What is heartburn?
Heartburn is a form of indigestion where stomach acid escapes back into the oesophagus (gullet), producing a burning sensation in the upper abdomen. In pregnancy it is caused by hormones that relax muscles and ligaments throughout the body, in this case the valve at the top of the stomach. The majority of mums-to-be experience heartburn on and off during pregnancy. It's usually most troublesome the last trimester of pregnancy because of the pressure of the growing uterus on the stomach.
Heartburn is often made worse by lying flat, so it can be particularly uncomfortable at night. It's usually brought on by eating, particularly spicy or fatty foods. Thankfully, it's harmless to unborn babies and usually resolves after the birth.
What are the symptoms of Heartburn?
An uncomfortable burning sensation In the upper abdomen, usually triggered by eating, especially spicy and fatty foods.
What are the treatments and remedies of Heartburn?
Self-help is the first course of action. Here are some things to try:
- Try to avoid eating for the last three hours before you go to bed, and if you do need a snack, choose something fairly bland, such as a couple of crackers or dry biscuits.
- Rather than sleeping flat, which lots of expectant mums find worsens heartburn, try propping yourself up with an extra pillow.
- Eat little and often rather than the usual three main meals: five or six smaller meals will be more easily digested. Try and work out which foods might be triggering off your symptoms and avoid them.
- Try drinking a glass of milk to ease symptoms.
- Saliva helps neutralise stomach acid, so you might find chewing gum helps, as it stimulates the production of saliva.
- If you can't get relief from self-help measures, talk to your pharmacist, who might prescribe an antacid – but don't just take over-the-counter preparations without medical advice.
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