Heartburn, gas, bloating, and indigestion during pregnancy are commonly experienced by women; some of the less pleasant symptoms of a juncture of life that women claim as the best time of their lives.
Many women find that for the first time in their lives, they experience these digestive problems, that while not serious in nature, could well be inconvenient, uncomfortable and painful, to say nothing of embarrassing.
Indigestion is particularly common in the second half of the pregnancy since this is the time that the baby is rapidly growing and taking up more and more space in the abdominal cavity.
This causes the uterus to push up and against the stomach, causing indigestion, gas, bloating, and acidity.
Another reason for indigestion during pregnancy is the fact that hormonal changes in the body cause the valve at the end of the food pipe (esophagus) to relax.
This valve, which normally prevents the reflux of food eaten and which is in the process of being digested, when relaxed is unable to prevent the stomach acid from rising up into the food pipe which is what causes that burning sensation in the chest, a sour taste in the mouth and perhaps most embarrassingly, acidic belches.
In fact the pregnancy hormones that cause a relaxation of the valve separating the stomach from the esophagus are the same hormones that cause other organs of the digestive tract to relax as well. The placenta that nourishes the baby also produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the muscles of the uterus as well as the digestive tract.
Due to this, women find that whereas they may earlier have been as regular as clockwork, they now suffer from constipation or conversely even diarrhea. The process of digestion itself slows down because of the stomach contractions that help digest food, and this can typically make women feel overly full and bloated.
For all of these reasons a woman can expect to feel the following symptoms of indigestion during pregnancy –
- By the second trimester of pregnancy, the nausea and vomiting is likely to have ceased (though many women may find themselves throwing up the entire 9 months) and may be replaced by other symptoms of indigestion. As the belly grows, symptoms of indigestion may get worse.
- Air swallowed along with food can take the form of burps and belches as it escapes from the stomach.
- Indigestion may also mean that there is flatulence – noisy or smelly or both.
- The appetite may decrease in the sense that a woman may not be able to eat meals of the size that she was used to. Also digestion slows as she may not feel as hungry as frequently.
- A bloated feeling is also a common symptom of the indigestion experienced during pregnancy
- Acid reflux or the burning feeling in the chest can occur as the contents of the stomach rise up the gullet and even up to the mouth.
- Women can expect to have some relief from the indigestion during pregnancy when the baby’s head settles down and into the pelvis in readiness for the birth, which will occur as the due date of delivery approaches and the pressure on the stomach is somewhat reduced.