It's normal for expectant mothers to feel thrilled to welcome a new member to the family, however their gastrointestinal system may make it difficult to feel joyful. Indigestion symptoms commonly occur throughout pregnancy, beginning as early as 4 weeks and possibly lasting through delivery. While annoying, these symptoms rarely prove problematic. Thankfully, a number of strategies exist to help expectant mothers alleviate symptoms.
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The burning and mid-chest pain called heartburn plagues many pregnant women. Heartburn occurs because the hormones of pregnancy cause the muscles of the gastrointestinal system to become more relaxed, reports the March of Dimes. One of the muscles affected is the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, leading to leakage of stomach acids out of the stomach. The March of Dimes notes that heartburn may become worse during the second and third trimesters when the uterus grows. Tips for counteracting heartburn in pregnancy include avoiding greasy foods, caffeine and spices, staying upright after eating, eating frequent, smaller meals and keeping pregnancy weight gain at a reasonable level.
Nausea and Vomiting
Up to three-quarters of pregnant women become suffer from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Often called morning sickness, nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) can strike at any time of day and can range from mild to severe. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) reports that NVP results from “the sudden increase in hormones during pregnancy.” Thankfully, for most pregnant women NVP will subside by 13 weeks or so. The AAFP suggests that expectant mothers eat bland foods, more carbohydrates and avoid fatty foods to help curb NVP. They also note that acupressure wristbands may help alleviate the problem.
Pregnant women often have various kinds of gas including burping, flatulence or feeling horribly bloated. The slowing of the digestive track that occurs during pregnancy causes this build up of gas, says BabyCenter. They note that problems with gas can become particularly bothersome in the third trimester when the uterus takes up a lot of abdominal space. Tips for reducing gas during pregnancy include avoidance of broccoli, cabbage, beans, onions, sodas and fried foods. Expectant mothers might also try eliminating dairy foods in their diets to see if that helps with gas. If they do so, they should also take a daily calcium supplement, BabyCenter says.
Constipation can begin very early in pregnancy and may last throughout gestation. The American Pregnancy Association suggests that pregnant women eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day, engage in moderate exercise for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week and drink a lot of fluids in order to reduce constipation. They also note that the increased iron found in most prenatal vitamins can contribute to constipation. As a result, if women suffer from constipation they should talk to their doctors about switching to a prenatal formula that contains less iron.