Heartburn: Heartburn & Pregnancy

Heartburn and Pregnancy

Many women experience heartburn for the first time while pregnant. In fact, 40-80% of all pregnant women will have heartburn.

What causes pregnancy heartburn?

There can be two main reasons why being pregnant can cause heartburn. The first has to do with the body's increasing hormone levels. These hormones act as a muscle relaxant that helps prepare your body for childbirth. The downside? An increase in hormones may also relax the LES. That's the valve responsible for keeping stomach acid from moving up into the esophagus where it doesn't belong. If the LES is relaxed, the acid in your stomach can push up (reflux) into your esophagus. This acid may irritate your esophagus causing heartburn.

The second cause of heartburn in pregnant women develops as the pregnancy progresses. Your baby is growing at an incredible rate. As it grows, its increasing size can put pressure on your stomach. Often, this increased pressure can push the acid in your stomach up past the LES and back into your esophagus where it doesn't belong, causing heartburn.

Does heartburn stop after the baby arrives?

The good news is that your heartburn will likely stop after giving birth. However, if you breast feed, your hormones change again, and this may trigger heartburn.

Also, women who experience heartburn while pregnant have an increased risk for developing heartburn or GERD later in life.

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