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How do I Avoid Indigestion in Early Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Adrien-Luc Sanders
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Indigestion in early pregnancy can be uncomfortable, but there are many ways to avoid or minimize the discomfort. Hormones, gas, pressure from an expanding uterus, poor eating habits, anxiety, depression, and muscle softening may all cause indigestion during the first trimester. Many of these causes are linked, and treating one can mitigate others. Changes in diet and sleeping habits can often help avoid indigestion in early pregnancy, though over-the-counter and prescription medications can also help more severe cases.

The majority of problems with indigestion come from increases in progesterone triggered by pregnancy. The hormone causes muscles to soften and relax, especially in the digestive area. This slows down digestion, which can lead to gas, bloating, and discomfort. Eating too much or too quickly can contribute to this as the softened digestive muscles struggle to break down the food. The hormone also causes the muscles of the esophageal tract to relax, allowing acid to escape the stomach. Conditions like anxiety or depression, which can trigger physical responses such as increased stomach acid, can exacerbate the problem.

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The simplest way to minimize indigestion in early pregnancy is to watch what you eat. Avoid foods and drinks that already caused gas or bloating, even if it means skipping Friday taco nights with refried beans. Eat smaller portions to give the food time to digest, and eat slowly when you do. You may need to change your diet to include multiple smaller meals rather than three normal meals per day. If necessary, take over-the-counter antacids with food to prevent any acid reflux. How you eat matters as well — sitting upright while eating and remaining upright after will let gravity do some of the work of keeping stomach acid in the stomach where it belongs.

Exercise and adjustments in reclining or sleeping habits can also relieve indigestion. Mild exercise before and after meals can aid digestion. Stretches, yoga, and other relaxation techniques can encourage proper digestion, reduce additional acid reflux caused by stress, and ease some of the pressure caused by an expanding uterus and growing fetus. When sleeping, elevating your head and upper body with pillows, or other methods, can help prevent stomach acid from rising and avoid indigestion in early pregnancy.

Only take prescription medication when advised by a doctor, such as anxiety or depression medications or prescription antacids. When in doubt about over-the-counter antacids, consult your primary physician. More severe, persistent cases of heartburn or indigestion in early pregnancy may be caused by other factors. If symptoms seem unnaturally intense or last for too long, seek medical attention.

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SarahGen
Post 3

The trick to overcoming indigestion in pregnancy is to eat small meals and to eat frequently. Eating large meals causes a lot of indigestion. And many pregnant women also experience blood sugar changes. It can spike or fall too much. So eating regularly is a good idea even for pregnant women without indigestion.

I tend to have more stomach issues when I stay hungry for a long time and then gorge on food. So for me, I just have to remember to have a small meal or snack every three hours.

bluedolphin
Post 2

@ddljohn-- I had the same during both of my pregnancies. I had to mostly eat bland foods and avoid anything acidic. I couldn't have tomatoes, onions, garlic or anything with spices. I mostly had boiled vegetables, mashed potatoes with baked or grilled meat on the side. Probiotic yogurt also helped. And crackers worked for both acidity and morning sickness. And you should caffeine as well, since it's not recommended during pregnancy and will cause an upset stomach.

When I ate this way, my problems reduced greatly. I think what also happens is that the pressure from the fetus causes some of the stomach acid to move upward. And this will cause heartburn, especially when lying down. Put extra pillows under your head when you go to bed so that the stomach acid doesn't move up. Antacids help, but don't overdo them.

ddljohn
Post 1

I'm four months pregnant and experiencing a lot of indigestion. I can't eat my favorite foods. And it's difficult to sleep with the acid reflux. I take an over the counter antacid when it gets very bad. But it doesn't help that much.

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