It's common to experience digestive problems when you're pregnant. You're more prone to nausea and heartburn due to the physical and chemical changes in your body. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, can develop too, due to the pressure of your growing abdomen against the lower sphincter in your esophagus. You might be able to manage GERD symptoms with lifestyle changes, or you may need treatments from your doctor if your condition is severe. Here are some things that may help you manage the heartburn and reflux associated with GERD.
Elevate Your Head When Sleeping
You can use gravity to keep stomach contents from washing back up your esophagus. Do this by keeping your upper body elevated, even when you sleep. Place the head of your bed on risers or use a foam wedge under the mattress. To be effective, you need to elevate your back and shoulders, not just your head. For that reason, propping your head on a couple of pillows won't work. Keep your upper body at a slanted angle, so your stomach contents stay in your stomach rather than press against your esophagus. In the same way, you'll want to be careful about napping on a flat couch during the day. Also try to avoid bending over as much as possible, as this could cause sudden reflux followed by heartburn.
Change Dietary Habits
You may notice certain foods trigger heartburn more than others. If spicy food or chocolate causes you problems, avoid them as much as possible. It may also help if you eat smaller meals so your stomach is never stuffed, which can lead to reflux. In addition, try to avoid eating late at night or right before bed. Your stomach should be empty before lying down to lessen the risk of heartburn. It may be difficult to control your diet when you have pregnancy food cravings, but avoiding trigger foods and not eating too much at a single meal could do wonders for your GERD symptoms.
Try Supplements And Medications
While there are over-the-counter medications available for heartburn relief, you shouldn't take anything without talking to your doctor first. This even includes supplements you get from the health food store. Everything you take affects your growing child, and since your body is changing, medications affect you differently too. Your doctor will let you know which OTC medications are safe to try; however, you may get the best results from prescription drugs that have been deemed safe to take during pregnancy.
The only good thing about developing GERD during pregnancy is that it will probably go away once you have your baby. However, just because the condition is temporary, that doesn't mean you should ignore uncomfortable heartburn symptoms. GERD can actually cause damage to your esophagus due to the constant irritation from stomach acid. You may not be able to totally eliminate heartburn when you're pregnant, but with dietary changes and medications if they're needed, you can reduce the frequency and severity of your episodes.
For more information, you may want to schedule an appointment at a clinic like Tampa Bay Reflux Center.