National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease During Pregnancy, November 2012. Early in pregnancy, your body produces large amounts of the hormones progesterone and relaxin, which tend to relax smooth muscle tissues throughout your body, including those in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. As a result, food sometimes moves more slowly through your system, resulting in indigestion issues of all kinds, from that bloated, gassy feeling to heartburn.
It is not known whether unexplained, transient relaxations of the sphincter, a common cause of reflux in women who are not pregnancy, it also occurs during pregnancy. It is not known if the contraction (motility) of the esophagus above the sphincter, a common contributor to GERD in women who are not pregnant is impaired in pregnancy, and is responsible for delaying the clearance of acid from the esophagus back into the stomach. What makes pregnancy different is the distortion of the organs in the abdomen and the increased abdominal pressure caused by the growing fetus. These changes clearly promote the reflux of acid.
While peppermint can be soothing to your stomach, it actually dilates the esophageal sphincter, the muscle that holds the esophagus shut, making it easier for stomach acid to back up into your throat. Most often, acid reflux in pregnancy is diagnosed based on symptoms alone. But if you keep getting it after pregnancy, your doc may order additional testing, including an upper endoscopy, a test thatâ€™s used to look at the inside of the upper digestive tract. Zantac belongs to a class of medications called histamine (H2) blockers. By blocking histamine, this drug reduces the amount of acid produced in your stomach.
Another interesting finding from The Health Improvement Network study was that the risk of asthma in offspring when taking acid suppressants during prepregnancy was actually higher than when taking acid suppressants during pregnancy.15 Similarly, in other studies, a positive association with asthma in offspring has been found for medication taken only after pregnancy.13 , 16 Taken together, these findings could indicate that women taking acid suppressants outside of pregnancy, but not during pregnancy, actually do have GERD during pregnancy, which may be affecting fetal development. However, we can only surmise. Another possibility is confounding by behavior; that is, women more inclined to seek medical help for GERD (in any period) may also be more inclined to seek medical help for their children regarding asthma. GERD is often diagnosed simply by finding no improvement in heartburn symptoms in response to lifestyle changes and acid reflux medication. Heartburn or GERD are common discomforts which can start at any stage during pregnancy.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the most commonly prescribed class of medications for treating heartburn and acid reflux disease. A healthy esophagus should also be able to “clear” the acid through regular contractions, called “peristalsis,” and by neutralizing the acid with saliva.
This phenomenon occurs in virtually everyone from time to time. The sphincter muscle that divides the esophagus from the stomach must open periodically to allow food and saliva entry into the stomach, and is not always able to close again quickly. When stomach acids enter the esophagus frequently or chronically, the irritation feels like a burning or pinching pain behind the breastbone or in the middle of the back called heartburn.
You may be tempted to turn to an over-the-counter (OTC) medication, such as Zantac, to reduce acid. But before you do, hereâ€™s what you need to know about its safety during pregnancy. During normal digestion, food travels down the esophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach), through a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), and into the stomach. The LES is part of the doorway between your esophagus and your stomach.
The chest pain with GERD is typically burning and may extend upward. Pain due to GERD usually occurs after meals and is often relieved by antacids. However, the pain can be so similar to that of chest pain that it is often difficult or impossible to distinguish between the two without sophisticated testing.
When you lie down, itâ€™s easier for stomach contents (including acid) to back up into the esophagus, particularly when you go to bed with a full stomach. Heartburn symptoms are one of the most commonly reported complaints among pregnant women.