Indigestion is a common issue that accompanies pregnancy. Thanks to this little side effect of pregnancy, most moms-to-be suffer at least a handful of episodes of acid reflux and heartburn/GERD. Contrary to its name, the burning sensation from heartburn has little to do with the heart. However, much to all would-be moms’ relief, it has a safe cure that will relieve them of the discomforting feeling without harming the baby.
The solution to this problem can be as simple as dietary and lifestyle changes. While there are safe treatments available, there are preventive options that won’t cause heartburn/GERD in the first place. Read on to know more about what causes heartburn/GERD during pregnancy and what dietary choices to make to prevent heartburn/GERD.
Why is heartburn/GERD such a common occurrence in pregnancy?
Heartburn/GERD is caused when stomach acids start rising into the esophagus. Pregnancy changes hormonal levels and helps relax muscles, which results in relaxation or leaking of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). LES is what keeps the stomach acids in place, which, in addition to the growing uterus is an invitation for indigestion symptoms.
Here are the dietary and lifestyle measures that can help prevent heartburn/GERD during pregnancy.
- Eat often, eat less
A full stomach is an invitation to heartburn/GERD. Studies suggest, eating smaller meals evenly distributed throughout the day keeps you from indigestion. The key to preventing heartburn is to keep from filling your stomach to the hilt with food. While pregnant, the stomach has less space than usual to expand, eating until full only increases the pressure on other organs.
- Trigger foods – Identify and Eliminate
Commonly, heartburn/ GERD is triggered by a certain type of food, like acidic foods that include citrus fruits, or fried and spicy foods. The list also includes coffee and carbonated drinks and chocolate. Ideally, there is no hard and fast list to stick to; therefore, it is essential to identify what works for every individual, and what does not. The common trigger food groups also include alcohol, which is one more reason for you to eliminate alcohol from your diet.
- Fluid fever
Liquids or liquid-like foods pass through the digestive system quicker than solid foods, which reduces the chance of indigestion. This includes milkshakes, protein shakes, smoothies, yogurts, and soups. However, don’t chug them down all at once. Learn to incorporate food, solid or liquid, into your system with patience. There is no reason to avoid solid foods in entirety. Till you chew well and eat slowly, solid foods should need not be eliminated completely.
- Plan your meals
Nighttime episodes of heartburn/GERD are common and bingeing eating before bed increases its chances. Avoid eating for at least 3 hours before bed and if possible include liquids in your dinner. Additionally, don’t lie down immediately after eating, move around, sit, or stand upright to prevent heartburn/GERD.