Many women experience acid reflux during pregnancy, perhaps for the first time in their lives. It is estimated that acid reflux occurs in 30-50% of all pregnancies. Let’s find out the causes of and home remedies for acid reflux during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, levels of a hormone called progesterone go up. This happens to prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg. Progesterone also assists in milk production. It also helps in slowing down your digestion.
Among other things, progesterone also helps in the relaxing of muscles. This process affects the proper functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). LES is the valve at the base of your esophagus that should ideally open and close for passage of food only. The relaxing effect of this hormone causes the LES to dysfunction. And this in turn allows stomach acid to enter the sensitive lining of the esophagus.
All of these factors, along with the pressure placed on your stomach due to a growing baby, increase the occurrence of stomach acid finding its way into your esophagus.
This may come as a bit of a challenge to some moms-to-be because of increased hunger and the natural instinct to want to eat more, to feed your growing baby. However, eating smaller meals is a recommendation to anyone suffering from acid reflux, but particularly if you are pregnant. Rather than three large meals throughout the day, eat small yet frequent portions.
The desire to lie down in front of your favorite TV show certainly increases after a meal. But it’s better to stay sitting upright, to allow your digestive system to play catch up. It’s common to experience heart burn more frequently after the last meal of the day. Rather than lying down, prop yourself up on a comfortable pillow. You also want to avoid eating large meals close to bed time. Try to allow at least three hours between dinner and sleeping.
Here the idea is that your head should rest higher than your stomach. This disallows stomach acid to make its way into the esophagus, especially after eating. You can place blocks underneath your bed posts, or try sleeping with an extra pillow under your head. Aim to raise your head at least 4-6 inches for a positive effect. In studies, this remedy has been shown to work. It has resulted in fewer reflux symptoms, faster acid clearing and fewer and shorter reflux episodes.
All of these home remedies are certainly worth trying, rather than taking over-the-counter antacid medication for your acid reflux during pregnancy. When you find relief in your reflux, you’ll be able to focus on the many enjoyable aspects of pregnancy.