Heartburn is the word
used to describe a sensation of burning in the lower part of the esophagus.
Although it has nothing to do with the heart, heartburn can sometimes
mimic heart pain. It is caused by the reflux of stomach contents mixed
with stomach acid back into the esophagus causing a chemical burn. Heartburn
can occur with increased frequency during pregnancy due to changes in
hormonal levels that can cause relaxation of the muscles that control
the opening between the esophagus and stomach, the Lower Esophageal Sphincter
(LES). Also, as the fetus grows and exerts pressure on the stomach, this
can cause the stomach contents to reflux back into the esophagus more
Below are some tips
to help you reduce heartburn by making changes in your diet. It is important
to report heartburn that is not alleviated by dietary manipulation and
affects your ability to eat to your physician immediately. Low food and
fluid intake can jeopardize maternal and fetal health. Antacids or other
medications should not be taken over the counter unless discussed specifically
with your physician as some are safer than others.
Coping With Heartburn
- Eat and
- Use smaller,
more frequent meals eating every 2-3 hours.
- Eat bland
foods and avoid
offensive foods which can include garlic, onion, acidic
fruits and vegetables, and/or spicy foods.
fatty or fried foods as these are slow to digest and keep
food in your stomach longer. This increases your chances
- Caffeine-containing foods and beverages can further
relax the LES. They also contribute to dehydration and should
- Do not
lie flat for at least 2 hours after eating.
loose fitting clothing.
stress and situations that may increase stress.