Indigestion is a very uncomfortable condition that occurs in most pregnancies. Indigestion can range from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful. Regardless of the discomfort level, it can usually be controlled using natural measures and, in the worst cases, through prescription medication. Most indigestion goes away shortly after the delivery of your baby.
Indigestion is a common problem among 80 percent of pregnant women. It is caused when the esophageal sphincter, a band between the lower esophagus and the stomach, relaxes and allows digested food and acid back into the esophagus. A common hormone in pregnancy, relaxin, is part of the culprit. Relaxin eases your joints and bones to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal during labor, but it also relaxes your muscles and sphincters.
Although indigestion can occur anytime during pregnancy, most women report the worst cases of indigestion in the second and third trimester when the baby starts putting more pressure on the abdominal organs.
What it Feels Like
Indigestion often feels like an intense burning in the center of your chest behind your breastbone. This is caused from all of the stomach acids that are necessary to break down your food. You may also feel very full or bloated even if you didn't eat a large meal. And you may feel extremely gassy. Belching may help some but will not totally relieve the symptoms.
You may not necessarily be able to prevent indigestion from happening, but you can try to minimize its frequency or intensity. To do this, try to avoid eating greasy, fatty or spicy foods. Avoid eating large meals in a single setting, eating very quickly or lying down immediately after eating.
To combat indigestion naturally, eat five or six small meals per day. Never wear clothes that restrict the stomach area or make eating uncomfortable. Always raise your head if you must lie down immediately after eating. Use a support pillow or try to lie with your body lower than your head. Follow your health care provider's guidelines on healthy weight gain. Gaining an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy could make the indigestion worse. Consume papaya paste or raw papaya enzymes before and after a meal to help with acid absorption.
Many pregnant women believe the myth that having indigestion during pregnancy means the baby will have a lot of hair. It may be coincidental with some women, but it certainly isn't fact. Most babies are head down in the third trimester when indigestion is the worse and fetal hair has no effect either way.
Indigestion should be reported to your doctor immediately if you are spitting up blood, have black or bloody stools, are losing weight rapidly, having trouble swallowing or breathing, or experience excessive vomiting.
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