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Why is Heartburn a Common Pregnancy Problem?

Hormonal changes

The hormone progesterone can cause muscles to relax. There is an increase in the levels of this hormone during pregnancy. One of the muscles that can be affected is the muscle (sphincter) at the entrance to your stomach. This muscle is responsible for opening to allow food to pass down into the stomach and closing to keep the contents in place.

So, if it relaxes, your stomach contents, including stomach acid, can pass up (reflux) into the oesophagus (the gullet or food pipe). The lining of the oesophagus can't withstand the effect of the acid in the same way the stomach lining can, so the pain of heartburn can result.

The growing baby

As your baby grows, it puts pressure on the digestive tract, stomach and intestines. Physical pressure on the stomach can result in pushing acid upwards and into the oesophagus. Again, this can cause heartburn.

Preventing heartburn during pregnancy

As we've already said, most pregnant women suffer heartburn, but here are some tips to help you try to keep its occurrence to a minimum:

  • Eat small meals often to help prevent the stomach from becoming too full
  • Try to eat slowly and sip liquids during meals
  • Sit or stand after a meal rather than lying down. Try not to do anything too active straight away, especially if it involves bending forward
  • If you can, avoid known triggers for heartburn, such as spicy foods, fatty foods, caffeine and chocolate
  • Wear loose clothing to avoid putting any extra pressure around your waist and abdomen.

These tips should help. But you may still suffer from occasional heartburn. Reassuringly however, there are some treatments that are suitable throughout your pregnancy to relieve the symptoms of heartburn.

Treating heartburn during pregnancy

Gaviscon Original is indicated for use during pregnancy*. It isn’t absorbed into your bloodstream, and it doesn't need to be in order to provide effective relief.

Gaviscon works in your stomach in 2 ways:

  • It forms a raft over the stomach contents and helps keep stomach acid in place
  • It neutralises stomach acid.

Furthermore, Gaviscon Original also gets to work instantly and lasts up to twice as long as antacids.

Pregnancy should be a special time for all concerned, although heartburn can be painful and troublesome for you. However, if you follow the tips for prevention and remember there is a treatment to help relieve symptoms, they can help you to keep your discomfort to a minimum.

*Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.

Article published 1 January 2021