Pregnancy itself ups your risk of heartburn
Normally, there are certain factors – like your weight, whether you smoke, and your genes – that can increase your likelihood of heartburn. But when youre pregnant, its the pregnancy itself that makes you more susceptible.
“There are two main factors,” says Renee Wellenstein, DO, who is a double board-certified OB-GYN. One thats hormonal and one thats physical.
Heartburn is caused by acid reflux, when food and digestive fluids, which contain acids, back up in your esophagus and create that uncomfortable burn. That backup can happen when youre pregnant because you have higher-than-usual progesterone levels, which can — one — slow digestion and — two — relax the muscle, called the esophageal sphincter, that separates your esophagus and stomach.
Because the relaxed muscle makes it easier for acid to seep through and the slow digestion can increase the amount of backup in your esophagus, these two factors together make the perfect storm for heartburn.
According to Wellenstein, “the other factor is the growing uterus, which physically pushes up on the stomach as it grows.”
Heartburn consequently tends to worsen while pregnant. Fortunately, once you give birth, all the changes to your body that cause heartburn during pregnancy quickly go away. When you bring your newborn home, at least that will be something you can look forward to leaving behind at the hospital.
Baking Soda During Pregnancy
Due to internal hormonal changes, the majority of pregnant women experience heartburn (1). Baking soda is often used as an antacid (2). Baking soda may not harm a developing baby when used in moderation.
But you need to be careful because its sodium content might affect the body’s ability to retain water. If you want to use baking soda for heartburn while you’re pregnant, think about the following: Did you know that pregnant women occasionally experience strange cravings for foods like baking soda? This is a condition known as pica.
What causes pregnancy heartburn and acid reflux?
There are a couple of reasons for why this happens. One is that as your uterus grows, it squashes your stomach and pushes contents upward so that your stomach’s acid can percolate over them. Two, your body is releasing a number of hormones that ease your joints and muscles, preventing your uterus from contracting too much and making labor easier when the time comes.
Unfortunately, these hormones also cause your stomach’s muscles at the top to relax, which allows stomach acid to leak out more easily. It can be mildly annoying or so bad that it makes you feel like you’re gargling battery acid.
I had the worst heartburn throughout both of my pregnancies. When I first inquired about it, my doctor advised me to take TUMS. I had to sleep upright for the final four weeks of my pregnancy because they did nothing, and it was dreadful. I’m an idiot, of course, because I misheard her say “take TUMS” as “TUMS are the only thing you can take,” so I kept quiet about how miserable it was and lived in misery.
When I told her I had terrible heartburn again the second time, she advised me to take Pepcid AC. I took it and was perfectly fine the entire pregnancy. It was like the heavens opened up.
I therefore made an effort to compile a variety of tips, cures, and secure medications to lessen the burn. Here we go: