Heartburn During Pregnancy: Causes and Treatment

When to see a doctor

The cause of heartburn (also called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) during pregnancy is more complicated than in the non-pregnant state. The basic cause of heartburn – reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus – is the same. The lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle at the lower end of the esophagus that normally prevents acid from refluxing) is weak in pregnancy. This probably is an effect of the high levels of estrogens and progesterones that are a normal part of pregnancy. This weakness resolves after delivery.

Pregnancy-related hormone changes can cause a condition called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (IHP), or cholestasis. For most women, the first symptom is itching. Some also experience pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting, or yellowing eyes or skin.

Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach leaks up into the gullet (oesophagus). This may cause heartburn and other symptoms. Attention to diet and lifestyle may help to ease symptoms. Antacids are commonly used. A medicine which prevents your stomach from making acid may be prescribed if symptoms remain troublesome.

stomach acid pain in pregnancy

Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. (Some of the symptoms, however, are similar to those of a heart attack or heart disease.) Heartburn is an irritation of the esophagus that is caused by stomach acid and is a common pregnancy complaint, especially in the third trimester when the growing uterus places pressure on the stomach.

It doesn’t hurt when the acid is in your stomach because the cells that make up the stomach lining are meant to hold acid and the enzymes that break down food. But, the lining of the esophagus is more sensitive than the lining of the stomach. So, when what’s in the stomach backs up into the esophagus, it causes irritation that feels like a burning sensation. And, even though it’s in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the spot of the burning feels like it’s near your heart, which gives it the name of “heartburn.” It’s sometimes called acid reflux or indigestion, too. When heartburn strikes, you may feel a burning sensation in your chest or stomach.

Some pregnant people report feeling an intense sensation of stretching skin. As the uterus expands, this sensation can extend to the upper abdomen. If the skin itches and feels tight, and the pain is on the outside of the stomach rather than deep in the abdomen, stretching skin could be the culprit. As the uterus grows, pressure on the digestive tract can make this problem more severe.

Advise women that if symptoms persist or become more severe, medication can be considered. found that the use of acupuncture in pregnancy may reduce reflux symptoms. Offer women experiencing mild symptoms of heartburn advice on lifestyle modifications and avoiding foods that cause symptoms on repeated occasions.

Any pain is worth looking into, keep getting second opinions until you find an answer, particularly if your partner can’t focus on anything else. Stomach bugs are common in pregnancy.

This allows partially digested food and stomach acids to backflow, or reflux, into the esophagus. In addition, progesterone also slows the digestive process. This keeps food in the stomach longer. The pregnancy itself-the upward pressure of the growing uterus-also may play a role. Acid reflux is “very, very common” during pregnancy, says Michelle Collins, CNM, an assistant professor of nurse-midwifery at Vanderbilt University.

Advise women that the causes of reflux vary between individuals and avoiding the food and drinks that cause them reflux may reduce symptoms. Sleeping on the left side, raising the head of the bed, and not lying down after eating may also help. Reassure women that symptoms usually subside after pregnancy, but may recur in a subsequent pregnancy. the use of H2 blockers in pregnancy is not associated with any increase in risk of spontaneous miscarriage, preterm birth or small-for-gestational-age baby ( Gill et al 2009b ) . Older women and those having second or subsequent pregnancies are more likely to experience heartburn ( Dowswell & Neilson 2008 ) .

Subscribe to MedicineNet’s Pregnancy & Newborns Newsletter

These chemicals can cause the lower oesophageal sphincter (ring of muscle) that separates your oesophagus (gullet) from your stomach to relax. This allows stomach acid to leak back up into your gullet more easily (acid reflux). Your GP or midwife may suggest some of the following simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. In many cases, these changes are enough to ease the symptoms of indigestion during pregnancy. If you have indigestion (dyspepsia) while you are pregnant, you may not need medicine to control your symptoms.

stomach acid pain in pregnancy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *