Understanding why pregnancy causes reflux

The miracle of life can have some uncomfortable side effects; bloating, fatigue, soreness, etc. However, many people don't realize that there is another side effect that you may experience. Unfortunately, this hidden side effect is pregnancy heartburnSevere acid reflux can happen to anyone when stomach acid passes back into the esophagus from the stomach. However, pregnancy creates the perfect storm in the body which increase your chances of heartburn.

Pregnancy lowers your gastrointestinal motility.

“During pregnancy, the smooth muscle of the body relaxes because of hormones and these can worsen acid reflux by reducing the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter causing more GERD to occur,” says Dr. Faisal Bhinder, a leading gastroenterologist at Capital Digestive Care.  “In addition with reduced gastrointestinal motility the acidic contents of the stomach don’t move out of the stomach quickly enough causing a greater chance of the contents to reflux into the esophagus.”

Pregnancy can increase reflux severity. 

So while you are bringing a beautiful child into the world, you may also feel like an angry, fire-breathing dragon. The size of your bundle of joy may also impact the severity of acid reflux. “When the fetus occupies more space in the abdomen that can increase pressure on stomach contents to reflux upwards into the esophagus,” says Dr. Bhinder.

Be prepared during the third trimester, as this is the time that the fetus places the most pressure on the mother’s stomach and intestines. To stave off indigestion during pregnancy as long as possible give these tips a try:

1.     Sit upright for an hour after each meal

2.     Graze during the day rather than eating large meals

3.     Avoid foods that may inflame your stomach such as spicy meals

If you're dealing with reflux, don't worry! You're not alone. Although pregnancy reflux can be incredibly uncomfortable, it definitely isn't something that you have to simply suffer through. There are various treatments and prevention tactics that can alleviate or eliminate side effects. If you're dealing with reflux during your pregnancy, contact your doctor to figure out how to effectively manage your reflux.

By Meagan Bates

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