As if being pregnant isn’t hard enough, up to 80% of pregnant women report experiencing some degree of heartburn symptoms as a result of gestational acid reflux. Why is this so common? During pregnancy, hormonal changes cause the muscles at the lower end of the esophagus, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), to relax due to an increase in maternal estrogen and progesterone.
This relaxation allows stomach acid and contents to escape through the LES back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and even regurgitation, coughing, and choking. These hormonal changes also decrease gastric motility, or the esophagus’s ability to return reflux to the stomach, which can increase the amount of time acid lingers in the esophagus, as well as increase symptom frequency.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at pregnancy heartburn and, more importantly, pregnancy heartburn relief.Use the links below to navigate ahead, or read through for a more in-depth overview of acid reflux during pregnancy.
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and indigestion characterized by a burning feeling in the chest and throat. This uncomfortable feeling is a result of acid escaping the stomach and traveling back up through the esophagus, eating away at its lining.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology1, approximately 60 million Americans experience heartburn symptoms at least once per month, making it a relatively common occurrence amongst the general population. However, pregnant women tend to experience heartburn in much higher rates; one study2 suggests between 17 and 45% of pregnant women deal with heartburn symptoms during their pregnancy.
Why does pregnancy heartburn happen? Stanford Children’s Health3 says the reasoning isn’t completely clear. However, pregnancy hormones, such as progesterone, may be to blame. Hormones such as progesterone can cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) to relax when it shouldn’t. The LES is a circular muscle that acts as a valve between the stomach and the esophagus; when it relaxes, stomach acid and partially digested foods can slip through into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms. Additionally, some attribute the added weight and pressure of the pregnancy to increased heartburn symptoms.
A burning sensation in the chest, typically after eating
A burning feeling in the throat
Sour, hot, or salty-tasting liquid in the back of the throat
Note:Some women report that their symptoms are triggered or worsen after bending over, lying down, or eating.
How common is heartburn in early pregnancy and late pregnancy?
As we mentioned, heartburn during pregnancy is quite common. However, most women experience heartburn during the second and third trimesters5 of their pregnancy. This is likely due to the increased pressure the growing uterus applies to the intestines and stomach.
Pregnancy Heartburn Relief Tips for Expecting Mothers
Ginger: Alkaline foods, such as ginger, can help curb inflammation and soothe the digestive tract. Adding whole ginger into your diet is one way to prevent and alleviate heartburn symptoms during your pregnancy.
Milk: Having a glass of milk after a meal or while you’re experiencing heartburn can help cool or quell acid reflux symptoms.
Apple cider vinegar: Although apple cider vinegar tastes pretty acidic, its composition is actually pretty neutral, which makes it a great candidate for balancing out stomach acids. The less acid in your stomach, the lower the potential for heartburn symptoms to occur.
Pineapple and papaya: These two fruits are known to speed up the digestive process, which, in turn, can lower the likelihood that you’ll have heartburn after eating.
Exercise: After eating, try to take a 10-15 minute walk to promote digestion and mitigate feelings of heartburn.
Note:Before testing out natural remedies or over-the-counter options to deal with heartburn while pregnant, be sure to consult your doctor.
How MedCline’s Reflux Relief System Can Help
Our patented acid reflux pillow is the only solution on the market that uses the left, inclined sleeping posture recommended by physicians for heartburn relief. Engineered with medical grade materials, protective casing, and three sizing options, our Reflux Relief System is the ideal solution for women experiencing pregnancy heartburn, or those with generic acid reflux symptoms.
A recent clinical trial presented by Cleveland Clinic at The American Congress of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists Conference (ACOG 2016) in Washington DC showed that the MedCline Reflux Relief System reduced gestational reflux symptoms by 70% after only 2 weeks of use.
The study also found that with MedCline, these women, in their second or third trimesters, were able to fall asleep easier, fall asleep faster and reported an overall improvement in sleep quality. MedCline offers a proven, natural treatment for women suffering from nighttime gestational reflux.
The findings of this study are consistent with previous studies showing the significant improvement in nighttime symptoms experienced by the inclined, left-side sleeping position created and maintained only by MedCline.
Pregnancy heartburn affects between 17 and 45% of pregnant women and is most common during the second and third trimesters.
Heartburn symptoms during pregnancy can be characterized by a burning sensation in the chest or throat, coughing, hoarseness, wheezing, and more.
Pregnant women can find heartburn relief by taking preventative actions, such as avoiding triggering foods, wearing loosely-fit clothing, and enlisting the help of our Reflux Relief System.
Want to learn more about how MedCline can help? Speak to one of our Sleep Specialists today!
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MedCline was founded in 2011 by Carl Melcher, M.D, who was a life-long sufferer of GERD. Dr. Melcher wanted to help the millions of GERD patients with a natural treatment alternative utilizing positional therapy. Since development, the Reflux Relief System has been validated in 7 clinical trials. Aiming to help other medical conditions with positional therapy, MedCline has also developed a Shoulder Relief System for those who suffer with chronic shoulder pain at night. Both MedCline Relief Systems are providing much-needed relief for those suffering from nocturnal acid reflux and/or nighttime shoulder pain to get quality, restorative sleep leading to a higher health-related quality of life.