Call it heartburn, acid reflux or acidity, that burning sensation takes the fun out pregnancy. For most women, pregnancy is the time when they start taking their diet seriously. Eating well becomes a priority so that the baby gets all the nutrients he/she needs for optimum growth and development. Acid reflux, however, leaves a bad taste in the mouth after every meal or even drinks.
The typical symptoms of acidity are a burning sensation or pain in the chest, feeling heavy or bloated, burping or belching and bringing up food. As soon as you eat or drink, the symptoms start showing up.
So, how does acidity become so common in pregnancy? Blame it on progesterone that causes the valve between the stomach and the esophagus to relax, due to which the stomach acid easily pass into the esophagus and increase the frequency of heartburn. In addition, the expanding uterus crowds the stomach, forcing stomach acid back into the esophagus.
Is there anything you can do about it? Yes, there are ways that can help relieve that fiery sensation or pain after every meal:
Eat small meals
When it comes to the problem of acidity in pregnancy, small meals bring big difference. Instead of having three big meals in a day, break down your meals into five mini-meals with portion control.
This will also help you avoid overeating, which only aggravates the problem of acidity. When you are pregnant, there is less room for your stomach to expand as the growing uterus is already pushing it.
Smaller meals are easier for your body to digest, put less pressure on your abdomen, keep the weight gain within the recommended limits and thus relieve the symptoms of acidity during pregnancy.
Don’t go to bed right after meals
Heading to bed right after a hearty meal is a shortcut to heartburn and acidity. Your body needs time to digest the food and sleeping right after your meals means you are not allowing the digestive system to do its work.
As a result, the food inside your stomach comes back up into your esophagus. The stomach acids come up and create that burning sensation in your chest or throat. Moreover, your body needs to be in an upright position to digest way. Try not to eat for at least three hours before you hit the bed.
Avoid spicy and fatty foods
Spicy and fatty foods are also known as heartburn-triggering foods. The body needs more time to digest food with high-fat content. In fact, your body digests fat slowly. The slow digestion process triggers the production of acid in the stomach and leads to acid reflux.
Fatty foods can also loosen the lower esophageal sphincter, the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus, making it even easier for acid to get into esophagus and cause heartburn. Also, eating anything fatty or fried close to your bedtime can even disrupt your good night’s sleep.
Spicy food may slow down your digestive system, which means food will sit in your stomach for longer and this can aggravate the problem of heartburn. In addition, spicy foods may irritate an already inflamed esophagus, which is the case in pregnancy.
Take a stroll after meals
You may feel tempted to go to bed after a meal but doing so can lead to or worsen acidity or heartburn. Walking can help accelerate the digestive process and wash acid back up into your esophagus. On the other hand, if you sit down or go to bed, the food remains in your stomach for longer, which causes the gut to secrete more acid that can reflux back due to pressure.
Have a glass of milk or yogurt
If meals are becoming a challenge for you because of heartburn and acidity, try liquid foods. You can try these for your mid-meals. In comparison to solids, liquid foods move through the stomach quickly and easily.
While you can try soups and smoothies, milk and yogurt will be a great choice as these two offer plenty of protein. However, keep in mind that drinking large quantities of fluids with meals can aggravate heartburn because drinking can cause you to swallow more air.
A snack for all times, banana helps fight heartburn. This low-acid fruit relieves acid reflux by coating an irritated esophagus lining and thereby helping beat the discomfort. With the high fiber content, banana also strengthens your digestive system and ward off indigestion.
Pectin, the soluble fiber found in banana helps move stomach food through the digestive tract. Remember, the more the food stays in the stomach, the more bloated you would feel.
Sip coconut water
It is nature’s own elixir! It not just strengthens the digestive system but helps in acidity too. As a natural acid neutralizer, coconut water soothes and prevents heartburn during pregnancy. An excellent laxative, it also helps in other digestive issues such as constipation and indigestion.
In the first trimester of the pregnancy, women are advised to have coconut water to relieve morning sickness and fatigue.
Wear loose-fitting clothes
Think about your stomach. It is already crammed. Wearing tight clothing is only going to put more pressure on it and thus, could possibly worsen acid reflux. Yes, the pressure from the tight clothing can push the stomach and force the contents upwards, causing heartburn.
Maternity wear nowadays is quite glamorous, stylish and comfy. How about curating a maternity wardrobe for yourself?
Every pregnancy has its own set of challenges. Know what to eat and what to strictly avoid with our Pregnancy and Postnatal Nutrition Program