Pregnancy can be a huge trigger for many dealing with acid reflux. Women who have never dealt with heartburn before can be sidelined with severe burning and pain. During pregnancy the levels of progesterone increase dramatically and can allow the LES to relax. This relaxation causes a backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus. Add to that a growing baby and the pressure it puts on the stomach and you have... serious heartburn!
The best way to deal with pregnancy induced burn is to address any lifestyle or nutritional choices that might be aggravating the problem. Smaller more frequent meals, avoiding trigger foods and limiting meals before bedtime can reduce heartburn symptoms. It is also important to eat plenty of high fiber foods and drink sufficient amounts of water to prevent another reflux trigger that frequently occurs during pregnancy: constipation.
Many patients find that the lifestyle changes help and can get by without medication or with only the occasional use of an antacid like Tums (with their doctor's approval). For others these things do not work and they are left to decide if higher level acid reducers are needed. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology shows that H2 blockers can be safe during pregnancy (1). Similar studies have not been done with PPI's. Though PPI's are thought to be safe during pregnancy most doctors reserve their use for patients with complicated GERD that does not respond to lifestyle or other medical treatments.
Heartburn can be more than just a minor pain during pregnancy. Talk with your ob/gyn about any problems you are experiencing in order to get proper treatment and relief from your pain. Do not begin taking any medication, including OTC medicines, without first discussing the problem with your doctor. While some medications may be safe during pregnancy only your doctor has the full picture of your health and can determine what it safe for your pregnancy.
Hoping for healthy happy babies and heartburn free mommies!!
Published On: November 02, 2009