at the idea of eating, you need to eat. Eat slowly though as gulping down your food causes air pockets to be formed in the stomach. This can not only lead to gas but also makes the food more difficult to digest as the food has not been chewed upon properly. This only forces the stomach to produce more acids in order to digest the food better.
Do not Drink and Eat
Try to avoid combining liquids with food as this overloads the stomach and makes it easier for the stomach and the acids to be pushed back into the food pipe. Try to have your fluids in between your meals. Sip slowly on your drinks.
Stay Elevated to Minimize Acid Reflux In Pregnancy
Try to sit up or sleep in a semi-reclining position. This makes it harder for the acids to move up, as they have to now work against gravity. If you are indeed sleepy, keep your rest periods short and take a short walk to ensure that the food has been digested before you hit the bed.
This will help to ease your discomfort to a large extent. In addition, it is a bad idea to eat while lying down as this can aggravate the problem of acid reflux. Eat and enjoy your meals on the dining table and ensure that you sit absolutely erect.
Exercise is a Cure all for Acid Reflux
One quick way of ensuring digestion is to take a brief walk as this speeds up digestion so there are fewer chances of the stomach acids irritating your food pipe or chest. In fact, it is a good idea to not just walk after meals but also take regular morning or evening walks to stay healthy and fit throughout your pregnancy.
Keep your Weight in Check
If you gain weight too soon, there will be immense pressure of the baby on the belly and this can make your symptoms worse. Keep the weight gain to moderate levels and ensure that you do not gain more than half a pound every week.
Wear Loose Clothes
You will feel more comfortable and at ease if you wear loose garments during your pregnancy. Tight and restrictive clothing on the other hand can put pressure on your belly and force the food and acids to be pushed back into the food pipe. Put away your peplum dresses and opt for loose and baggy clothes.
Get Relief for Acid Reflux
Smoking is asking for trouble. In any case, it is a bad idea to smoke during pregnancy because it causes several complications. The nicotine from the smoke can attack and aggravate your food pipe and lead to massive heartburn. So keep the cigarette away.
Though this is easier said than done, it is a good idea to stay positive while you are pregnant. Stress can lead to digestive discomfort and prolong your agony. Stay happy and seek the company of cheerful people to help you keep your perspective.
While heartburn and acid reflux can be very nasty, it does not always last forever and with the help of the above steps, you can greatly minimize your discomfort.