Is indigestion during pregnancy phase a normal thing?
Are you pregnant and suffering from the annoying problem of indigestion?
What are pregnancy indigestion symptoms?
Is indigestion making your pregnancy cumbersome?
Then, today’s post is for you.
Indigestion is also called as dyspepsia. It is a very common problem during pregnancy which can make you feel nauseous and bloated. It is believed that about 80% of pregnant women experience it at some point during their pregnancy.
Although it is very common complaint, many are not aware of the symptoms of indigestion. Some even confuse it for something serious.
Let us quickly look at the symptoms of indigestion during pregnancy.
You can also refer to the 13 early symptoms of pregnancy.
Symptoms of indigestion during pregnancy:
High levels of hormones during the pregnancy relaxed the muscles of the body, including that of the digestive system.
Relaxation of the muscles causes indigestion which may present other symptoms like.
- Feeling uncomfortable or heavy
- Heart burn
- Acid reflux (acid comes up into your oesophagus)
- Belching/ burping
Though all the mentioned symptoms may not appear in case of all pregnancies, heart burn and acid reflux commonly occur along with indigestion during pregnancy period.
Observing these symptoms of indigestion during pregnancy may leave many expecting mothers worried about their babies. Is indigestion during pregnancy harmful for babies? Let us find the answer.
Is indigestion during pregnancy harmful for babies?
No. Although Indigestion is uncomfortable and annoying problem for you, it is harmless for babies.
Even though it doesn’t harm your babies, sometimes if remains untreated, indigestion may develop worse symptoms. So it is necessary to treat indigestion whether by medication or by simple home remedies, both of which are mentioned in this article.
Let us know the first step towards treating indigestion, its causes.
Causes of indigestion in pregnancy:
As mentioned earlier, the higher concentration of hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, is the major cause of indigestion during gestation period.
There are other causes also which may affect your digestion. They are as follows.
- Growing womb/ uterus which presses your stomach
- Relaxing of muscles in the oesophagus which can let stomach acid leak back up to oesophagus.
- In addition to these causes, there are also foods which can trigger indigestion during pregnancy.
Foods which trigger indigestion during pregnancy:
When you have indigestion, your selection of food also becomes important. It becomes necessary to avoid few foods which can trigger heartburn and acid reflux which are also symptoms of indigestion.
#1. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemon and grape fruits are acidic. Consuming these acidic foods may worsen acid reflux especially when consumed in empty stomach.
However, due to high fibre content these fruits can also help in smooth bowel movement. Hence, eat citrus fruits only after meals or as your doctor’s advice.
#2. High fat foods
When you are suffering from indigestion, it is always preferred to keep low fat food in your menu. This is because fatty foods slow down the process of emptying stomach and worsen indigestion or constipation. So try to avoid high fat containing foods like ghee, butter, cheese, fried foods etc.
Coffee, tea and other caffeine containing beverages also contribute to indigestion and heart burn. It doesn’t mean that you should stop taking tea or coffee totally.
If you are tea/ coffee lover, you can still have 3 to 4 ounces of tea/ coffee in a day during pregnancy with no issues. But if you frequently consume these beverages, indigestion will be the consequence.
#4. Processed foods
Majority of processed foods don’t contain fibers. Moreover they may also contain preservatives and artificial flavors.
A few of them may also cause flatulence and worsen your situation. So it is better to avoid processed food items like breakfast cereals, processed milk, bread, savory snacks etc.
It’s a bad news for chocolate lovers.
Chocolates contain caffeine, high fat and cocoa- all three triggering acid reflux. So it is a big NO to chocolate consumption if you have indigestion as eating chocolates will worsen the problem.
Alcohol products like beer, wine are believed to cause acid reflux. Although many alcohol products are not acidic, alcohol relaxes the valve below oesophagus and cause reflux.
#7. High fat meat
Meat like pork, beef etc are rich in fat and stay longer in stomach. These high fat meats are better to be avoided till your tummy feels better.
These are few of the foods which tops the list of foods triggering indigestion and its symptoms. Hence, avoid these food items to prevent the situation from getting worse. Also maintain a food log which will help you to trace any food item causing indigestion to you. You can also take a piece of advice from your doctor if you cannot resist any of these food items.
However If you had indigestion before pregnancy, it may also persist while you are pregnant. Hence, it is advised to consult your doctor and start medication if necessary to prevent the situation from getting worsen.
When do I need to call doctor?
Few signs of indigestion may be dangerous may need a doctor’s visit immediately. Know which signs need immediate attention during indigestion during pregnancy.
Check if you have any of following symptoms of indigestion/reflux, if yes; don’t delay calling your doctor.
- Vomiting blood
- Vomiting more than couple of times (more than three times)/ inability to keep food or liquids down due to reflux. It may make you body dehydrated and weak.
- Severe and frequent heart burn that doesn’t allow you to sleep at nights
- Drastic weight loss accompanied by heart burn
- Blood in stools
- Difficulty during swallowing
- Chest pain accompanied by neck, jaws and limbs pain, shortness of breath, irregular pulse.
- Extreme stomach ache
In addition to these symptoms, look out for any signs which make you feel uncomfortable. You know your body better than any other person.
If there are any other signs which simply feel uneasy, trust your judgment and call your doctor.
Treatments for heartburn and indigestion during pregnancy:
Indigestion appears to be a minor health problem which may not require much medical attention. But treating indigestion in the right way improves your quality of days for sure.
Few of the treatments, considered safe during pregnancy, are:
Antacids are medicines which act as acid neutralizer. Taking antacids make your stomach less acidic preventing irritation to mucosa of gastro intestinal tract.
Some antacid medicines are combined with the other type of medicines called alginates. This relieves indigestion caused by acid reflux.
Alginates work by creating a floating barrier which places itself on top of the contents of your stomach. Thus it keeps stomach acid in stomach and prevents its leakage to oesophagus.
In majority of cases, antacids and alginates works fine to treat indigestion during pregnancy. They are also considered safe to consume during pregnancy as far as you take only recommended dosage. Side effects of antacids and alginates are rare, but can include- diarrhea or constipation.
- Acid suppressing medicines
If you find no improvement in curing the symptoms of indigestion, your doctor may prescribe the different medicines that suppress the acid in your stomach. There are two acid-suppressing medicines which are considered safe during pregnancy:
These medicines also rarely show any side effects.
Consult your gynecologist if you are on iron tablets and have been prescribed antacids. This is because antacids prevent proper absorption of iron in the body. While you can take certain meds for heartburn in pregnancy, always ask your doctor before taking any medicines. This is because all medicines are not considered safe during pregnancy or certain medicines would not suit you depending on your medical history.
It is always better to try safe home remedies instead of starting medication immediately. Let us take a look at a few safe remedies to treat indigestion during pregnancy.
Safe remedies that keep indigestion away:
Considering few effective remedies like few changes in food and lifestyle may be enough to ease your symptoms. These remedies are healthy and safe during pregnancy which will make you feel better.
- Eat healthy
During pregnancy, you need not to maintain special diet but it is important to follow a healthy diet. Prefer to eat variety of fruits and vegetables to fulfill your need of balanced nutrients. Include more of fiber rich foods to treat constipation which will also be effective for indigestion.
- Change eating habits
It can be dangerous too if you eat even healthy foods in more than required volume. Eat smaller meals. Indigestion gets worse if you are very full. Due to pregnancy, you get tempted to foods more than normally. But this is not good for you and also your baby.
Also avoid eating just before going to bed. Never lie down immediately after meal. You should ideally have your dinner/ meal before three hours of going to bed.
Hence, eat healthy meals in smaller portions more frequently to meet your hunger needs and to ease digestion process.
- Avoid indigestion triggering foods
You already read about the foods which trigger indigestion. Avoid those foods to avoid indigestion.
In addition to this, keep a track of the other indigestion triggers from your routine and avoid those too. Cut down caffeine containing food/ drinks like tea, coffee, chocolates etc.
- Prop your head up
Prop your head up while sleeping. You can do this by taking an extra pillow or by keeping something underneath your bed to make it sloppy by few inches. (Avoid this position of sleeping if it makes you feel uneasy)
This will help prevent stomach acid moving up into food pipe while you are asleep.
- Avoid smoking
Smoking causes many ill effects to your body whether you are pregnant or not. Smoking when you are pregnant affects digestion process and can be dangerous to your health as well as your unborn baby.
While smoking, inhaled chemicals can cause indigestion as these chemicals relax the muscles at the lower end of oesophagus. This causes leakage of acid from your stomach into your oesophagus.
In addition to the contributing to indigestion, smoking is also hazardous in many other ways. Like,
- Risk of premature baby birth
- Baby born with low birth weight
- Cot death or sudden infant death
Trade the smoke for a smile today and you will be able replace illness in your life with happiness. So quit now!
- Stop alcohol consumption
Drinking alcohol can also cause indigestion. It also puts your baby at risk by developing serious birth defects. Hence, alcohol consumption should be completely avoided by pregnant women especially during first three months as there is a risk of miscarriage.
You can also read about the home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy.
Other self-help tips for indigestion in pregnancy:
If indigestion is not severe and not causing you much trouble, it can also be treated by home remedies. Here are few self tips you can follow to relieve from indigestion symptoms.
- Don’t lie down immediately after a meal, sit up straight or take a walk. Give at least an hour to your digestive system before you lie down.
- Eat small frequent meals, instead of taking larger meals at a time. This may make you feel uneasy due to the heaviness in stomach.
- Eat your dinner at least before two hours before going to bed.
- Reduce intake of foods which cause gas as it may add up to your bloating problem. List of these foods are cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and carbonated drinks.
- Try to avoid oily foods as they take longer to digest and may increase bloating and indigestion.
- Treat yourself for constipation. Drink lots of water and eat foods containing high fibers.
To summarize, your food can help you greatly if you are suffering from indigestion. Your lifestyle is the key to getting this hiccup under control, but then aren’t most of the illnesses?
In addition to the tips, discussed above, also practice relaxation and breathing exercises which are safe during pregnancy. Maintain good posture while sitting or eating.
It is also a good idea to join pre-natal yoga/meditation classes to keep yourself active which can reduce indigestion problem to the great extent.
So now you know, indigestion in pregnancy is not severe and you have many ways of keeping it under control.
I hope this article helps the expecting moms looking for information regarding indigestion during pregnancy. If you follow these tips, you would surely able to get relieved from the symptoms of indigestion.
So all dear expecting mothers, stay active, follow these tips and live these quality days joyfully with your baby treating your pregnancy problems right way. It is a phase in your life, the memories of which will make you rejoice lifelong, so enjoy it. Have a beautiful pregnancy journey.