Throughout pregnancy, the body goes through significant physical and hormonal changes. Indigestion can result from both changes - making you feel uncomfortable, bloated and nauseas and it can also cause heartburn.
Rennie looks at the good ways to beat indigestion, from treatment to self-help tips!
Indigestion and pregnancy
Indigestion is the common term for discomfort or pain felt after eating as a result of excess stomach acid.
Pregnancy can lead to more frequent indigestion for a number of reasons:
- Hormonal triggers: An increase of the hormone progesterone is needed for your baby’s development throughout pregnancy. This leads to muscles in the body relaxing, including the intestines, which slows down digestion and can lead to indigestion.
- Growing baby: Particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, as baby is growing, the uterus pushes against your stomach. This means there’s less room to hold food which makes you feel full after eating just a small meal and this pressure on the intestines can slow down the digestive system.
- Heartburn: Indigestion and heartburn are closely linked. During pregnancy, muscles between the stomach and gullet relax, allowing stomach acid to come back up the food pipe, causing discomfort in both the chest and around the abdomen.
Indigestion triggers to avoid
- Don’t smoke or drink: You should try to knock these habits on the head before pregnancy as it can harm your baby. However, it also increases chances of indigestion which could otherwise be avoided.
- Posture: Bending over from the waist can cause more discomfort during pregnancy. Try to bend from the knees to relieve pressure from your centre that could aggravate the stomach.
- Tight clothing: Being comfortable when pregnant is essential when trying to avoid distress to both yourself and your baby. Tight clothing can put even more pressure around the abdomen worsening indigestion and discomfort.
Eating with indigestion during pregnancy
Eating habits play a large role in the severity of your indigestion when pregnant:
- Overeating: Although you should ensure you’re well-nourished during pregnancy, overeating is likely to cause more issues with indigestion as your abdominal area is already pretty full!
- Eat little and often: You know the old age saying – but when pregnant it’s particularly important. It can help your digestive system function so you don’t overwhelm your body with large meals that can cause indigestion.
- Choose your foods wisely: Cut down on caffeine, fizzy drinks and rich, spicy and fatty foods. These are more likely to cause irritation and bloating and lead to discomfort, like wind in early pregnancy.
- Sitting upright: When you eat, try to maintain a good posture. This will help to take pressure off the stomach and allow your digestion system to function more efficiently.
Here are some ideas for simple snacks to enjoy while you’re pregnant.
Sleeping habits to adopt
- Food curfew: Don’t eat three hours before going to bed to let your body process and digest your food before lying down.
- Sleeping position: Try to tilt your mattress so your head and shoulders are slightly higher, approximately 10cm. This helps to prevent stomach acid coming up while you sleep.
- De-stress: Take time out before going to sleep to calm yourself and the baby. Try meditating or having some quiet time so your body isn’t tense during sleep.
It’s important to know that although indigestion is painful, it doesn’t harm your baby. If anything, the slowing of the digestive system allows more time for nutrients to be passed through to your baby – so try not to panic!
If you have relentless pains it can be worth seeing a doctor, even if just to put your mind at ease.