Acidity during Pregnancy
Acidity during pregnancy is a common problem.Pregnancy hormones can make the valve at the entrance to the stomach relax so that it doesn’t close as it should. This lets acidic stomach contents move up into the esophagus, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), or acid reflux. It can get worse later in pregnancy when the growing uterus presses up on the stomach.
Acidity or Heartburn (a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) occurs in one-quarter to one-half of all pregnant women. It usually begins in the first or second trimester of pregnancy and continues throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.
What is Acidity?
Normally when we eat food it passes from our mouth to stomach through a food pipe called the oesophagus. There is a valve where the food pipe ends and the stomach opens, and it is called the Lower oesophagal sphincter (LES). The LES is a muscular band of tissue (like a rubber band) that opens to allow food to enter the stomach and closes as soon as food enters the stomach. As we already know our stomach produces many juices to digest the food and gastric acid is one of those juices.
When the LES sphincter relaxes without complete closure even after food has entered the stomach, the gastric juices tend to flow back towards the food pipe. These gastric juices (gastric acid) irritate the sensitive lining of the food pipe and as a result, acidity sets in.
Common heartburn symptoms reported by pregnant women include:
• Chest pain, especially after bending over, lying down, or eating
• A burning feeling in the chest that occurs after eating and lasts a few minutes to several hours
• Burning in the throat
• Regurgitation of hot, sour, or salty-tasting fluid at the back of the throat
• Long-term coughing
• Roughness of voice
• Not able to breathe/asthma like symptoms
Causes of acidity during pregnancy include:
• Hormone levels changing:
Your hormone levels change during pregnancy, affecting how you tolerate and digest foods. The hormones often slow down your digestive system. Food moves slower, causing bloating and heartburn.
• Esophageal sphincter relaxing:
Progesterone, known as the pregnancy hormone, can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. When it relaxes, stomach acid can move up into the esophagus.
• Uterus enlarging:
As your baby grows, your uterus gets bigger. It can crowd your stomach and push stomach acids upward, into your esophagus. That’s why heartburn is more common during the third trimester, the last few months of pregnancy. The baby and uterus are biggest then, crowding your other organs.
Heartburn or acidity occurs in almost all pregnant women. Diagnosis is usually made on the basis of the symptoms.
• Over-the-counter antacids such as calcium carbonate or magnesium hydroxide. These are generally safe to use during pregnancy. You may find that liquid heartburn relievers are more effective in treating heartburn, because they coat the esophagus.
• H2 blockers. These medications block chemical signals that produce stomach acid. They include cimetidine (Tagamet)
and famotidine (Pepcid, Zantac 360)
• Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Like H2 blockers, these drugs help cut down on stomach acid. PPIs, which include lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec).
☆ Ranitidine. In 2020, the FDA stopped sales of an H2 blocker called ranitidine (the ingredient in older Zantac products) because it was contaminated with a cancer-causing agent. If you take OTC ranitidine, stop your use.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
Heartburn and gas formation are key symptoms in acidity. In Ayurveda, acidity is commonly known as ‘Urdhavg Amalpitta’. It is caused because of the movement of gastric juices, which is acidic in nature, from stomach towards food pipe (esophagus). When aggravated pitta dosha is associated with aggravated kapha, the acid starts climbing the food pipe (esophagus).
Home Remedies –
Pregnancy may be a beautiful experience, but that does not mean it is not accompanied by a few inconveniences. Prime among them? Acidity! Every meal becomes a bit of a rollercoaster ride with the taste staying with you and annoying you for hours on end after every meal.
You probably are wondering what can help you cope with acid reflux while you’re pregnant.
Well, there are plenty of natural ways to get rid of acidity during pregnancy which includes –
• Say no to fatty, spicy, and deep-fried food.
Unfortunately, everything with fat and spice, and deep-fried preparations are a big no-no when it comes to your pregnancy diet. Your cravings may be demanding you grab a handful of such delicious treats, but you will pay for it later! This ‘cure’ for acidity during pregnancy is not really a cure as much as it is a piece of advice – abstain from these sinfully delicious foods as they trigger a reaction in your stomach that increases acid production.
• Give up caffeinated and carbonated drinks, and chocolate.
These elements encourage the production of acid in your belly and cause acidity. You and your baby will likely be a lot happier once you give up these things. It have been proven to be bad for pregnant women, so it would do you good to stay clear of them!
• Make use of gravity
Your body is built to keep things flowing downwards, and you can use gravity to your advantage. Prop yourself up against pillows when sleeping so your head is raised above your stomach and feet. This will force the acid downwards and away from your throat, and into your intestines. This is one of the many timeless home remedies for acid reflux during pregnancy.
• Wear comfortable clothes.
Tight-fitting clothes will put even more pressure on your already-crowded abdomen. Instead, wear clothes that are loose-fitting and allow for free movement and undisturbed digestion.
• Eat less.
Another cure for acidity during pregnancy is to eat smaller meals, more frequently. All you need to do is eat often –So instead of three large meals, have plenty of small meals composed of easy-to-digest ingredients.
• Eat dinner early.
A key element you should keep in mind involves eating dinner early, so your stomach is not too full when you lie down for the night. This will prevent the acid from moving back up and prevent the risk of heartburn or acid reflux.
• Try chewing gums
Chewing gum also may be helpful. Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which contains bicarbonate. The saliva and bicarbonate are swallowed, and the bicarbonate neutralizes the acid that has refluxed into the esophagus.
• Fluids are your friends.
Having a baby using your bladder as a trampoline may not encourage you to drink a lot of water but trust us, water will drown out the pesky reflux that’s lit a fire in your belly. It will effectively stop it from making its way upwards and ensure that your insides are soothed. Drink water but not all at once. Ensure that you sip on fluids throughout the day.
• Yoghurt makes you feel better
Mother Nature has her own little tricks to help another mother out, and yoghurt is prime among them. This does not mean you finish off an entire tub of the stuff. Have a spoonful of yoghurt before or after every meal or even when your reflux is flaring up. Things will cool down.
• Pomegranate juice gives relief
Pomegranate juice andpomegranate powder also help balance the acid in the stomach. It is actually both astringent and bitter, which help balance Pitta.
• Coconut water gives soothing results
Choose unsweetened coconut water or try this coconut water smoothie.
Coconut water is high in electrolytes and alkaline minerals like potassium. Because of this, it promotes pH balance and acts as a great natural acid neutralizer.
• Other diet recommendations
Other recommended substances are: barley, wheat, rice (at least one year old), cucumber, bitter gourd, green banana, pumpkin, green grape fruit, pomegranate, and cow’s milk.
For more informative articles on Pregnancy and other health related issues, please visit our website www.santripty.com and also feel free to consult.