Indigestion during pregnancy and how to treat

Indigestion is quite common during pregnancy. There are many reasons that slow down the digestive process in the expecting mothers causing bloating, heartburn and other symptoms of indigestion at different stages of pregnancy. Indigestion during pregnancy can be observed at any time but it becomes quite common and aggravated during the third trimester of pregnancy as the fetus grows into a baby. The common causes of indigestion during pregnancy involves,

  • The hormonal changes: During early pregnancy, hormones like oestrogen and progesterone are secreted in the body in higher amount and these hormones work to relax the smooth muscles of the body. High level of these hormones also relaxes the muscles involved in the digestive system and hence automatically the digestive process in the body of the mother slows down, making it difficult for the digestive system to perform smoothly.
  • Growing pressure of uterus on stomach: This is another basic reason of indigestion in expecting mothers and aggravation of the condition during the third trimester of pregnancy. As the uterus becomes bigger in size, it presses down on the stomach, making it difficult for the stomach to function properly.
  • Relaxation of lower oesophageal sphincter: During pregnancy, the lower oesophageal sphincter muscles present between the oesophagus and stomach are relaxed, causing leakage of the stomach acids into the oesophagus and this can cause extreme acidity and heartburn.

Whatever might be the cause of indigestion during pregnancy, it can be treated by following some simple measures. However, during pregnancy, you cannot avoid indigestion all together, but you can surely reduce its occurrence and severity.There are also some effective home remedies that can be very helpful to treat indigestion during pregnancy. In case, nothing seems to work and the indigestion gets really severe, doctors often suggest different brands of antacids and other medications that are safe to take in for pregnant women. However, during pregnancy, never opt for any anti-acid or digestive medicine without consulting your doctor.

Measures to take for avoiding indigestion during pregnancy

Opt for a balanced diet rich with fruits and vegetables

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This is the first and most important measure that you need to implement in your life during pregnancy in order to reduce the frequency as well as the severity of the symptoms of indigestion. The balanced diet that is ideal in this case should include lots of fresh vegetables along with fruits. The fibers present in the vegetables and fruits aid in digestion and they can be very effective in reducing indigestion during pregnancy. Also stay away from spicy and rich foods that are known for causing indigestion and acidity.  Instead, munch on peanuts and dry fruits when you feel like snacking.

Drink more water

Staying well hydrated throughout the day during pregnancy is important. Dehydration can affect the digestive mechanism of the body negatively and can work as a cause for indigestion and heartburn. So, during pregnancy, make it a point to drink water more often. You can also include different water based drinks like lassi, milk shakes or coconut water to ensure that your body is not dehydrated, which can cause indigestion.

Change your eating habits

Changing your eating habits can be actually effective to reduce the severity of indigestion. Always chew your food very well before pushing it down and take more time for eating. In fact, you can even take short breaks between eating your meal to make it much easier for your body to take the food. The other important change that you need to make in your eating habits is that, instead of taking 3 big meals, take 5-6 short meals. This will ensure that at any point of time your stomach is not over burdened with lots of food to digest. Taking small meals, will simply distribute the work of digestion throughout the day, giving your stomach more time to digest properly.  This can be very effective to reduce any indigestion or acidity. Also do not take your last meal of the day after 10pm as digesting the food at late night might be even more difficult for your body.

Change your water drinking habits

Changing your drinking habits can also be effective for reducing indigestion and the related symptoms. Drinking water throughout the day is essential but you also need to keep some more things in mind to reduce the severity and occurrence of indigestion.  The first change that you need to implement in your water drinking habit is that  instead of drinking water, sip in water slowly; this can work to reduce the indigestion. Also make it a point to not to drink water when you are eating your food. Try to drink water 20 minutes before you take a meal and then again 20 minutes after you have completed your meal. This can be helpful for digestion.

Stay away from alcohol, milk based tea, coffee and cold drinks

During this stage stay away from any alcohol based or artificial sweetener based drinks, which includes the cold drinks as well, to reduce the severity and occurrence of indigestion.  Alcohol dehydrates the body and work as a major reason for indigestion and acidity at times. So, staying away from any alcohol based drinks during pregnancy is a must.  The milk based teas and coffees might also work for creating more acid in your stomach. So, saying no to them during this time is always a wise option. You can always drink fruit juices instead.

Exercise regularly

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Exercising during pregnancy can be the best way to stay healthy, for you and also for your baby. However, it is not the time when you should do heavy exercises, rather stretching, walking and light exercises can be ideal. Exercising not only helps in blood circulation in the body but also helps in digestion and hence by exercising regularly you can always aid the digestion process which will automatically reduce the various symptoms of indigestion. So, even if you do not feel like exercising daily during this period, go out at least for a short work without fail.

Practice some stress removing techniques

Stress can often work as a major cause of indigestion and if you are stressed during pregnancy it is sure to worsen the symptoms of indigestion. So, it is best to practice some stress relieving techniques during this period which can help you to relax and enjoy yourself without being over -burdened and worried. If it is just not possible for you to avoid heavy work, make it a point to take at least 1-2 days break in the week and indulge yourself in relaxing activities that you can avail in salons, spas or even in your home. Sleep for sufficient time daily. Practicing yoga regularly can also be a very effective way to relieve stress.

Tips that can help to control indigestion during pregnancy

  • It is best suggested to wear loose fitting cloth, particularly the ones that do not put pressure around your stomach or waist during pregnancy. As already mentioned, the growing pressure on the stomach due to the growing size of the fetus work as a reason for indigestion during pregnancy, and by wearing clothes that are tight near the stomach or waist you will only add to the pressure making it even more difficult for your stomach to function smoothly.
  • Another suggestion that can be helpful in this case is to make it a point to bend on your knees when even you have to bend down for something instead of bending at the waist. This will again reduce the chance of increasing the pressure on your stomach, letting it work normally.
  • Never go to bed right after you have taken your meal. The sleeping position is not very helpful for digestion and if you go to bed with a full stomach, you are most likely to experience indigestion. After you have taken your meal maintain an upright position of your body at least for the next 3 hours and then only, go to sleep.

Few home remedies for treating indigestion during pregnancy

There are some age old home remedies that are used effectively in Indian homes to reduce the occurrence and the severity of indigestion in pregnant women. Some of these remedies have been enlisted below,

Fennel, fenugreek and carom seeds

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These three seeds are known for having natural digestive property. We often take them directly after having a meal just to quicken up the digestion process. Roast 1 spoon of each of these seeds on a dry pan and then grind them to powder. You can take one teaspoon of this powder with a glass of water every time after you have taken a meal or any time when you are feeling uncomfortable due to indigestion.

Carom seed concoction

This is another common remedy of indigestion. Simply boil 1 teaspoon of carom seeds in fresh water and drink this water with the carom seeds after your meals or whenever you feel any uneasiness due to indigestion.